New Right on the Environment

Two determining movements for the New Right included the sagebrush rebellion and the wise use movement. Both served as rallying cries for the New Right, yet it seems the more effective movement was the wise use movement. Turner defines the sagebrush rebellion as “a populist protest against public lands reform supported by western citizens, the natural resource industries, and local and state governments in the West.” (125) These protests grew out of a rise in liberal action for environmental protection through government policies. The rebellion rallied Republicans together to fight political action. In this movement, republicans were concerned about state rights. The wise use movement was also a political movement spearheaded by the New Right. What made this movement different is “the more positive assertions of individual property rights.” (125) Interestingly, opponents of the movements achieved more during the sagebrush movement than the wise use movement. The issue with the sagebrush rebellion was focused heavily on state’s rights, focused on more national concerns rather than rural citizens, and the rise of the wise use movement.  Turner also says the wise use movement  “reflected the evolving strategies of the New Right.” (137) These strategies would help define the New Right. 

These battles over the West were another stone in the foundation of the New Right. It seems this was a common consensus among Republicans, which allowed politicians to use the issue to get votes. One particular reason the right wing was up in arms was their belief in state rights and the shift to more concerns over individual property rights. Republicans thought public land should be dealt with at the state level rather than the federal government. When rounding out the article, Turner states, “The evolution of the environmental opposition, as seen in public lands debates in the West, represented the transformation of conservative political ideology away from the reactionary antifederalist politics that emphasized what its adherents opposed toward positive emphasizing individual rights.” (148) Turner really hits home that the environmental protests and movements must be taken into consideration when examining the New Right. 

It’s truly fascinating how different aspects of life become politicized. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe the other side of arguments. In this instance, it’s hard for me to understand why everyone wasn’t voting for environmental protection. But it still rings true today. Big businesses are very influential in our government system. If hurting the environment helps the economy, some would do almost anything to see our economy flourish while our environment steadily dies. I also think it’s interesting that we align certain political values with each party. It makes me think of the Founding father and how they didn’t want two parties to emerge.

One thought on “New Right on the Environment

  1. Johanna, your comment about it being hard to understand that people may be against a stance, for example, environmental protection, is something that I have thought about but not in much detail. It seems like many people refuse to look at the other side that they believe. As you said, large industries want to ruin the environment to be able to help the economy, but what they don’t think about is the fact that protecting the environment will ultimately help keep the earth alive and well for a longer period of time. Many are oblivious to the other side of view.


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