It says something that the initial speculation about next year’s Republican primary for the senate is NOT about whether Liz Cheney will defeat Mike Enzi. Instead it’s about which Democrat will be around after that war to bury the dead and house the refugees.
Republicans agree on the consequences of Liz Cheney’s selfish decision. Al Simpson said that Liz Cheney running against Mike Enzi would be “a disaster – a divisive, ugly situation – and all it does is open the door for the Democrats [in Wyoming] for 20 years.”
It’s been more than 40 years since that door opened for Democrats. It’s been more than 30 years since the door was slammed in my face in 1982. So I was entertained, maybe a little baited, to see my name thrown into the hat by the speculators. To be fair, I was listed third following Dave Freudenthal and Mike Massie. Given their qualifications, that made me an afterthought, mentioned only because these lists must always come in threes.
After speaking to my old friend Jack Mueller a reporter for Newsmax.com said, “The third name is Rodger McDaniel, one-time boy wonder of Wyoming politics and favorite of the party's left. A former congressional staffer, state legislator, and ordained minister, McDaniel, in Jack Mueller's words, "is a liberal, even by Colorado standards. He is a '60s and '70s hippie who has never grown up.
“Mueller recalled, ‘McDaniel and his wife burned their marriage certificate in protest recently to show solidarity for gay marriage. He won't have much money, but he will be loud and energetic and the media will love him."
Until reading those words and thinking of myself in those terms, I had given no thought to running again. But maybe what Wyoming needs is just that…”a '60s and '70s hippie who has never grown up."
That would be a candidate who understands the worth of protecting the civil rights of all Americans. A “60s and '70s hippie who has never grown up” would recognize the unsustainable nature of our treatment of both the middle class and the natural environment. A “60s and '70s hippie who has never grown up" would remember the tragedy of Viet Nam, Watergate and the corrupt influence of money in politics, how little progress has been made in gender equality, the meaning of personal privacy and free press, and the importance of having visionary women and men on the US Supreme Court instead of doctrinaire placeholders whose only qualification is to pass partisan litmus tests.
Mr. Mueller called me “a liberal, even by Colorado standards.” What we have now are “conservatives by Washington standards.” What Wyoming has gotten out of its four-decade reliance on a one Party system is a Republican primary where the issue will be which of the two candidates is the most partisan and most divisive. Liz Cheney’s decision to put self above party and country will produce the most divisive political campaign in the state’s history. It will be “conservative” only by the standards of conservatism in Washington, standards becoming unrecognizable to Wyoming conservatives.
Wyoming Republicans opened the door to the Tea Party, the Liberty Group, the Constitution Party and WyWatch. They just didn’t close the door in time. They thought they were creating an “open tent.” Instead, they may have arranged their own lynching.
Alas, this aging hippie won’t be the one to walk through the door the GOP is opening for Democrats. I lost my primary around the kitchen table. Among those old enough to vote, i.e. my wife and adult children, the vote was 3-0 against tilting at the windmill. Those old enough to speak but not to vote, i.e. grandchildren Rhyland, Edythe and Penelope, said I should run.
I’m not breaking the tie. The voters had their chance to elect a young hippie to the Senate in 1982. They won’t get another opportunity. This “60s and '70s hippie” is now in his 60s, on his way to his 70s and enjoying life too much for that.