Rod Miller: Partisanship Is The Disease, Not The Cure

Rod Miller writes: “State Rep. Chris Knapp, a Republican from Gillette, says that Wyoming needs more partisanship in our public life, not less. That’s like your doctor telling you that you need more herpes in your body."

Rod Miller

April 20, 20234 min read

Rod miller headshot 10 4 22

State Rep. Chris Knapp, a Republican from Gillette, says that Wyoming needs more partisanship in our public life, not less.

That’s like your doctor telling you that you need more herpes in your body.

Knapp would do himself a huge favor by reading The Federalist Papers #10 and taking to heart the stark warning that James Madison offered to our new nation about the divisive effects that political parties. He called them “factions” introduced to our public life.

A quick look around at the rancorous partisan pissing matches that characterize partisan politics today should convince anyone that Madison was right on the button.

I’m sure the Campbell County Library has a copy of The Federalist Papers that Knapp can read, if that fine institution hasn’t been reduced by partisan politics to nothing more than a repository for books like “The Collected Wisdom of Marjorie Taylor Greene,” “The Bible According to Matt Gaetz” and Frank “Oral” Eathorne’s “Marriage Advice for Dummies.”

In Federalist 10, Madison acknowledged that factions inevitably arise in a body politic based upon passionately held belief among a subset, large or small, of the population. And because of political zeal and for political leverage, those factions (or parties) try to impose those beliefs on the rest of society.

He points out that, in a pluralistic society like ours, factions can’t be squashed like bugs or exiled from our presence without violating their liberties. But what our republic can and should do is understand the fractures and schisms that parties naturally promote and insulate ourselves from their most dangerous effects.

Knapp is advocating for virtually every aspect of our public life in Wyoming to be governed by the dogma and orthodoxy of political parties. And let’s be honest, he is talking about handing the reins of power to my party, the Wyoming GOP.

It sounds like Rep. Knapp would be happy to replace our Constitution with the Wyoming Republican Party Platform. We should have paid much closer attention to Madison’s warning.

The Wyoming GOP is the party that puts the fun in dysfunction, and our state would be very ill-served if its current populist brand of gnarliness held unmitigated sway throughout all of our public institutions. Hell, Eathorne’s party apparatus can’t even get counties to pony up their dues, and they seem incapable of conducting a state convention without headline-generating fistfights.

The Democrats are no better. They have relegated themselves to a mere afterthought in Wyoming politics by advocating for the marginalized “woke” policies of coastal elites. Their numbers tell their own story.

Neither party has the best interests of the state as a whole uppermost in mind. Both parties, as parties are known to do, are only interested in consolidating and increasing their own political influence in the Cowboy State. And the citizens be damned!

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll repeat myself: Wyoming would be smart to take concrete steps to REDUCE the influence of private political organizations like the GOP and the Democrats in our lives, not to give them more power over us.

If someone is convinced that consolidation of political power in one party is the way to go, I’d draw their attention to Europe just before World War II and to China immediately afterward. History itself cautions against such political single-mindedness.

Rep. Knapp’s wrongheaded notion should be considered alongside Madison’s prescient cautionary wisdom and taken for what it is – just one more example of a faction trying to acquire more power over the rest of us.

Share this article



Rod Miller

Political Columnist