Rod Miller: “Tombstone”, “The Man of La Mancha” and Wyoming Political Theater

in Column/Rod Miller

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By Rod Miller, columnist

The Wyoming Legislature called itself into special session in order to try to fight off federal vaccination mandates and to protect us from communism and lizard people. And they convened the session on the 140th anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

For several days now, our legislators have myopically tilted against the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, just like Don Quixote at those pesky windmills. Egging them on is their faithful Sancho Panza, the frantic right wing of the Wyoming Republican Party.

And like the Clanton Gang, they twirl their pistols in a vacant lot near the OK Corral, and buck one another up about “inalienable rights” while the Earps saunter down Fremont Street, armed with scatterguns.

So far, this showdown has produced a hot mic F-Bomb or two, a Halloween costume that got noses out of joint, a citizen falsely accusing a legislator of man-handling her, and a plea that we all fast and pray in hopes of a positive outcome.

Political theater doesn’t get much better than this. And we’d better hope that it doesn’t. But as of this writing, the Legislature is still in session, so we might still see a car chase, a shootout or a gratuitous sex scene. Hang on to your popcorn.

What is going on in our capitol building is playing out all across the country. The carbon rods of civil procedure are being pulled out of the nuclear reactor of democracy and the damned thing is fixin’ to go critical. (I’ll fight off the urge to reference “Three Mile Island” here).

We find ourselves – intellectually and politically – back in 4th Century B.C. Athens, with a stable society under Pericles. Institutions of religion, government and social norms have brought stability out of a turbulent Greek past.

Then a dude by the name of Protagorus begins teaching a populist philosophy of relativism, attacking the notion of “self evident truth” and teaching that each individual is able to determine for themselves the nature of truth. That individual truth, derived from sensory experience and logic, often bore no resemblance to the common truth that had bound the Republic together.

Donald Trump is today’s Protagorus, and January 6th is the embodiment of his philosophy. When “self evident truth” disappears, plenty of room is made for The Big Lie.

Make no mistake, the drama playing out in Cheyenne is NOT being directed by the Legislature. They’re just mere actors. The Director is the far right wing of the Wyoming Republican Party and the Producer is Donald Trump.

And its not the legislative product, if any, of this session that citizens should be paying attention to. Legislation comes down the pike every couple of years, for good or ill. Rather we should examine how this session came about and what prompted the Legislature to call itself into session.

Is this movie about good governance, based upon logic and a common belief in our process of self-determination, or is it a pandering to illogical populist fear and a collective howling at the moon? Do the Producer and Director believe that by whining loudly enough, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution will suddenly evaporate?

This plot’s been around for 2500 years, and we’ve seen it before. But, this time its happening in our lifetime, and we are in the movie. And we’ll continue to be in the movie unless we take steps to prevent a sequel.

The steps we need to take to do that will piss off some really noisy and self-deluded people who take themselves very seriously. They’re waiting nervously for us down there at the OK Corral.


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