Rod Miller: Politics Around the Ol’ Wyoming Campfire

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Chatter around the ol’ campfire devolved into hoots and hollers as each cowboy sang the praises of his own favorite candidate and called everyone else a bunch o’ damn RINOs. The campfire vocabulary was reduced to one and two-syllable words, and finally to grunts, growls and chest thumps."

RM
Rod Miller

October 08, 20234 min read

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We were nightherdin’ the dogies a couple days out of Cheyenne. Seems like every time the crew gets close to that cowtown, the chatter around the ol’ campfire turns to politics.

But the Kaycee Kid wasn’t ready for that kind of drama yet. “We ain’t even got the herd to the railhead yet. Its waaaay too early fer political nonsense. Besides, when we get to town, we have some serious drinkin’ an’ carousin’ to do.”

Buckskin Bob piped up, “Criminently, a candidate cain’t even file fer office ‘til after the first of the year. We’re wastin’ our breath if we’re discussing anything but dancehall girls in October.”

Cookie stopped stirring beans long enough to fix his cold-chisel gaze on the campfire circle and quoted a few verses from Genesis. Then he asked, “When did Noah start buildin’ that ark?” 

A ring of bloodshot eyeballs stared back at him through the smoke, eyeballs that contained nothing more than visions of whiskey and petticoats. And confusion.

“Whaa….???” came the cowboy chorus.

“Noah built his boat BEFORE it started raining, you idjits. Its never too early to talk politics. ‘Specially here in the Big Empty.” 

“Cookie’s right” Rimrock said. “I read in Cowboy State Daily just t’other day that Chuck Gray an’ Curt Meier got into a spittin’ match during a meeting, hollerin’ an’ callin’ each other tinhorns. I’d bet they’re both jockeyin’ to be governor. Hell, looks like its startin’ to rain already.”

“Yeah, an’ Governor Gordon is Herschlered, he cain’t run for another term.” This from the trail boss who is smarter’n a busload o’ county agents. “Mark my words, there’ll be a passel more of ‘em droolin’ to be governor before its all said an’ done.”

“Chip Neiman, he’ll run,” said Latigo Louie from Lander. “He’s got them whatchacallit 'visions of grandeur.' An’ he’ll have the support of the Park County Republican Men’s Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club. Hell, that’s 11 votes right there. Almost a landslide!”

“Don’t forget Harriet Hageman.” said Bronco Henry, “My Freedom Caucus uncle says she’s tired o’ the D.C. swamp an’ wants to come back to Wyoming and be governor so she can singlehandedly preside over the re-birth of our moribund turquoise industry.”

Chatter around the ol’ campfire devolved into hoots and hollers as each cowboy sang the praises of his own favorite candidate and called everyone else a bunch o’ damn RINOs. The campfire vocabulary was reduced to one and two-syllable words, and finally to grunts, growls and chest thumps. Yep, its started raining already.

“Wait!”, came a faint voice from the shadows, “Them’s all Republicans. What about the Democrats?”

The trailboss scratched his stubbly chin and said, “I calculate that the Democrats’ll have to shanghai a candidate again. They’re scarce as sheepherders in Wyoming these days, an’ they’ll have to arm-twist a candidate into running for governor. Maybe draw a name from a hat an’ put ‘em on the ballot to get an education in politics.”

The campfire had started to fizzle our and all this political talk had the crew near to exhaustion. They yawned and stretched and straggled off toward their bedrolls, trying to clear their heads of the disturbing visions of gubernatorial politics. 

They all tried to re-acquire those tempting visions of rotgut whiskey and friendly gals waiting for them in Cheyenne. They all wanted to dream about debauchery, not politics. They almost succeeded too.

That is, until Cookie wished them all a goodnight, and crooned to them a verse or two from that beloved ol’ trail song, “Before It Starts Raining.”

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist