Monday, October 17, 2011

Wyoming Democratic Party: Dead, or just near death

I have been a member of the Laramie County Democrats since 2004. I've served as secretary and even spent a few trying weeks rewriting the county party's bylaws. I've been to many boring meetings and a few scintillating ones. I've leafletted neighborhoods and waved signs on icy street corners. I've been the precinct guy at the polls. I've represented Laramie County at two state conventions.

It's a pretty good track record. During that time, I have worked for some winning legislative candidates: Lori Millin, Mary Throne, Jim Byrd. I helped Dave Freudenthal win a second term in 2006. We almost claimed Wyoming's lone U.S. House seat for Gary Trauner -- think how much better off we'd be if he had been the one to replace the inept Barbara Cubin. We're now stuck with Cynthia Lummis, one of the 1% (11-richest member of Congress).

The committed few are getting tired and older, just like the state of Wyoming, which has one of the oldest populations in the USA. The party is tired and needs new blood. Money, too, of course. It also needs to fight back against an ingrained Republican Party that's really feeling its oats now that the Tea Party controls its legislative agenda. The 2011 legislative sessions was no picnic. The upcoming session would be worse if it wasn't a budget session. There will be some crazymaking right-wing bills proposed, but not as many as time will be a factor. But those same crazies that gave you The Legislative Nightmare of 2011 will be back in 2013 (most of them). They are out to push women's reproductive rights back into the Stone Age, demonize gays and lesbians, bash teachers, take away your voting rights, water down environmental regulations, eliminate job protections and slash retirement benefits for state workers, and so on.

It seems like a no-brainer. Go vote, people. But Dems don't show up at the polls in large numbers unless there is something very big at stake. We had the exciting Barack Obama and Gary Trauner running in 2008. That might do it in 2012. But the state party has to step up to the plate to recruit and train candidates. Our leaders have to go toe-to-toe with the Republicans on every issue.

There is now another factor at play. Our young people are showing up in the streets at Occupy-style rallies, such as the ones held in Cheyenne, Casper, Jackson and (yes) Pinedale this past weekend. These are just some of the in-state rallies sparked by Occupy Wall Street. These rallies are happening all over the globe. There were some old hands at Occupy Cheyenne on Saturday. But they were outnumbered by people in their 20s and 30s. It's been a long time since I've seen that.

The Occupiers are not going away. They are young and they are pissed, at both Republicans and Democrats. They are angry at me. Not personally, maybe, but at what I represent -- the Baby Boomer cohort which has not left this country a better place for our children and grandchildren. They have no jobs and huge student loan payments. Moreover, the weight from the top 1% is crushing them and their dreams. Most people my age are in the 99%, and we share the views of the younger Occupiers. But we are also symbols of the wretched excess of the 1980s and 1990s that mortgaged their future.

Something to think about as you read the following fund-raising letter from Chuck Herz, chair of the WY Democratic Party. To be fair, Chuck has spoken out loudly against some of the worst transgressions of WY Republicans. He knows that there are more voices like his that need to be heard. But the Dems need much more than fund-raising pleas. They need reasons to respond to them.

The newspapers are already declaring our time of death.  Last week the Wyoming Tribune Eagle even published an obituary for Wyoming Democrats.

It might sell newspapers, but we know Wyoming Democrats are far from dead. 

Show them that we're alive by pledging your support today.

The Republicans are spending their time abusing stimulus funds and keeping unemployment benefits from out-of-work Wyomingites.  We're hitting the pavement and recruiting candidates across the state to change business as usual in Wyoming.

Contribute today and show we're fighting back!

In states across the country Republicans are making it tougher, even impossible, for Americans to cast their votes; we saw this in Wyoming on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Wyoming Democrats are fighting to make sure every vote gets counted and respected.

Pledge today and strengthen the Democratic Party in your community!

I know I'm not dead and I know you're not either. 

Democratically, Chuck

Chuck Herz
Chair, Wyoming Democratic Party

PS: We are stronger when we stand together.  Stand with Democrats across Wyoming by contributing today.


MSmith said...


Democrats don’t need to look far for like minded liberals in Wyoming. Many are registered as Republicans.

If the Democratic Party would like them to rejoin their Party you might consider encouraging the Republican Party leadership and members to hold their representatives and candidates accountable to the Republican platform.

Salt & Light Perspective

Michael Shay said...

You must be talking about those creatures called RINOs. I understand your frustration with them. They spared the state from looking completely foolish during the 2011 legislative session. They stopped the anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-teacher, anti-brown-people agenda promulgated by the right-wing crazy wing of your party. We're fortunate that the RINOs -- with a little help from our Dems -- got in the way of your extremist agenda. Amen, brother.

Anonymous said...

The Democratic Party in Wyoming near death is Great News for myself. When the Democratic Party embraced the Radical Far Left agenda then I left the Democratic Party wanting nothing to do with them for I am NOT a Socialist!!! If the Democratic Party wants a comeback in Wyoming then they have to pull their heads out of the sand and leave their Radical Far Left Agenda behind Go Tea Party!

Michael Shay said...

I would have more respect for your POV is you supplied your name with your comment. And I have no idea what you mean by "Radical Far Left Agenda." Sounds like a Fox "News" talking point. Go Tea Party? Have you been to a Tea Party rally? I have, many times. In the beginning, the Tea Party claimed righteous indignation along with a smattering of racism and cruelty. Now it's been co-opted by the Koch Brothers Tea Party Express and lacks all credibility. Join us for substance and stories and righteous indignation at Occupy Cheyenne each Saturday at noon at the Depot Plaza.