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Will Bear Costume Get Presidential Candidates Talking About National Parks?

Teddy for President; NPCA photo

Teddy for President; NPCA photo

What will it take for those running for the White House to talk about the important issues surrounding our National Parks? If you seen some of the early debates, you'll know, they've talked about nearly everything else under the sun so far, but nothing about the parks yet. Wouldn't it help you pick a candidate if you knew their opinion of the snowmobile issue in Yellowstone? What would Rudi Giuliani say about the Katmai bear hunt? Is Barack Obama aware of the ORV issue in Big Cypress? Does Clinton care that Glacier's glaciers will soon be gone? Will Romney pledge to eliminate the National Parks maintenance backlog?

Let's talk about a candidate that's got something to say. Since it is Halloween, it almost seems appropriate that it's a person dressed up in a bear costume. The National Parks Conservation Association has just rolled out a new campaign. They've got a bear named Teddy Mather running for President. Weighed against the very serious nature of the Democrat and Republican campaigns, Teddy's campaign seems very light hearted and almost silly. After all, a guy in an goofy over-sized bear outfit hardly implies "great leader". But I don't think that's the point. The point, I believe, is to get people talking, more specifically, to get the presidential candidates talking about the parks.

And he's right, let's get talking. I'm glad we already know how Fred Thompson feels about oil drilling in the Everglades -- is it any wonder he's been dropping in the polls? During the 2000 presidential race, we had Al Gore climbing Mt Rainier, and we even had George Bush promising to eliminate the NPS maintenance backlog (back when it as only $4.9 Billion). Considering that the national parks are typically politically "safe", I'm surprised we haven't heard much yet. When the race leaves Iowa and New Hampshire (the two states combined have 3 park units totaling just 3078 acres), perhaps we'll hear more about the serious topics surrounding our parklands. Time is running out, who will be the first to schedule a photo op at the Grand Canyon?

Teddy Mather Promo


We won't hear presidential candidates talking about national parks because they simply aren't on the radar of the general voting public. A program on NPR today reported that just a little over half the country considers the environment as a major concern (with no specific mention of national parks). The most significant concerns are currently the war and the economy.

Even if candidates talk about national parks, it'll be just that. Empty talk. Candidates treat national parks as little more than a poker chip in a bid for the White House. Don't you want to see the national parks removed from a political system that treats our national tresures so cavalierly? I do.

There is one candidate who would actually work to accomplish that goal. Ron Paul. He was one of the few to vote against the pork spending bill that created New Jersey's newest national park (the that didn't meet the NPS's criteria for inclusion in the system). He would work to eliminate the DOI, disband the inefficient bureaucrasy, and return management of national parks to local communities. He would restore the Constitution.

disband the inefficient bureaucrasy

I honestly don't believe that Ron can back this statement. Prove to me that there exist efficient bureaucrats. Certainly not in this political system. Not unless your idea of efficiency included efficiently bleeding the public financially dry for personal gain. Or efficiently avoiding issues of national concern and interest, akin to those issues that are bandied about as planks in a political platform that never again see the light of day in the post-election period. Strong talk, wussie attitude makes not an effective leadership. But gold star for attempting to eliminate the DOI. And still presently the least offensive option in the battle of "lesser of two (or three) evils".

Now if he would be so bold as to add a few more acronyms to that list he'd really be on to something. Provided they were actually feasible to accomplish without Congressional interference.

Great idea... long as the poor beast doesn't make a political appearance at Katmai!

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