Over the years there have been many examples of dead people voting. Less frequently dead people have actually been elected to office. Now we have a “dead party walking.” After years on life support, the Wyoming Democratic Party has succumbed despite the heroic efforts of the other Party to breathe life into its limp body. Given the rigor mortis, it’s impossible to determine the date of death however, the cause is obvious. While the few remaining family members claim it was a homicide, the death has all the hallmarks of suicide.
The Party will be remembered for those times when it sang “Happy days Are Here Again” though it’s been many years since the final refrain. The Party was predeceased by activists and statesmen and women who understood what it took to breathe life into a Party even in this conservative cemetery, e.g. Joseph Carey, John Kendrick, Nellie Tayloe Ross, Leslie Miller, Joe O’Mahoney, Lester C. Hunt, Gale McGee, Teno Roncalio, Joe Hickey, Jack Gage, Ed Herschler, Mike Sullivan and Dave Freudenthal. Yet even their memory failed to spark enough energy to reignite the heart of this Party.
The Party had apparently slipped into a coma during the most recent session of the legislature which many observers thought was the most painful in Wyoming history. The GOP offered several antidotes including its rejection of 38 million dollars to extend unemployment benefits to long term unemployed citizens. Even when it was learned that several legislators like Matt Teeters voted against their unemployed constituents while themselves receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in agricultural subsidies the Democratic Party was simply too weak to speak up. Teeters didn’t think it wise to assist unemployed families in providing for their children but took more than his fair share from the public trough. He was one of the 27 legislators for whose Hawaiian trip you and I paid. But, even that didn’t arouse the Democratic Party from its slumber.
Indeed the Party was unexpectedly quiet as the Republican majority in the legislature launched unprecedented assaults on personal freedoms, state’s rights and women in particular. The failure of the Party to respond was a sure sign the end was inevitable.
Even Wyoming’s Republican Congressional delegation made a valiant attempt to resuscitate the Democrats by voting as a bloc to end Medicare and impose severe budget cuts on middle class programs while insisting on giving more tax breaks to the uber-wealthy. Senator John Barrasso who calls himself “Wyoming’s Doctor,” made numerous house calls, resorting to increasingly large doses of distorted facts in a last minute hope to save this patient.
The Party was simply too moribund to take nourishment much less notice when Wyofiles.com told a story of one of our US Senator’s son’s benefiting personally from stimulus spending while his father was denouncing the program as “bailout baloney.” Even this abuse of the stimulus could not provide the Wyoming Democratic Party any stimulus.
In the Party’s waning hours, Secretary of State Max Maxfield reached out to help by filing a lawsuit to overturn a term limits law the voters had enacted through an Initiative and Referendum. The Democratic Party who had such a weak pulse it was unable to speak for the tens of thousands of voters who had enacted the law over the objections of their elected officials. Certainly Maxfield must have expected to get a rise from the Democrats…but alas, to no avail.
The Party’s silence has long been deafening and its heart too weak. The Party that once prided itself on giving a voice to the voiceless has itself become voiceless. Perhaps Wyoming is just too small. Perhaps this “everyone knows everyone else” image of Wyoming makes it impossible for two parties to survive if you expect one to hold the other accountable.
Services are pending and will be scheduled at a later date if anyone cares.