The age-old axiom still holds true. Pay more attention to what politicians do than what they say. Take Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. On his congressional website, he declares: "As an avid outdoorsman, a clean environment and strong conservation programs are of the utmost concern to me [...] The House-passed budget recognizes the importance of these activities, which includes overseeing water resources, conservation, land management, and recreational resources."
So what has the "avid outdoorsman" from Wisconsin done when faced in Congress with real life eco-challenges?
The League of Conservation Voters, a lobbying arm of the national environmental movement, has kept track of congressional members' environmental voting records, and thus, provides some answers.
Over the years, Representative Ryan has voted to: block restoration of federal funds to purchase land for national parks' expansion; weaken statutory protections for wildlife and wildlife habitat in national forests at the behest of the timber industry; oppose diverting monies from timber sales to watershed restoration; support entry of logging into previously off limits federal wilderness areas; shift funds designated for construction of national forest trails to promotion of timber sales; permit grazing on public lands without appropriate environmental review; and delay reduction of noise pollution in Grand Canyon National Park.
Evidently sensing the possibility that the contradiction between his words and deeds could be noticed, Ryan subsequently tries to cover his tracks on his website. He resorts to the Right Wing's old saw of deflecting any criticism by portraying Washington bureaucrats as scapegoats. Any rollback of federal regulation, Ryan asserts, stems from the runaway expansion of big government that "has only led to duplication, waste, and mismanagement." The avid outdoorsman is off the hook, or so he thinks.
We all know that words come cheap during political campaigns. If a candidate's rhetoric sounds too good to be true, assume that it is until convincingly demonstrated otherwise. Prudence, at least, will spare you from feeling double-crossed, regardless of who wins the election.