You seem like a resonable guy, and I tend to agree with you on many issues, but don't really think that "toxic climate in Washington" has anything to do with the backcountry fee. Furthermore the suggestion that we should be happy to swallow the fee beacause they could easily close the whole backcountry is absurd. The fee is wrong for a host of reasons that, and to most people it's not about the $4, but the many lies told and the fact that it solely goes to fund a system we didn't need in the first place. Also from a cost standpoint backcountry users account for only a fraction of park costs so why closing the backcountry would save serious money is beyond me. Now Closing Cades Cove and you might save some coin.
Don't mean to harp on you, and hopefully we can still be internet friends If you want to get a bit more informed on the issue Adam (Crockett) had been one of the people leading the fight.Also been some informing post on GoSmokies, and of course on SFW.
Think of the family of 6 that now pays more for a backtcountry site than a front country