An ostensibly conservative neo-Republican state representative threw his hat into the race for governor recently descrying federal “tyranny” over Alaska. He said he recognizes no land ownership of the federal government in the state. He is also, as you might have guessed, an anti-vaxer. As governor he would be recalcitrant about defending against traditional Covid 19, the Covid 19 omicron deviance, and future deviant strains of the virus. His conservation seems mainly concerned with conserving ignorance of Alaska history and the social biology of viruses.
The candidate could of course just be a separatist who would just like to dominate or expropriate federal lands for himself and/or political allies and actually isn’t as uninformed as it seems. I don’t know what republic he supports as a member of the Republican party; is it the U.S. Republic?
I don’t often follow Alaska politics because of low expectations that politicians will do anything intelligent concerning environmental or alt energy infrastructure development, modernizing economic diversification or sustainability of natural resources. I wrote this comment because the concept of someone ignorant of Alaska’s history running for Governor, and in the news, expressing illogical or obtuse statements for several months deserves notice. One should resist historically unsupportable politic rhetoric. Therefore I wrote a brief historical sketch concerning the U.S. government ownership of most land in Alaska since they bought it from Russia 157 years ago in the transitional year of 1867.
It is said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The ignorant aren’t inevitably going to repeat history though, since they may not be smart enough to accomplish prior political errors for-themselves.
The U.S. Government was the first government over the entire state. Before the U.S. government there was a Russian Imperial government that claimed the state yet had settlements mostly along the coasts, leaving the interior and far north generally alone. Before the Russian there were countless waves of Eurasian migrants spanning 30,000 years- most of whom continued south, albeit slowly, along the coast and in the interior when ice-field recession allowed, as to points as far as Terra del Fuego and Florida. None of these tribes ruled the entire region known as the state of Alaska. Often they were at war with one another erasing the existence of previous or neighbor tribes when they could.
Land ownership and recognition of land ownership is important to a free enterprise democracy. The U.S. government bought Alaska from Russia and nearly a century later settled land claims with native or aboriginal Alaskans during the Nixon administration. To fail to recognize legitimate federal ownership of land purchased lawfully by anyone in the effort to take the land for oneself is like the action of a thief. Land thievery isn’t a good disposition for a governor to have, especially since if that became law it would controvert all land and native land settlements made with or purchased from the U.S. government. That would subvert most private land ownership in the state since it was all at one time owned by the U.S. government.
The U.S. government has been very generous in regard to land for Alaskans over the years. It had a homestead program that allowed Alaskans to stake claims for a pittance merely for paying survey costs to licensed surveyors. After statehood the U.S. Government gave vast tracks of land to the state government. Some of that land is continuously offered for sale to the public in regular sales. The U.S. Government gave Alaska more land than comprises the state of Delaware. In fact the state has more land than many Delawares. What more could anyone want?
The U.S. government has been the primary investor and developer in the state since the beginning of its ownership. It supplied the state’s first military government- Brevet Colonel Jefferson Davis, to serve until before development of a territorial Government and governor like Judge Wickersham. It created the Matanuska Colony and paid southern farmers to move to the Mat Valley to build farms during the 1930s. Some depression era farmers arrived and stayed.
Before the Japanese attack on Hawaii and later Alaska the territorial government military equipment was just two-hundred rifles in the Haines Barracks. During the war the U.S. built the Alaska highway, numerous airfields and military bases from Kodiak to Juneau. In the 500-mile air war followed by a ground assault the U.S. government had many casualties. The air war was especially treacherous flying from the Kodiak army air base to bomb Attu and Kiska islands. American athletes from the southwest were trained as commandos to retake islands captured by the Japanese. It was a very costly battle in one case with the second highest casualty percent among those involved, of the Pacific War placing second only to Iwo Jima. Many of those soldiers were native Americans who lost their live on a cold, windswept island ridge in a trench dug in the snow repelling three Japanese bonsai assaults. Yet a candidate for governor does not recognize U.S. ownership of any land in Alaska.
