Note: if you want to know what the far-left thinks of Mr. Bundy and what he has been up to, this is your ticket...
BOISE, Idaho—Far-right agitator Ammon Bundy’s emerging bid to become the next governor of Idaho faces a peculiar roadblock: he is currently barred from entering the state Capitol where he would ostensibly need to conduct official business after being arrested there twice within 24 hours.
These days, Bundy—who along with his father Cliven became national icons of far-right resistance in the Obama era—is perhaps best known as the founder of the “People’s Rights” network. Since last spring, the group has led rowdy protests outside the homes of elected officials. In a move that foreshadowed the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the group stormed Idaho’s own Capitol building last summer.
The tactics are pure political intimidation, Bundy’s opponents have charged. Now, his seeking elected office is rattling some Idahoans, who say a campaign represents another step toward legitimizing anti-democratic tactics on the right.
Either way, it could get ugly.
The inauspicious beginnings of People’s Rights came at a poorly-attended meeting on March 26, 2020, in a drafty warehouse in the sleepy town of Emmett. Ammon Bundy, clad in his trademark black cowboy hat, blazer, and jeans, addressed a few dozen people in front of a neglected batting cage, urging them to band together to defend their rights.
The mood in the warehouse was restless and angry, with the crowd outraged by Idaho’s early pandemic restrictions, quoting and misquoting America’s founding documents while throwing around words like “tyrants.”
Bundy told them they needed to take that anger into the streets.
"It’s not calling up my legislators and saying, ‘I don’t like this, I think you should vote this way,’” he said. “That’s not what it is. It is all of us going to the governor’s house and saying, ‘You will not do this. We are not OK with it.’ We are going to his house, we’re going to go to this director of Health and Welfare’s house."
In his talk that day, Bundy suggested that even if 150 million Americans died from the pandemic, it wouldn’t justify government restrictions on gathering.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bundy defended the tactics and said People’s Rights would continue protesting at public officials’ homes.
“Someone who goes into the public square and becomes a representative or official, that’s what they should expect,” he said. “What we’re lacking, in my opinion, is that personal accountability in public officials.”
The bravado has worked. Fueled by backlash to anti-COVID measures, People’s Rights has grown to upwards of 40,000 people with branches from coast to coast, according to extremism experts. The group is organized so that it can mobilize members at short notice. And increasingly, local officials are on the receiving end of those calls to action—with their homes in the crosshairs, just as Bundy insisted.