Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Laramie County Democrats meet to ponder the 2011 legislative session -- and plan for the future

Full house tonight for the monthly meeting of the Laramie County Democrats. We meet on the last Monday of each month at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union hall in sight of Frontier Refinery. We had to wait awhile for another meeting to adjourn, this one of the refinery's union members. But we didn't mind -- lots of catching up to do with fellow Dems. And time to meet some new people.

One note on unions -- Wyoming is a so-called "Right to Work" state. Another one of those Republicanisms. "Right to Work" means that the corporations tell you if you have the right to work in this state. And what wages they deign to give you. We know from events in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan that the Republican Party's primary agenda is to kill unions so that they can tell everyone where, when and how they have the right to work. They want all of us to make the same wages as a factory worker in Indonesia. When we all get paid 15 cents an hour, the conglomerates will move all the jobs back to the U.S.A. And they shall be proclaimed heroes.

Why were people gathered tonight? We are angry. We are shocked that the highs of 2008 have been replaced by the ultra-lows of 2011. The national scene has gone loco. Governors elected with less that 50 percent of the vote are outlawing unions, stripping tenure from your children's teachers, privatizing crucial government services, banning foods stamps to union families during strikes, bringing murder charges against women who get abortions, etc. And that's just some of the crazy laws that have been proposed -- and adopted -- around the U.S.

Wyoming had its share of right-wing crazies in the legislature. We were able to avoid electing a right-wing crazy as Governor -- Ron Micheli of Uinta County -- and did end up with a moderate, Matt Mead. Gov. Mead seemed upset at some of his party's legislative antics, but he also has spouted some of the same anti-Obamacare rhetoric that you see at Tea Party rallies.

What can Dems do when they are only 14 out of 90 legislators?

"We decided to go on defense," said Rep. Jim Byrd at tonight's meeting. "We could tell that the crazies were at the gates."

The crazies are almost too numerous to mention. So were their crazy bills. Even before the session ended, the Casper Star-Tribune summed it up as a total waste of time. A number of the time-wasting Republicans are from Natrona County. Kroeker, Brechtel, Gay. Something nasty in that water up there.

No so-called social issue bills were passed by this legislature. It wasn't for lack of trying. But it wasn't just the Dems who blunted the onslaught. Rep. Ken Esquibel said the House Republicans got split among its factions. Rep. Byrd: "There is a moderate Republican component. We need to support them."

These Repubs have been labeled RINOs (Republican in Name Only) by right-wingers disappointed that the social issue bills didn't pass. At least one letter to the ed in the CST has called for a concerted effort to defeat the RINOs and replace them with more right-thinking members. You will recall that Republican Cale Case publicly opposed the anti-gay marriage bill and Sue Wallis opposed the abortion notification bill. There were others.

But the main thing is to elect more Democrats. That's the goal for 2012. We'll start with Laramie County. You say it can't be done? Well, 3,800 new Democrats registered to vote in 2008. Many of them actually voted. In 2010, they either stayed home or voted Republican. The votes are out there...

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