Week 13

During the 1960s and 70’s there was a considerable concern for environmental protection. Many concerned citizens feared that major American companies would violate the Wilderness Act of 1964. The wilderness act of 1964 was established to protect federal lands from being used for developing and using motorized vehicles. Many politicians took advantage of this concern to gain office and popularity among the American people. All this concern helped create what is now known as the “Sagebrush Rebellion”. The Sagebrush Rebellion was a populist protest against public land reform supported by Western cities, the natural resource industries, and local government in the West. This rebellion had a significant impact on the politics of the Republican Party. The supporters of the Sagebrush Rebellion wanted to access federal public lands to use them for the natural resources buried there. The Sagebrush Rebellion was able to mobilize the conservative activism going on in the rural West. Many Sagebrush rebels voiced their objections that the states had the right to the land that was in their boundaries and the federal government was denying that right. There was a major concern for public lands during the election of Ronald Reagan. President Reagan appointed James Watt, who was a rural westerner, and head of the industry-funded Mountian States Legal Foundation, as secretary of the interior. He wanted to reduce the size of the land that the federal government had control of to grow the industry market in these lands. Another organization that got a lot of attention during this time which was the “Wise Use” movement. The wise use movement marked a resurgence in the populist resistance to the use of protected lands. The wise use movement included the same kinds of people as the Sagebrush Rebellion included. The wise use movement was able to able to make a difference in politics compared to the Sagebrush Rebellion.  The Wise Up movement was a “Wake Up” call for the New Right. This new movement allowed a new language for the conservatives instead of Race and Communism. There was a lot of political synergy between the “New Right” and the Wise Use movements that allowed them to take control of Congress. All these different factors allowed for the growth and popularity of the “New Right” movement.

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