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July 31, 2014 7:11 am

AMEND CORNER: Watch out for insidious forces

Written by Don Amend

This week is going to end with a bang down in south Big Horn County.

That’s because rock star Ted Nugent will be visiting Emblem on Saturday, at the invitation of the local TEA Party. He’ll be blowing in about noon and plans to speak for an hour or so, according to an interview I read a few weeks ago.

Nugent is, for those of you who aren’t up on your rock stars, not only a musician, but a hunter and fisherman, a gun enthusiast and, as should be obvious from who invited him, an extremely conservative guy. He is no doubt coming to Wyoming to fire up the ultra-conservative anti-government crowd with one of his speeches, which tend to be fiery rants against anything that remotely smacks of liberalism. In one of his speeches just before the last election, for example, he claimed that if President Obama were re-elected, he (Nugent, not Obama) would be dead within a year. The president apparently didn’t get the memo, because Nugent is still alive and ranting.

When he was interviewed by a another Wyoming newspaper, he said he likes Wyoming’s independence and lifestyle, but he’s afraid “insidious forces against those qualities of America have moved into Wyoming much like they did throughout the ’70s and ’80s into Colorado, turning that once-great state into a suburb of San Francisco.”

I guess that means he’s coming to Wyoming to save us from those insidious forces.

Well, I appreciate Nugent’s concern for Wyoming, but I think he’s a bit off the mark if he thinks Wyoming is about to turn into some sort of under-populated California. I think it’s safe to say that, if anything, Wyoming is becoming more conservative. Not less.

Our electoral history provides ample proof of that. Newcomers to our state, as well as veteran Wyomingites with short memories, are used to seeing a Wyoming congressional delegation that’s entirely Republican, but it hasn’t always been that way. But prior to the mid-1980s, we nearly always had a mixed delegation. When I started voting back in the ’60s, we were represented in Washington by two Democrats and one Republican, and one of them, Teno Roncalio, was a genuine New Deal liberal and labor union supporter. He served us for five terms.

Back in the early ’50s, our Democratic senator was Lester Hunt, who authored a national health insurance plan. It didn’t pass, but when Medicaid was created during the days of the Great Society, it was very similar to Hunt’s proposal.

On the state level, Democrats have often held one or more of our five elected executive offices. Democrats held all five positions from 1935-39, and as recently as the late ’80s, Gov. Mike Sullivan, Secretary of State Kathy Karpan and Superintendent of Public Instruction Lynn Simons, all Democrats, outnumbered Stan Smith and Jack Sidi, a pair of Republicans who served as treasurer and auditor, respectively. In the 1990 election, the Republicans won three of the positions to take back control, but two of those Republicans were pretty liberal.

The Democratic presence in the Wyoming Legislature hasn’t always been as anemic as it is now. Even Park County has sent Democrats to Cheyenne in the past. For four years back in the ’70s, the Republican advantage in the House of Representatives was only three votes, 32-29, and in 1975-76, the parties in the Wyoming Senate were dead even, 15 members from each party.

Now, granted, Republicans have, despite all those Democratic officeholders, run the state, and most of the time, but not always, they have run it well. But those Democrats, some of them pretty liberal, have played a role in our history as well, and they have also made positive contributions to the state. Contrary to the rhetoric of the radicals, they certainly haven’t turned us into a suburb of San Francisco, or even Colorado.

That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t some insidious forces moving into Wyoming and trying to change us. There are newcomers to Wyoming who have brought their prejudices and biases with them and are trying to remake our state to suit them. They are selling the nonsensical notion that Wyoming natives and other longtime residents who know Wyoming well and have made positive contributions to the state are not in tune with Wyoming’s values and people and should be replaced with individuals who bring nothing to the office but pure ideology. They want us to be as narrow minded and intolerant as they are and are working hard to take control of our state so they can push their agenda.

This week, they are bringing a celebrity named Ted Nugent to Wyoming in pursuit of their objectives, and unfortunately, there are Wyomingites who believe what he says.

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