Debasing myself politically, I’ve joined the Republican Party. I never thought I would do this. The first time that I could vote in a primary, in New Hampshire in 1980, I voted for Jerry Brown. At Winter Park, Colorado, about 1984, I registered as a socialist. The election official was shocked and became angry. She nearly had a heart attack. Later, she told me it was the altitude. I knew better. A few years later, in Durango, I registered as a Green. My vote for Ralph Nader put George H.W. Bush in the White House.
For the next several decades I was a moderate and boring Democrat, but in presidential contests, at least as far as the popular vote goes, I never lost. There was that snafu in 2000, where Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush, and should have given Gore Florida’s winning Electoral votes, too. Unaccountably, democracy sank, oil companies continued stealing Middle Eastern petroleum, and airliners crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. These were evil yet eloquent warnings and expressions against the United States. Had Gore become president, the rationale for 9/11 just wouldn’t have been there, and by now we would be off our addiction to fossil fuels.
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“I will pay your legal fees!” Trump shouted in March of 2016, as a man punched another who was critical of Trump, and the nation slid into a pattern of increasingly fascist violence. This culminated in the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, and I, very oddly, suddenly gained respect and admiration for Representative Liz Cheney.
The reason for my party-registration change is to enable me to vote for Cheney in the Republican primary, and maybe in the November election, too, but by that point I’ll have to see who is out there. Some of my Democratic partners disagree with what I have done. One says she will no longer have lunch with me. Another explained that the Democratic Party in Wyoming is much better organized than the Republicans, and that we have better data. Later, I wondered if his data shows that we never win?
Why do we bother with politics and become angered and have heart attacks at these Rocky Mountain altitudes? The reason is usually so we can have a positive influence within our society. In the state or regional context, such as here in Wyoming, some of the issues are specific to us, others are national or global.
The candidates come as a part of a parcel. That is, we can expect Democratic candidates to promote things that require cooperative societal efforts, and are often complex, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, free public education, fair taxation, the protection of wilderness and wildlife, including protection for wild horses, and responsible resource extraction, to name a few. To achieve these things, it’s usually taken for granted that government will be the guarantor and enforcer, until they become self-enforcing parts of “The Social Contract.”
The Republican parcel of characteristics includes axing environmental regulations on resource extraction, getting rid of wildlife, including wild horses, so as to have more cattle and sheep on public lands, forced school prayer, making abortion illegal regardless of any threat to health or specific circumstances, and restricting “what kinds” of people can vote. An interesting socialistic twist on this, of course, is an insistence on keeping the federal government out of our business, yet an equal insistence that they pay Wyoming vastly more than we contribute. OK, so nobody is perfect, but that’s how it looks.
Back to the top of this editorial, people like me intend to join forces with moderate Republicans, and make Liz Cheney the official Republican candidate. Democrats have much on which they can disagree with Cheney, but she has impressed us with her honesty and courage, and we can therefore work with her. Also, she’s vastly better than the alternatives.
The far-right Republican extremists, a.k.a., fans of Donald Trump, the people who are currently running Wyoming’s Republican party, don’t have, in reality, anything enforceable to say about this. Their deplorable attitudes and interference are completely inappropriate. It was never intended that they should get to tell politicians what to say and how to vote. They are promoting a condition that might be called Fake Schizophrenia, the supposed belief, but really just acquiesce, in The Big Lie.
Democrats, please join me in some temporary self-abasement; we can blame it on the altitude.
Tom Gagnon lives in Rock Springs.