The U.S. Government has been a major investor in the state continuing through and after the Cold War with the former Soviet Union. Its air power has turned back hundreds or thousands of probing sorties by Russian nuclear weapons armed bombers along state borders. Its naval power continues to defend the shores from sudden invasion (although state bureaucrats might be able to stop a Chinese invasion of a few hundred thousand soldiers if the U.S. government no longer defended the state). Alaskan land, sea and space grant colleges have benefited from federal investments. State infrastructure from ports to roads have received federal funding for decades- even now federal investments in ports, the Marine Highway system and broadband internet and cell phone infrastructure is in progress.
I understand the feeling of arriving up north from the south and feeling like one is somewhere distant, in something like a colony. Alaska is several hundred miles from the closest state to the south, yet that is no excuse for ignorance concerning historical reality. Alaska might have been considered ‘far away’ before the invention of jet aircraft and the telephone. Some might wish to disavow ties to the U.S.A. and the government when traveling abroad because of the embarrassing decision of Chief Justice Roberts to legalize homosexual marriage. They might not support U.S. foreign military policy of supporting conflicts and chaos and eventual exit. There are reasons why, since the Vietnam War the United States has entered many conflicts and exited after high numbers of local casualties have resulted; namely it might be a consequence generally, thought not always, of making the world better for a planetary plutocracy.
Consider Venn diagrams and plutocrat capitalists as x’s. Russia has far fewer x’s than Europe and the U.S.A., yet Russia and its former homeland Ukraine have the most arable, available land and resources that were outside the realm of political control by the global plutocracy of the new world order. The majority of x’s want that land of the Ukraine and Russian circles. One might tire of ignorant national political leadership that pursues plutocratic interests and want strong national democracy with free enterprise and limited capital concentration that is reformed to function along a sustainable ecological economic basis with a much more egalitarian distribution of capital. Even so anachronistic approaches to politics won’t work and won’t solve much. They distract and default more control to what does work; global plutocracy in partnership with elite Chinese Communist Party leadership directing its own expansions into Africa, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere.
Federal investments in the second to last state to join the union continue in fields from education to science, anti-dope law enforcement to environmental conservation. The state isn’t simply a destination for environmental looters to plunder everything that exists in a lawless environment, though some people might wish it was. Neither is it a place for unequal protection of the law (Alaska had the first black federal sea captain on a revenue cutter patrolling Alaska waters in the proto-Coast Guard).
Sure the federal government does a lot of stupid, inept things especially when Democrats are in power. For instance, Speaker Pelosi has sought for several months to fund pre-school for 3 and 4 year olds where they can peacefully assemble to serve as Covid 19 infection vectors. I would think it will be at least five years before it would be a good idea to cluster maskless three year olds together in pre-schools, especially since they are too young for vaccinations (I belief that is still is the case).
Even so, the U.S. government’s title to Alaska land is plain, solid and honest as anything can be in the world. Historical daftness should be on the left side of politics; not the right, yet it commonly is equally apportioned as left and right de facto serve development of a two class society, with 1% owning 95% of wealth including national income, buffered by a minority middle class that defends against tax increases on the 1%, and the majority class of everyone else. Global plutocrats will rule, or do rule the national political economy partnered by willing bi-partisan insiders.
Some politicians never take the time to learn history during their rise to power and that ill suits leadership. I am a partial preterist and post-millennialist as a Christian whom believes that people including theologians and scientists often misinterpret the Bible book of Genesis as well as eschatological references in the Bible. For one thing many of the references Jesus made in Matthew concerning end times referred to the approach Jewish apocalypse at Jerusalem in 70 a.d. when perhaps a million Jews were slaughtered by the Roman army. The end of history and the conclusion of human existence could be tomorrow or in two or three billion years; one cannot really know. Yet if one is of the opinion that the tribulation is ahead and that the world including the federal government is run by demonic spirits and views the collapse of traditional morality seemingly forced by the federal government then one could be somewhat more radical in wishing to sever ties to that believed evil anti-Christian entity perching on the precipice of eternal damnation.
That sort of viewpoint can negate values of political competence concerned with making legislation that actually supports democracy and good health of the citizens and ecosphere of the nation as readily as moral corruption in politics can render the masses and politicians servo-units of global plutocrats concentrating wealth. There are so many networked tools to divide and conquer for socialist corporatism these days that ironically the late Joe Vogler’s Alaska Independence Party politics of separatism seems to have returned via the the race for governor.