Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Wyoming Democratic Party (1890-2011)

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 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.


  1. Thanks for putting a voice to what many of us have been thinking (and writing about) the past few years. The 2008 election provided us with a shot of adrenaline but it quickly wore off. Very sad...

  2. Max Maxfield testing the term limits as enacted by the voters is an absolute shame. The Republican Party should also be a voicing their concern over this.

    I’m sure that if former Governor Dave Freudenthal had contested term limits in an effort to serve a third term the Republican Part would have squealed like stuck elephants.

    Salt & Light Perspective Blog

  3. Interesting title the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle chose to put on this article.

    There are many ways to interpret this op-ed. Sadly I think many Dems will take it negatively.

    I view this as a plea from someone who recognizes that we need critical life support. Our party has a weak pulse. Many have left our party and registered as independents; as Republicans to avoid scrutiny; or just given up all together.

    The life of the Democratic party is still valuable. It's still needed, and the children need our leadership and our guidance more than ever. We need every Democrat to hang on and to cling to life -- not to surrender and exhale that last breath of air.

    We also need party leadership that recognizes that we need a motivator. We need someone with the passion and skill to raise the adrenaline level. We don't need CPR -- we don't need defibrillation yet, but we do need the leadership to at least show some signs of life themselves.

  4. My intent in writing this was to motivate the Party to find a leader who will lead. The Party is valuable only if it serves to hold the GOP accountable. I do believe in resurrection!

  5. I was in the audience when Blowing in the Wind delivered his nostalgic message to the Natrona County Democratic Women's Forum. I now read his attempt to motivate our Party to find a leader who will lead. It is interesting that Blowing decries the lack of Party leadership when he plays no active role with the Party but claims to be an expert on what the Party is not doing.
    Blowing joins the many Democrats who were former leaders and then become inactive when they leave those positions. How dare you criticize our Party for failing to fill the slot you deserted through your inactivity. When you drop out you weaken the Party and put it in the position of having to rediscover the wheel. Then you criticize the Party for having to rebuild. I have been begging and pleading with members of the old guard to stay regularly involved. There is much you can still contribute to strengthen the Party. I have a to-do list. Go on line and contact the Natrona County Democrats---specifically R.C. Johnson, Chair---I'm calling your hand, Windy

  6. OOH Rodger- Now you made RC mad! And though I agree with you the party has been too silent on too many things, I don't think time of death has been called yet. In Pinedale we post funeral notices on the Post Office doors,( and though we here have been bleeding heavily for long time, and we've been putting band aids on our slit wrists,) there are still signs of life and occasionally small puffs of breaths. Your article only voices what the Republican party would like us to think- that we are voiceless and might as well give up. It's what the abusive husband tells his wife as she once again picks herself up from the floor after taking another beating, but RC s right, maybe more people out there need to stop looking away from the tragedy of the party and start helping us stand back up again and get out of this terrible situation. We do want out, we do want help, we want to have a voice. Right now it may just be a whisper, but maybe somewhere out there Blowing in the Wind is a megaphone that will amplify our breaths growing stronger and our voices getting louder.

  7. I think we can all "stand back up" but that doesn't necessarily mean being a party activist. The Party has a role to fill and it is not being filled! It's odd that the criticism aimed at me for calling on the Party leaders to do their job is that I should be doing it. If someone takes the job as state chair of one of the two major parties, they should be expected to do that job! That is where it begins. I will continue to find my own way to be and speak and act to promote social justice. "The tragedy of the Party" can only be fixed by the Party. I do believe the Wyoming Democratic Party is functionally dead...but, as you know I also believe in resurrection.