Forget seceding from the United States, Wyoming could be kicked out of the United States when the rest of the country turns on the Cowboy State.
That’s the scenario that plays out in Wyoming native Dallas Jones’ new self-published book “WYONATION,” which speculates what would happen if Wyoming was forced out because it’s too sparsely populated.
Jones grew up in Casper and attended the University of Wyoming, but now lives in Colorado.
In the fictional political thriller, Jones presents a tale of Congress becoming taken over by a supermajority of Democrats who pass a new constitutional amendment creating a minimum population threshold for states in the U.S. Wyoming is the only state to not make the cutoff.
The book explores what would happen to Wyoming when it loses statehood.
But Jones said the book isn’t intended to be a conservative dystopia; rather, it aims to teach a lesson about what could happen to Wyoming if it moves too far from traditional energy production in favor of land conservation and also what can happen when either major political party gains too much power.
After initially considering writing a nonfiction story, Jones decided he would tell his story through fiction and give readers “a serious layout of a plausible scenario where this could happen, but also create a story with some relationships and some other items and other world events.”
After seeing coal production decline in recent years, Jones said he’s worried about what would happen to his home state.
“How much population loss could they endure and still be a state?” he asked himself. It was a question he didn’t have an answer for but aimed to address in his fictional plot.
Although Jones admits that population laws may be a little unrealistic, he points out that they could be implemented on some level as the U.S. would be unlikely to grant statehood these days to a region with fewer than 10,000 people.
The story centers around Grayson Woodley, a state employee who ends up serving as a lobbyist for Wyoming in its fight to retain statehood and in navigating the uncertain waters of what comes next.
After prodded by a curious foreign diplomat years later, Woodley tells the tale of Wyoming’s resistance, his associates, adversaries and an unlikely lover. The book’s promo also hints at an unexpected twist at the end.
After losing statehood, Wyoming becomes an enclave of the United States, which Woodley describes to a Chinese foreign dignitary as “part U.S. territory, part national park, and part aspects that are all its own.”
In addition to losing its statehood, limitations also are placed on the new “Wyonation” regarding what kind of mineral production it can pursue, its creation of methane gas from livestock production and any kind of agricultural production that requires irrigation.
A topic Jones said he particularly enjoyed exploring is what happens to Wyoming once it is no longer a state. A raging debate ensues between environmentalists, Native Americans, secessionists and the general population of Wyoming over what should happen next.
In the excerpt below, Woodley engages a conversation with a legislative opponent who wants to deprive Wyoming of its statehood.
“You can’t just wipe out a state. You need some rational reason. And you forget, lady, states are protected by the Constitution.
“Ah, but not for long, and we have a very good reason to act. In the land where the deer and the antelope play, you’ve got a big problem. You have too many cows and not enough cowboys.
“What are you talking about?
“People, Cowboy. I’m talking about people, and you don’t have enough of them.”
Still A Native
Although he now lives in a different state, Jones said he keeps up to date with Wyoming politics, which was part of his inspiration for writing the book.
His affinity for Wyoming grew stronger when he left the Cowboy State. After living three years in the Washington, D.C., area, Jones said he developed a new appreciation for Western and Wyoming culture.
“I feel very humbled to be able to speak about Wyoming,” he said.
Jones has also written another fiction book called “Meet The Boys Of Casper,” a coming-of-age tale from the 1970s featuring six Wyoming boys and an alien who watches them interact.
“WYONATION” came out in October and is available at bookstores in Casper, Sheridan and Thermopolis, and also can be bought on Amazon.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.