Required Reading for the President Elect
Dear President Elect:
Congratulations on your success in the election. As you have seen and can bear witness, the tools of Democracy that built the United States of America into the already great country it is... these tools DO still work as they were designed to work. We hope you understand that any further invective regarding Democracy being "rigged" will absolutely not be tolerated; your words were insulting to the service men and women who have shown, through their actions, that they believe in U.S. Democracy. We hope your actions will demonstrate respect and honor for their service.
The architects of the documents known as the Constitution thought this "Developing the Future of a Continent" thing through pretty darn well. The Electoral College is a facet that they specifically engineered within these documents to distribute weight of voting power more evenly among rural and urbanized states. That the American people, as a whole, demonstrated the power of the Electoral College this election cycle is indeed momentous.
In fact, this is why I write today. Because your understanding of ecosystems will be key to your success -- or failure -- as a President.
Ecosystems are entities that provide life, nourishment, and sustenance to multiple generations of inhabitants. Indeed, there is no human power and there are no human efforts that can match the efficiency inherent in a natural ecosystem. Many Americans consider sustenance-producing ecosystems to be a gift from God. Others simply respect the fact that ecosystems have been producing sustenance for humans for thousands of years, allowing certain individuals to thrive under certain conditions. What those conditions are, exactly, only the architect in nature understands. The constant is the gentle reminder that operations within and among those individuals in an ecosystem are very delicate and easily damaged by recklessness. Do you understand that recklessness creates damage, Mr. President Elect?
Now let's talk about your Proposed Contract. There are some great ideas in here, and there are some ideas that need work. It isn't that bad for a first draft, and you definitely deserve a +5 for creativity. Before getting too carried away, however, it seems there are a few history lessons you may have forgotten. Lessons, specifically, regarding the legacy of our Public Lands.
Reading Requirement: Brush up on History.
Your new job comes with a temporary stay at the White House, and you will have the opportunity to listen to and implement some ideas from an often-ignored and frequently unheard slice of America. As such, your first assignment from them is to read this collection of essays. Numerous authors and numerous citations to important historical events transcribed to National Archives are documented within in this book, From Conquest to Conservation: Our Public Lands Legacy
It is a non-political, facts-heavy book with some additional narratives from individuals who've lived in and cared for land and people and creatures on the fringes of modern society. Our Public Lands are areas that your Presidential predecessors and the American people as a whole have chosen to preserve for very specific reasons: Economic reasons that have nothing to do with money. Ecological reasons that have everything to do with clean water, healthy fish, and abundant wildlife. Logical reasons that that nobody with a real estate license will ever be privileged enough to know. Spiritual reasons, for nature as a healing power. Legacy reasons only future generations will be able comprehend and understand.
The vast majority of people who voted for you are people who hail from the antithesis of NYC. They are a very different kind of person from what you are used to wheeling and dealing for the latest gold-plated tower in the latest trendy big city. They are also very different from the kind of penthouse-renting person you typically cater to. Surely you will need to familiarize yourself with the kind of person who just doesn't understand extravagance. This book will allow you to do so... it presents Rural Americans' opinions from both sides of the aisle, and it outlines in very clear and certain terms things that you must understand if you are to be a successful President.
People who value the heritage of the land do not value exploitation of land. They care about economics and "jobs", but not the the point it infringes on their way of life. They care about building new and better structures and infrastructure, but not the the point it will infringe on the way of life for their children or grandchildren. This seems almost counter-intuitive but it simply means that it does NOT involve breaking out the bulldozers and cranes without FIRST taking some serious environmental assessments.
First and foremost you must understand: Residents and respecters of rural America do not want swaths of pop-up housing "For Rent". They build it, they own it. The development that will take place in these fringes of America must be done without greedy Realtor companies involved at all. This will surely upset a great deal of your fellow politicians whose going-concern is tied up in bribes they've taken from the Realtors... but do not be swayed by their delusions. The truth is that Rural America despises lobbyists. They despise anybody out to exploit the equity of their land.
"Exploitation" has taken and can take many forms: over-plundering natural resources, like coal (leaving residents susceptible to environmental disasters like landslides), toxic waste, illegal dumping, destroying the water table, and more.
Development does not have to be destructive. There are ways to plan for development and to implement those plans in a way that optimizes the right balance of economical and ecological objectives.
As a final friendly warning, please do not be hoodwinked into thinking that the voice of Rural America comes from people like the Ammon Bundy Occupants. That mutation of delusional individuals are terrorists who do not represent the heart or soul of Rural America; quite the opposite, in fact. When the land dictates, through climate and vegetation, that it is not conducive to grazing cows, respecters of the ecosystem do not graze cows. Nor they do not throw tantrums and wield guns on property consecrated for preservation of ecosystems when land doesn't happen to be conducive to grazing cows.
Land stewardship is frequently about simply leaving places alone, refusing to put a price tag on the cost of disrupting that land for human use when other species can make better use of the land than humans can. Because our sustenance as humans will always be tied up with the sustenance of other species.
There is a documentary called A River Between Us that everybody, including you, should watch in order to understand some of the things that are at stake here. The people who were on this continent before the ships with white ancestors sailed... they have many more generations of observation and wisdom to share regarding these ecosystems that we all must share... Many of us have already conceded to their greater wisdom, and to their understanding of the interconnectedness of water and sky and land to sustain us. It's not about sacrificing one for the other; it's about practicing restraint with respect.
I'll leave you with these final thoughts.
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” ― Theodore Roosevelt