Monday, February 18, 2013

Paul Krza remembers Rock Springs as an "island of Democrats"

Good to see Paul Krza return to the op-ed pages. I used to love reading his rabble-rousing columns when he lived and worked in Wyoming. A good progressive voice in a sea of conservatives. He grew up in Rock Springs, a one-time "island of Democrats" due to its population of unionized coal miners and railroaders. That island has shrunk as union membership dropped over the years in this so-called "Right to Work" state.

In Sunday's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Krza wrote about how his own Sweetwater County collectivist roots were vindicated by President Obama's inaugural speech in which he stressed that "working collectively is the new political normal -- solving our problems 'together'."

Krza wrote about how his Slovene ancestors worked together to form a fraternal lodge, the Slovenski Dom, where the Socialist Party met and where members could buy health and life insurance. The lodge library was stocked with socialist tracts. Teno Roncalio, the last Democrat to represent Wyoming in the U.S. House, campaigned there. Meanwhile, says Krza, the Rock Springs schools were "an ethnic mishmash that nurtured open-mindedness and my own willingness to ask questions."

As we gaze upon the strange proceedings of our State Legislature, in which even the Sweetwater County delegation is rife with Republicans, one has to wonder what happened to Wyoming Left-leaning traditions. Gone with the wind....

Paul Krza is syndicated by Writers on the Range. Read his latest column, "When frontier socialism thrived in Wyoming."

No comments: