Rod Miller: Harvest Time in the Field of Yard Signs

in Column/Rod Miller

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Despite being the Dr. Kevorkian of gardening, I managed to raise a respectable crop of campaign yard signs in my front forty this year. It was a colorful crop, planted by folks of differing political persuasions that all flowered in the early autumn sun.

What all the signs had in common was that they represented politicians, incumbent and otherwise, whom I respect for reasons other than political dogma. They are my friends and neighbors, my fellow Wyoming citizens, who want to help.

Keep in mind that, in the Cowboy State, the word “neighbor” is a verb.

After a pretty calm early Fall, the Wyoming wind came up right before election day and transplanted a few of my signs somewhere downwind. Then along come the reaping of Second Tuesday, when the voice of the voters had the final say in the harvest.

Some of my folks won, and some lost. That is par for the course for anyone laboring in the uncertain soil of politics, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So its time to clear the field, stack the signs in the barn and leave the ground fallow for a couple of years. Until next time.

And its time to learn from this year’s election.

What struck me, on a national scale, was how the Republican Party embarrassed itself with all its big talk about a “Red Tsunami” and then ended up with a puddle scarcely big enough to dip their toes in. Voters around the country responded to this GOP hubris with a big yawn, and then voted how they damn well pleased.

This development points out a political fallacy widely held by both major parties. Both organizations operate under the wrong-headed notion that their responsibility is to lead the voters, instead of to represent them.

The GOP ended up with egg on its face because it planted its red MAGA flag and expected everyone to rally around it. They misread the will of the citizens and made themselves look like fools.

Its not up to the GOP to mold our minds to dovetail with their political ambitions. Its up to them, and to any political party, to understand the will of the citizens and to represent that will to the best of their ability.

We’re all grown-ups and can make up our own goddam minds, thank you very much.

I would respectfully offer the same advice to the Wyoming Democratic Party. The old coalitions that made the Democrats a political force in Wyoming are gone, and they ain’t coming back. The minority party in Wyoming will continue to diminish unless and until they can figure out a way to engage the elusive center in Wyoming politics.

Sure, the last decades have seen sea changes in how Wyomingites think about politics, and rank and file Democrats may not like these changes and wish that they could change minds in the 307. But again, that’s not their job.

As long as the Democrats try to cobble together a coalition of the marginalized to replace the leverage that labor unions gave them back in the day, they will continue to hemorrhage political power. Until the party of Herschler, Sullivan and Freudenthal can once again appeal to the center in Wyoming, then the hyphen D behind a candidates name will remain the kiss of death.

Neither the United States nor Wyoming is composed of political parties, but rather of people. And those folks often have a very different view in their hearts of what kind of government they want than do the organized patties. And its dangerous to try to talk them out of it.

American voters have an uncanny ability to surprise us, and we shouldn’t want it any other way.

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