Post Election Action is Critical for Sportsmen
by Rob Sexton
The dust has only begun to settle on Tuesday night's sweeping decision by Americans to re-make the face of our government once again. Both in the nation's capitol and in the states, Republicans made gains that will substantially shape the future of the country and, of course, the lives of many sportsmen and women.
The difference this time will be all about priorities.
The vast majority of our elected officials will be headed to the capitols to try to address major economic concerns and serious budget shortfalls. In many races, victors were heard to say that anything and everything is on the table to balance budgets and jumpstart economies.
Given the length and depth of this recession I suspect that is true. And that means that sportsmen, perhaps more than ever before, must engage their state and national government.
Beginning in January a new pack of politicians will take office. And these are folks that are unlikely to have ever heard of the critical connection between our successful wildlife conservation history and American sportsmen and women.
They may not know that hunting and fishing are major economic drivers across the U.S. They may not understand that sportsmen pay the freight when it comes to habitat conservation, land acquisition and wildlife management through the licenses bought by hunters, anglers and trappers.
And unless we as a community take action, there will be many legislators tempted by the pots of money where our hunting and fishing license dollars are kept. This will be especially true as budget axes begin falling to address the sea of red ink. Once those funds are raided to pay for parks, or roads or prisons or education or any other laudable function of government, we will effectively be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Once sportsmen no longer see a connection between their licenses and beautiful wild places to hunt and fish, they will be much, much harder to convince to support license fees at all.
To us it would be no different than seeing the government take our social security taxes and know that they will not be used for that purpose.
So what this all means is that it is up to us to get busy right now.
We must reach out to these newly elected officials and begin the process of introduction and education into our community. In some cases some of this has already been done. But it's our job to make sure it is done in every case.
To be sure, national sportsmen organizations including the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance will be doing this important work. But truly, the best and most effective place for a legislator to get this kind of information is straight from one of their own constituents. Why? Because right now when it is fresh in their minds, these elected officials know that without you, they would not have the honor to serve. Right now is the time to get busy so that we are not trying to educate after poor decisions are made. Letting that happen would be as much our responsibility as those making the decisions.
Rob Sexton is the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs.