We live in a country deeply divided and growing more so every week.
And yet, we are all Americans. We share a common history and partake of inherited blessings that have grown out of long-shared ideals. As such, it’s important to appreciate the good in our political system when we find it. The American system has allowed men to be free for longer, achieve dreams faster, and pass those freedoms and dreams down to their children and grandchildren for generations.
Of course, no system is perfect. And those we elect to represent us in it are perfectly human, which is to say, perfectly flawed. This is why we should never forget to applaud good leadership and good policy when we find it, even when it is proposed by those we often disagree with.
As an illustration of this, I wish to congratulate Governor Gordon, who was not the first choice of Wyoming’s conservative majority to become the chief executive of our state. Even so, he did run as a Republican and has often claimed to be a devotee of conservative principles. And in recent weeks he has demonstrated some courageous conservative leadership worthy of recognition.
First was the announcement that by 2028, Wyoming will be getting its first new nuclear power plant. And it’s not just any old nuclear power plant, but a first of its kind “Natrium” design, featuring a sodium-cooled fast reactor along with a molten salt energy storage system. This project was awarded initial funding by the U.S.
Department of Energy, which is investing nearly $2 billon to support the licensing and construction of the reactor. Between 2,000 and 3,000 construction jobs will be generated along the way, with 300 to 400 permanent positions to follow once it is built. This is a major win for Wyoming and could help to restore America’s energy independence, which was so recently thrown away. Mr. Gordon should be commended for taking the political risk of tackling such a complex, long term initiative.
The next policy point to be applauded was the Governor’s recent attempts to bring the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) national headquarters to Wyoming. The NRA is currently deciding where to move their headquarters after the decision to leave New York. Wyoming couldn’t be a more fitting place to host them. Wyoming has the third highest gun ownership numbers in the country with 66.20 percent of citizens owning a gun; only Alaska and Montana are higher. We are a state passionate about our Second Amendment rights.
It may not seem like much to some, but Wyoming would be the perfect place for the oft embattled NRA to defend and expand its generations-long role as America’s foundational gun ownership association. Mr. Gordon was bold and farsighted to make this ask and we can only hope the NRA has the common sense to seriously consider us. Even though they may ultimately decide to go somewhere else, Wyoming NRA members should follow Gordon’s lead and voice their support of this move now before the decision is made. Supplementing the Governor’s letter with more Wyoming voices could turn the outcome in our favor.
Last but not least, and very politically impressive, was Governor Gordon’s announcement that he, in collaboration with Wyoming Homeland Security, is considering requests by Texas Governor Abbot and Arizona Governor Ducey to have friendly states provide assistance with the restoration of law and order at the U.S. – Mexico border. The magnitude of this border crisis unprecedented, and it is wise of Governor Gordon to not dismiss this request out of hand, but rather to take the time to learn the facts and to decide how best Wyoming can help. Mr. Gordon had previously offered aerial support valued up to
$250,000 but found ultimately it did not fit the needs at the border.
But the fact he is on record as recognizing the threat to our nation if we do not secure our borders is something he should be congratulated for. It is the right policy position. Wyoming citizens would do well to write or call Mr. Gordon and let him know they support the use of our National Guardsmen or any other resources to secure our border and thank him for working to provide the right assets to Texas and Arizona.
While for many it may seem ridiculous to congratulate a politician on doing the right things, it is one of the best ways forward for our nation. Why? Because our politics have become far too angry, far too personal, and far too ugly. We are a country addicted to outrage, to the point that thanking an elected official seems ridiculous. It shouldn’t be. Good policy positions should be applauded and more of the same should be encouraged. Outrage will never change someone’s strongly held beliefs on an issue and perhaps kindness won’t either, but it is better for us going forward to focus more on policy and principles, and less on personality. Being able to thank someone you don’t always agree with is a good lesson in civility. We could use more of that.
These past few weeks Governor Gordon has made some excellent policy points. He’s had to make tough, unpopular decisions during the pandemic, but now, as we come out the mess of Covid-19 there is no reason not to recognize these good initiatives, especially those that could bring much needed jobs and resources and heightened morale to our state and to some of our communities that need it the most.
Harlan is a former state legislator from Cheyenne. He can be reached at email@example.com