Cliven Bundy: Freeloader, Taker, Conservative Hero

The latest news story in conservative media is about a rancher in Nevada named Cliven Bundy. The conservative media will have you know that Cliven is the victim of the Federal government who has taken his property and taken his freedom. They will tell you that the Bureau of the Land Management, the BLM, is a tyrannical organization that is stomping on the rights of good Americans like Cliven. The Federal government showed up recently, and started rounding up Cliven’s cattle and putting them in the pen. 

Cliven Bundy, Freeloader, Taker, Conservative Hero

How dare they take his cattle! In response to all of the news stories a group of armed conservatives showed up to physically intimidate the government into backing down and releasing Cliven’s cattle, and as many of them stated in the interviews, they were willing to die fighting the federal government to defend “liberty.”

What were they really willing to kill or die for, when it comes to Cliven Bundy and his cattle? What really happened here? Why is the federal government rounding up his cattle and taking his property?

It’s because Cliven Bundy is a fucking freeloader and a thief.

Just about all ranchers in Nevada graze their cattle and water their cattle on the land that doesn’t belong to them. Much of the land in Nevada is owned by the Federal government and so those ranchers lease the land and pay grazing fees. Their cattle can graze on the brush of a larger swath of land and drink from the rivers that flow through the land. However, 21 years ago, in 1993, Cliven decided he didn’t want to pay rent. He decided that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the Federal government, and so he just wasn’t going to pay them.

He stopped paying his rent but he continued to let his cattle graze on land that was not his, and drink from the rivers that were not his. The BLM sent him a notice that his grazing fees were due. Cliven ignored them. The BLM sent more notices: “You haven’t paid your rent!” He ignored them and he continued letting his cattle roam all over land he does not own. He continued taking something that did not belong to him and something he was not authorized to take. The BLM got a court order ordering him to remove his cattle from the land, and ordering him to pay back rent for all the time that he had continued grazing on the land, and he ignored that court order as well. He continued to ignore all of the requests and orders from the government while continuing to steal and graze his cattle on the land that did not belong to him, and have them drink water from the rivers on the land that did not belong to him.

Cliven Bundy's Tribal Warlords21 years of this go on, and finally the government has had enough and they decide to round up the cattle and remove them from the land. When the authorities show up to perform the eviction for failure to pay rent, a gang armed with AR-15s shows up to fight off the police.

This is what these conservatives are holding up as a hero: A law-breaking, freeloading thief who refuses to pay his bills.

Imagine what the story would be like if Cliven was not a rich, white land owner who was taking from the federal government. Imagine what the story would be like if Cliven was a black man who is using government property without paying rent. He would be held up as another example of: the taker mentality, everything that’s wrong with liberalism, the destruction of our nation, and “THANKS OBAMA.” It’s all bullshit. Cliven didn’t pay rent for 21 years. It’s not like the government showed up two months after he stopped paying rent, with jack-booted thugs, kicking down doors, and taking all of his shit. 21 years, and then they finally came to evict him, and what he had was a conservative gang of tribal warlords with AR-15s, who decided that it would be good strategy to use women as human shields, so that if the government started shooting, that they would have a video of women being shot that they could use for media purposes.

These guys? Conservative heroes. 

Guys who ran toward the WTC on 9/11 who need help with medical bills? Well, it’s, uh, kind of expensive to pay for those things… and how do we really know they got sick in the WTC? 

But these tribal warlords with AR-15s? Heroes, because AMERICA.

They're really only entitlements when they're something other people want. When it's something YOU want, they're a hallmark of a civilized society--the foundation of a great people“They’re really only entitlements when they’re something other people want. When it’s something YOU want, they’re a hallmark of a civilized society–the foundation of a great people.” – Jon Stewart

When they see a non-white person taking something from the government, let’s say one of many assistance programs for the poor, but that person is also fulfilling the government’s requirements for taking that assistance… maybe it’s SNAP benefits and they’re required to take part in a job training program… when those people fulfill their end of the bargain and get something from the government, then those people are called freeloaders and takers. When Cliven takes something from the government and does not fulfill his end of the bargain, then he’s a hero deserving of an armed response from tribal warlords who are willing to kill federal agents. 

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills; how do they not see this?

I noticed while watching some Fox News coverage of this story, that they’ve twisted the language to deceptively imply a different situation than exists. Shocking, I know. For example, a lot of people who are on Cliven’s side are under the misconception that the real estate, the land, is owned by Cliven and is being taken away from him by the government, because of the word “property”. “Property” can be used to describe both real estate (e.g. “I own a property at 123 main street”), or it can be used to describe possessions that I own (e.g. “this is my personal property”). They go on TV and talk about how the government is taking “his property”, and they couple this with a conspiracy theory that Harry Reed is actually trying to use all of this property, i.e. real estate, for a Chinese-built solar power farm (total bullshit, but why let reality get in the way of good ratings?) They conflate these two things in their language; they say “property” referring to Cliven’s property, and they say “property” referring to the land owned by the Federal government, but the “property” they’re talking about the government taking from Cliven was the cattle. The cattle that had been on land he did not own for 21 fucking years which they started rounding up because Cliven refused to comply with numerous court orders.

The government isn’t stealing his property. He left his shit somewhere it didn’t belong, didn’t pay the rent, refused to comply with numerous court orders to move his shit, and then cries crocodile tears when the BLM starts removing his shit from the premises.

He’s been living in your house, and he’s got his couch, his TV, and his computer. The electronics are all turned on and using power. He stops paying rent for 21 years, and when you finally take his stuff out of your house and put it in the storage unit, then suddenly you’re a thief, right? You’re taking his property! No, you’re not taking his property. He left his shit where it didn’t belong for more than two decades. And the TV, and the computer have been on the whole time using electricity, not just taking up space but also using the resources of the location. 

It seems conservatism is on its way to becoming anarchy. Many libertarian conservatives desire a “Volunteer Society.” This ordeal in Nevada is an example of what they’d like to see happen. In the past, when I’ve asked them, “Let’s say, I own a house in your Volunteer Society, and some dude with a gun comes into my house and forces me out at gunpoint… What do I do? I can’t call the authorities because in your world we don’t have authorities. What do I do?”

Their response is “Call me up. I’ll help you. I’ll get a couple of my friends, with guns, and we’ll take it back for you.”

Tribal warlords. That is their vision for society. Gangs of warlords with AR-15s and flak-jackets is not “society,” it is anarchy.

I don’t want to live in anarchy. I know that the government isn’t perfect and that it makes mistakes. It didn’t make a mistake in this situation, or if it did, the only mistake was waiting so fucking long to evict this freeloader. I’d have been ok with them delaying 2 or 3 years before they evict him, but it’s gone on way too long. If you really wanna live in that kind of anarchy, go find some remote place in a third world country and enjoy your “liberty.”

This type of anarchy at the point of the gun is not conducive to society, safety, stability or civility.