By Jim Stanford on February 23, 2010
Maybe it’s the water in Cheyenne, or a surge of Republican testosterone.
But there’s something about the Wyoming legislative session that turns otherwise rational, reasonable men into a pack of chest-bumping bro’s trying to out-redneck each other.
This year the aggressive posturing has reached a near-absurd low. First, the governor moved to effectively squash wind power in Wyoming.
Then came a slew of bills railing against the federal government, stopping just short of secession. Five bills challenging federal authority have passed the House, including one that would further sanctify the Cowboy State’s central obsession: guns.
Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, talks of a “palpable anger” toward the federal government from Wyoming residents.
What are they so angry about?
Oh, yeah: We elected a black Democrat president.
Maybe they are just channeling some of this rage:
Several bills Wyoming lawmakers have been working on are resolutions calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution. Good luck with that, guys.
Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, calls the Legislature’s actions “disillusioning.” Even Gingery, who has received a flood of calls from gun nuts, is bewildered.
(Then again, Gingery co-sponsored a bill calling for repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives citizens the right to elect U.S. senators instead of state legislatures. That’s right: Keith wanted us to forfeit our power to elect senators and trust him to do it instead. Mercifully, the bill failed.)
Is Wyoming so angry that it is ready to give up its federal funding? Hah! As Sam Western writes in his de-mythologizing takedown Pushed Off the Mountain, the Cowboy State traditionally rails against the federal government while taking generous subsidies for ranching, mining and forestry, among other handouts.
Like many red states, Wyoming receives more tax dollars than it generates. As a friend recently suggested, perhaps New Jersey, which pays far more than its share, should be irate.
Because this is a budget session, and because these bills are a colossal waste of time, much of the anti-(Obama) government ranting is unlikely to go anywhere.
But in a state where bumper stickers snicker, “Pull the trigger on the nigger,” lawmakers ought to show courage by standing up to the crazies instead of caving to their demands.
• Follow the Legislature via Cowboy State Free Press