January 21, 2019
By Darr Moon
The United States Constitution guarantees every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government (Article IV, Section 4). This simple promise to the States is only vaguely apparent in the operations of the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho or within any federally managed lands across the nation. The omission of this Constitutional mandate may appear to be insignificant for those who do not understand that the protections of life, property and due processes are guaranteed via this “Republican Form of Government”. The simple social significance is paramount to the maintenance of prosperity and happiness. The lack thereof is of paramount concern for all Americans who have bona fide rights to access lands, to water rights for mining and stock watering, for mineral claimants who have rights to explore and mine precious metals, for those with animal grazing rights, for those with timber rights and for those many other unenumerated rights that all Americans enjoy. These rights and the great resources on “Public Lands” that Americans should “freely” enjoy are managed by the Department of Agriculture through the U.S. Forest Service with few protections and processes afforded under Article IV, Section 4.
In order to have a Republican Form of Government, one must have representatives who are elected as delegates to represent the people from their Districts, Counties, and Towns. These guarantees are evident only in the most inconsequential ways on lands administered by federal bureaucracies within the borders of our State. Let me be more specific to my concern with the example of Federal Jurisdiction within the lands of the State of Idaho, most particularly the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
In Idaho, I enjoy various forms of Representation. I have the opportunity to vote at each level of State, County and local governments to express my voice in the leadership of each jurisdiction thereof. My vote makes it possible for me to be engaged in a process that selects my Governor, my Legislators, my Judges, my County Commissioners, my Sheriff and my Mayor. All these layers of representation give me an opportunity to redress my grievances to someone elected who is beholden to the vote of the people and who is local within the jurisdiction for which they represent. The right to govern is only loaned to those officeholders elected and only within the limits of their terms and only under condition of good behavior. These protections are woven into our Republican system to secure property rights, equal opportunity to obtain prosperity, due process of law and the protection of these fundamental rights through the courts and other offices of the law all beholden to the citizen and the voter. These protections are part of the foundation of our Republican form of government best recorded by the author of our Constitution, James Madison and elaborated specifically in Federalist Paper No. 39.
The protections enjoyed by Idahoans through Article IV, Section 4, are limited, almost null and void in the lands of this State where federal jurisdiction controls. The Salmon-Challis Forest occupies most of 80 percent of the lands within Custer and Lemhi Counties and provides only four positions for which I am eligible to vote, none of which are within local proximity to redress my grievances. I am privileged to vote for two Senators, the Congressman of my District and the President of the United States. That’s it! Federal representation is so inconspicuous that it is rare to garner more than a form letter response to any objection from any of my Congressmen. I am, however, frequently invited to invest in their next political campaign. I find myself left high and dry searching for resolution within this federal jurisdiction that seems to expand without bounds. Chief among my grievances are federal mandates promulgated by unelected bureaucrats that trample my Constitutionally guaranteed liberties and bona fide property rights. There are no locally elected federal representatives to appeal my concerns to and I find myself in competition with millions of other Americans who live well beyond Idaho’s border, having no such mineral claims, water rights or grazing rights, lobbying their multitude of Congressmen to run me out of business. This form of government is best described as a Democracy where the majority votes their will at the expense of any Constitutional guarantee I might have. This type of governance is more correctly described as “mob rule”, where the rights of the minority are inferior to the majority.
James Madison also wrote of this type of Democratic governance in Federalist No. 10 where he further defined our Republic as one which protects rights of the minority through broad representation so that majority factions cannot overtake the minority. Federalism is therefore an important and necessary component in balancing rights between the broad wishes of a national majority with local minority interests of the States and the People.
Within the confines of the national jurisdiction over the Salmon-Challis forest, I have little protection under the law from my County Sheriff or his deputies. They are structurally impotent and secondary to the administration of federal law. I am at the whim of an unelected bureaucracy empowered by a pistol-packing federal police force. When I fall short of the law according to their voluminous rendition, I am prosecuted to the fullest by a federal justice system that puts me at odds against the entire might of the United States government in a court where I have no opportunity to be judged by my peers. The federal court in Pocatello is two hundred miles away and adjudicated by a Federal Judge that [neither] I nor my fellow citizens have any indirect authority over. The Judge is appointed by the President, the only elected official who I can solicit against any unjust outcome via a pardon or commutation. This daunting realization looms large in communities where federal supremacy outweighs the defense of liberty. Especially in an undermined non-republican system where jurisdiction has been hijacked from the State. Any notion that Constitutional principles operate under a Republican Form of Government in my neck of the woods is completely ludicrous, intoxicatingly farcical and humiliating.
The Democratic process emplaced by the bureaucracy which assumes to redress all comments for policy implementation in the Salmon-Challis forest is resolved by only one man, the Forest Service Supervisor. His prerogative is so similar to that of the Sheriff of Nottingham one might wonder if there really still exists a King he bows to. The local minority without representation or due process has forfeited most of their once protected property rights. Rights within this system are further watered down via the compulsory obligation to be involved with various ad hock advocacy groups or collaboratives that care little about my interests. All I have remaining is a Hail Mary attempt to protect what little influence I might have by joining this mob. Only the epitaph of republican virtue remains. I am vastly outnumbered by people who are represented in these collaboratives. Special interest groups with large national followings advocate against my interests. When I ask to be involved in a “task force” which overviews my area of concern I am denied the privilege and relegated to the non-voting status of the functionally deplorable. The “Collaborative” has great power against any minority right, even scoffing at the silly assumption that I even have rights. My right to self-determination and my right to use vested property rights in this forest as my heritage has allowed is considered grievously antiquated in the eyes of these newly unelected.
The overreach of outside special interest groups cultivated by this type of democracy has had perilous consequences to the prosperity of my community. The Draft Forest Assessment gives clear evidence of my concerns. Although Idaho’s population is increasing at the fastest rate in the nation, the county’s population within the Salmon-Challis forest is decreasing at an alarming inverse rate. The median age in Custer and Lemhi Counties is over 50 while the state median is 35. Young people cannot come back home after they graduate from High School, there are few opportunities. This recipe offers little hope for future economic prosperity. These facts, written in the Forest Assessment, forebode a warning that my generation will be the one who closes the final chapter on how the West was lost. The future looks even grimmer when one factors in the gloomy statistic that nearly one-quarter of the area’s residents are 65 years or older and that nearly 19 percent of all people in the two counties are disabled. American dream or American nightmare? Most Americans can’t and never will be able to live here; this seems to be the basis underlying the actions identified in Salmon-Challis Forest Assessment Plan. Only those fascinated by Malthusian theory could appreciate such a predicament; men are persecuted as invasive species and Wilderness glorified as God.
The draconian policies that have led to my community’s ruin are all directly related to the “out-of-town” and “out-of-touch” bureaucrats and special interest groups who have tinkered with their failed adventures in my neighborhood at all of our expense. They have hung us out to dry like tanned hides in the sun with no inkling that at some time, apparently well in the past, Americans were protected from such democratic tyranny.
This is what democracy has brought to our once thriving forest community. Certainly, this type of governance must have been what the Founders contemplated and remedied by so wisely guaranteeing each State a Republican Form of Government; only so long as we could keep it.