Hamilton: Rebellion, blowing in the sagebrush?
March 31, 2016
Almost 20 years ago, Wonder Wife and I were on horseback on the King Ranch northwest of Granby, Colorado. Between our horses rode the legendary western singer, Michael Martin Murphey. As we rode along, the bizjet-owning Murphey suggested our local airport would attract more traffic by having its own web pages plus an automated weather observation system, an AWOS. Not long after, http://www.granbyairport.com was created. And, if you dial 970.887.1803, anyone with a landline or a cell phone can hear the automated weather broadcast from Granby/Grand County Airport — Emily Warner Field.
Yet the larger importance of our conversation had to do with the lyrics of Murphey's hit single "Rangeland Rebel." We did not understand it at the time; however, Michael Martin Murphey was foretelling what we witnessed last week when we saw long lines of voters waiting, in some cases, for as many as three hours to cast their votes in the Republican and Democratic caucuses and primary elections. And not just anywhere. But in sagebrush-covered western states spreading from the Canadian to the Mexican border.
We may be witnessing the rebirth of the Sagebrush Rebellion, the tide that swamped Jimmy Carter and lifted Ronald Reagan into the White House. Why? Because people on both sides of the political aisle and independents are fed up! Fed up with throwing away American lives without victory. Fed up with America's loss of stature in the world. Fed up with economic policies that punish small businesses, salaried workers, and seniors on fixed incomes. Fed up with a fantasy health-care scheme. Fed up with a Republican-Democrat coalition in Washington that seems tone deaf to the concerns of work-a-day Americans.
A few verses from "Rangeland Rebel" illustrate the frustrations we saw welling up last week out of the Rocky Mountains.
"…Now gather 'round cowboys.
Saddle up a good horse.
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And ride for your land,
Or it'll be a golf course.
Before they tear down the mountains,
And cover the trails,
You won't find the bean counters,
When the banks start to fail.
"In a high rise in Denver, there's a CEO.
Can't wait for the winter.
Take your water for snow.
He'll charge you for water.
He'll charge you for air.
Cheat his own son and daughter,
For his insider share.
"You might wake up one morning
And get a big shock.
To see the name 'Ted and Jane' on your neighbor's mailbox.
But it ain't Ted and Jane's fault.
It's the ones who sell out.
Put the money in the bank vault,
Before they get the hell out…"
With Murphey's permission, we sprinkled those verses through The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn, our novel about how the waters of the Rocky Mountains were "stolen" to accelerate urban sprawl along Colorado's Front Range.
Now, fast forward to 2016: Ironically, today's front-running candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are distrusted by 65-percent of the American people. That runs counter to the spirit of the Sagebrush Rebellion that calls for America to saddle up an honest, straight-shooter president who will ride in support of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Come November, pray America elects a true Rangeland Rebel.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.