Blog Post 13: The new right

The sagebrush rebellion was an environmental movement that took place in America in the 1970s through the 1980s. They were among the “first populist anti-environmental movements in the post-World War 2 era” (Turner). This movement was a “populist protest against public lands reform supported by western citizens, the natural resource industries, and local and state governments in the West” (Turner). This movement had to do with environmental land reforms of the American West including Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, several more western states that the federal government owned land on. The sagebrush rebellion had two goals in mind. The first one was to change the political beliefs and views of conservatives in the West by having local people make environmental choices about land conservation or cultivation. The second one was its “emphasis on long-standing themes in conservative thought, such as states’ rights” (Turner). Later in the article, Turner writes “the sagebrush rebels presumed that the states could manage the land in keeping with local interests, giving priority to free enterprise and dispensing with the federal government red tape”. Essentially, these sagebrush rebels wanted less federal involvement in land options and laws. Mainly, their main point was to take back federal land and put that land in the hands of local and state governments, instead. 

The wise use movement was a similar but also opposing group of rebels. Their beliefs were that of manifest destiny. They were anti-environmentalist and thought that if there was viable land, it should be used to help benefit the economy. Similar to the sagebrush rebels, they both wanted less federal land to be owned in America. The wise use rebels were more militant and carried weapons on federal land in protest. The wise use rebels operated at a much more local level than the sagebrush rebels did. The sagebrush rebels operated at more of a state level (Turner). 

Battles over public land helped shape the New Right by experiencing a change in who is in local government and how much power the state held. For the sagebrush, they wanted to have more state power so they could decide what they wanted to do with their land. The wise use movement pushed for a stronger local government so that resources could be either cultivated or protected. Overall the political decisions made in the west during these movements made the west more republican. This was done by the overall agreement of opposing public land reform (Turner). People could utilize the land and this increased the notion of capitalism and conservatism. 

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