Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Me and Harvey the Progressive Donkey invite you to sit a spell here at hummingbirdminds

My pal, the Dem donkey
Life is strange for a progressive living in a Republican state.

I sometimes feel like the family's eccentric uncle.

Uncle Mike says the darndest things. The President was born in the U.S. and not Kenya? Next thing you know, he'll be saying that gay marriages should be recognized in Wyoming, or that women deserve equal pay for equal work. He did say that? That Uncle Mike... 

Ha, ha, ha. Maybe I am the eccentric uncle. Elwood P. Dowd talked to an invisible rabbit named Harvey and the powers-that-be in the play locked him up for it. Elwood didn't think it was strange. "Let me give you my card..." He was a nice man, too, quite happy with his P.O.V.

I have a bit of Elwood in me. I seem quite happy with my P.O.V. My invisible rabbit seems to be a donkey. As long as that donkey stays invisible, all is right in Republican-dominated Wyoming. But if I or any of my fellow Dems acknowledge the donkey, we're eccentric.

Felt a bit like that at the Recent SuperDay! event in Cheyenne. Some people seemed quite shocked that there was a group of Democrats will to be out in public bragging about their county party. And they had a cardboard cut-out of the "Made in the U.S.A." president! You know, that guy from Kenya. Thing is, we were having fun and promoting those causes that we believe in. Maybe we were awakening from the 2010 shellacking at the polls. It's possible that the openly mean-spirited Tea Party shenanigans at our State Legislature freed us to make public our presence and our beliefs. One young father pushing a stroller with his toddler aboard looked at me and my Laramie County Democrats with a sardonic smile. "I'm surprised you haven't been tarred and feathered." I thought it an odd thing to say, a throwback to a time when charlatans and mountebanks and Harold Hill and the Duke and the King in Huck's tale were tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. The young father said that he was kidding but he didn't take one of my pretty brochures.

It's odd, isn't it, to live in a state where just having a "Proud Wyoming Democrat" bumper sticker on your bright red Ford is a radical act.

At public gatherings, people assume that you are a Republican. They will say the darndest things believing that you think the exact same way that they do. I used to let those things slide, but don't anymore.

Maybe I would if I was a business owner in Cheyenne. I've had more than one Democrat tell me that they keep their Liberal leanings secret so as not to alienate potential clients and customers. I don't blame them. If I owned a little bistro, I wouldn't put an "Obama in 2012" in my front window. You might find new customers that way, but it probably is not a great marketing strategy in a state where registered Democrats are outnumbered more than 2-to-1 and many of those Democrats are moderate or even conservative on some issues and might have voted for Obama but don't brag about it.

The other day, a legislative lobbyist who is a Democrat said that he dare not say anything negative about Rep. Cynthia Lummis or Lummis will hear about it through the Republican grapevine and never, ever do anything for the lobbyist's clients on the national level. Ditto for Dr. Sen. John Barrasso. That's probably predictable in a legislature that has 76 Republicans and 14 Dems. Our entire U.S. Congressional delegation is Republican. All our state electeds are Republicans. That's one extensive grapevine. No wonder progressive lobbyists have to be discreet. But in the end, does anyone in Wyoming expect Rep. Lummis to ever do anything in Washington, D.C., for any progressive cause?

When I arrived in Wyoming 20 years ago, moving from a state that is more purple that blue or red (Colorado), I was shocked to hear Democrats say that they register as Republicans so that they can vote in primaries that matter. I thought that was absurd. I acknowledged that I would never register as a Republican. There was that time that I registered as an Independent, a move that was totally pointless. And I have since learned that Wyoming voters can switch party registration on the day of the primaries and switch back on their way out the door. That happened frequently in the 2010 primaries, when hordes of Dems switched to "R" to vote for Matt Mead against Tea Party fave Ron Micheli. Not surprising that one of the items on the Republicans' legislative agenda this year was to change this user-friendly polling registration system. Now we're seeing a national effort by Republicans to make registering and voting as difficult as possible.

Me and Harvey the Democratic Donkey invite you to linger a bit here at hummingbirdminds and we'll chat. You say you'd rather yell than chat? Guess that's O.K., but Harvey has big ears and sensitive ones. He's big too, really big for a donkey. And he knows karate. Did I mention that he has a blog?

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