Out west in Nevada Cliven Bundy 'won' his standoff with the BLM officers who tried to repossess cattle improperly grazing on protected land. He refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years, and after all of the court cases were decided against him, he owes the Government more than a million dollars in fees and penalties. So, insofar as he gets to continue doing what he's doing, he 'won' that particular conflict. Of course, to do it, he had to rile up as many disaffected anti authority gun nuts as he could, in order to momentarily outgun the Feds.
Which of course means the public at large loses. We lose the million dollars he owes us, we lose respect for lawfully constituted authority, we lose protected habitat for endangered desert tortoises, his neighboring ranchers who abide by the law have to compete in the marketplace with someone who doesn't have to deal with the costs of lawfully doing business. What do we gain? we gain a political movement that doesn't hesitate to use threats of deadly violence to advance their agenda.
If the Feds were wearing their thinking caps, every person who took up arms and stood with Mr. Bundy will get added to a list of potential domestic terrorists. I fear that in the future, more people will chose to defy the federal government in a similar fashion and someone, or a lot of someones will get killed. In this instance the Feds probably chose correctly, when they elected not start shooting. The tortoises that live on the land probably are safer from Mr. Bundy's cattle than they are from retaliation minded rednecks in the event of violence.
The BLM is nothing if not patient, and by working with the IRS and the court system, they will no doubt eventually be able to thwart Mr Bundy, especially given his habit of going on record with ignorant racist bilge. If the reactionary wing of the American right thinks they have a champion in Mr Bundy, they are mistaken. His appeal is limited to the people who thought Archie Bunker was the hero of 'All in the Family'.
So when the next bunch of 'patriots' openly defies the feds, will it be in the Nevada desert? or will it be closer to home? Who watched the situation play out on their TV and will decide that they too can fight the law and win? If this leads to more violence down the road, are we going to look back and see this as a missed opportunity?