It is a curious obsession that keeps me tied to Wyoming, where I lived and worked for thirty-five years, and where my children and grandchildren still live.
There are many wonderful things about Wyoming: the trout-fishing on mountain streams, the clear night skies in the mountains when there are too many stars to count and the kindness and warmth of old friends.
There are also, however some things to not like about Wyoming these days. Chief amongst those unfortunate aspects of life in Wyoming is the fact that the loudest voices on Wyoming social media (including Facebook) are persons with extremist views and a low level of historical and political literacy.
These people have now taken over the Wyoming Republican Party and claim to represent the average Republican voter, when in fact they just represent angry anarchistic activism.
This kind of so-called Republican would make Eisenhower and Nixon ashamed.
They would make Eisenhower ashamed because he always put the nation’s welfare first and did not see government as the enemy, but rather as a vehicle for accomplishing worthwhile social goals like building the interstate highway system and integrating the military and schools.
Eisenhower had seen what really bad governments looked like in Europe, and he understood that an imperfect but essentially benign government like that of the United States was a force for good in the world.
He did not want to tear down the government. Likewise Nixon, despite his many personal failings, understood that the United States government had the power to do good in the world: to bring about peace between warring factions, to use government power to control inflation and to improve the lives of Americans.
The current crop of Wyoming culture warriors who emphasize guns, abortion, gender and race in their campaigns while name-calling “RINO” seem to be completely ignorant of real Republican presidents like these and like Reagan and even George W. Bush.
Instead, they idolize the habitually lying, boasting, bullying, preening narcissist and degenerate who preceded the current guy, and they thoughtlessly smirk, sneer and jeer at those who oppose them, often those who oppose them by speaking the truth.
To the current Wyoming Republican leadership truth is anathema. No reasonable adult, for instance, doubts that Trump and his allies deliberately tried to subvert the results of the last presidential election by a combination of fraud, trickery, subterfuge, force and violence.
That is why there was a riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and that is why all the stupid and unsuccessful lawsuits against the election results have failed.
The enemy of these people, the one who has drawn their vitriolic ire the most, is Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s lone representative to Congress.
She is routinely called a “RINO” on social media in Wyoming, when she is, in fact, an ideologically committed Republican and except for the fact that she is not slavishly obeisant to Trump, a loyal party functionary.
Many of her Wyoming critics do not understand that kissing Trump’s feet (or other parts) is not the equivalent of being a good Republican. Most of her Wyoming critics really don’t have any ideology, they are just angry. Additionally, for many of them “RINO” is the only epithet they can spell that won’t get them thrown off Facebook.
There are lots of things to not like about Liz Cheney, including her record of voting the party line so closely for most of her career.
But there is this to admire about her: when most Republican politicians either adopted the big lie that Trump had won the election, or slunk off and said nothing about that lie, Liz spoke up and called it what it was.
When Trump organized and deployed a seditious criminal riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Liz called it what it was and placed the blame where it belonged by voting for impeachment.
To judge from posts on Wyoming news pages on Facebook, truth-telling and historical and political literacy are in short supply among the loudest of Wyoming Republicans.
Liz should take some solace in the fact that although the loudest and emptiest of the Wyoming Republicans are often on Facebook, they are probably not the majority.
She should be proud also that truth telling is its own reward-it brings the reward of being able to hold one’s head up despite maintaining an unpopular position.
When the next volume of Profiles in Courage is published Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger will probably figure prominently in it. The current Wyoming Republican leadership and its degraded cheering section on social media, however, will recede into the obscurity they deserve.
Michael Krampner lived in Wyoming for 35 years and practiced law there during that time. Besides a law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law he also earned a Ph.D. in history from The University of Maryland. He currently lives in Jerusalem, Israel.