Jimmy Orr: Bipartisanship And Civility is Happening in the Reddest State in the Nation

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

People often talk about the good old days when bipartisanship and civility were alive and well.

Of course, we romanticize things in the past. We talk about the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil being on opposite sides of the fence but having a mutual respect for each other.

Although true, there are plenty examples in our nation’s history where civility was not the order of the day — and many opine that what’s happening today is no different than it has ever been.

Regardless, bipartisanship and civility are happing here in Wyoming. You might have to look around for it but it’s there.

Take a look at Republican state Rep. Bill Haley’s endorsement of Democrat Rep. Stan Blake on Monday morning.

“I’m proud to support Stan Blake for re-election. He’s done a lot for wildlife conservation, hunting, and keeping public lands in public hands,” Haley said on a video he posted to Facebook Monday morning. 

“Please support Stan. He is a good man and deserves your vote,” he said.

We’ve seen other displays of it as well.

Last week, Democrat Rep. Sara Burlingame and Republican Rep. Tyler Lindholm posted two humorous videos where they highlighted their differences while highlighting their friendship.

In one video, Lindholm is shown in Burlingame’s kitchen extolling the virtues of Libertarianism and Ayn Rand to Burlingame’s son.

Lindholm asked Emerson Burlingame if he has ever heard of Ron Paul, the former Libertarian congressman from Texas who is also Sen. Rand Paul’s father.

“It’s just like ‘Who is John Galt?’ except better because he’s real,” Lindholm said of the character in Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged”.

“Who is John Galt?” the younger Burlingame asked Lindholm.

Cracking a wry smile, Lindholm said they would talk about it sometime when his mom wasn’t around.

“That’s ok. Everyone should go through their Ayn Rand phase but you should grow out of it by the time you are an adult,” Mom Burlingame said.

In an earlier video titled ‘Capitol Showdown’, the two are shown outside the State Capitol lightheartedly arguing over everything from the type of licorice they prefer to what BLM really means (Bureau of Land Management or Black Lives Matter) to favorite food.

The civility they show each other isn’t anything new. They’ve been friends despite disagreeing on nearly everything.

On a Zoom call on Saturday, they discussed the videos and why they did them.

“People have a lot of anxiety about how divided we are,” Burlingame said. “And if you can model for people that you genuinely do not have to agree with each other to still be friends, that’s important.

“I know he loves Wyoming and I would never doubt that,” she said.

Lindholm agreed. He said just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have to hate them.

“I don’t agree with Sara hardly ever because she’s crazy, but I don’t hate her. I like her. She’s a fun person to be around. She’s just wrong,” he said laughing.

The reaction to the videos has been mostly good, Lindholm said.

“There have been some Republicans who have bitched about them but most find them for what they are intended to be — fun,” he said.

He said he was surprised that a few looked at it negatively.

“It was not like I was endorsing her or she was endorsing me or I had somehow switched to Biden or anything,” he said.  “It was a fun video about friends who can disagree politically but can still find time to enjoy each other’s company.”

It’s not just happening on the state level either. Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, an overwhelming favorite to be the new U.S. senator from Wyoming, is also known for being civil with political adversaries.

“Even Ed Markey, who is just an extremely liberal member of the Senate, he and I found one sliver of one issue that we worked on together in the time I was in the House,” Lummis told the Casper Star-Tribune. “You’re talking about one of the most liberal members of the House, Ed Markey, and clearly one of the most conservative, me. If he and I can find agreement, on an issue, I can find an agreement with almost anybody.”

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Jimmy Orr is a Wyoming native who is a former spokesman for the White House, directed digital strategy for President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and was the Managing Editor, Digital, for the Los Angeles Times.

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