Rod Miller: “Honor Wyoming” Dishonors Everything About Wyoming

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "These Honor Wyoming videos weren’t produced in Wyoming by Wyomingites, and their message is more Hollywood than Hot Springs County. And the folks behind this snake oil show won’t stand up on their hind legs and claim responsibility for their work."

Rod Miller

May 21, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, is credited with being the founder of the modern public relations industry. Fittingly, Bernays’ most famous book is titled “Propaganda," written on the eve of the Great Depression. 

Bernays’ theories on social engineering and psychological manipulation were adopted and honed by everyone from Madison Avenue advertisers to modern day political spin doctors and, try as we might, we cannot escape their influence in today’s America.

So, it's important to understand these concepts and how they are intended to affect us.

Bernays’ ideas on propaganda and public relations can be summed up with this quote: “The masses are driven by factors outside their conscious understanding, and therefore their minds can and should be manipulated by the capable few.”

Obviously, the murky and anonymous operatives behind the “Honor Wyoming” media blitz have well-thumbed copies of Bernays’ book on their nightstands. 

One glance at their YouTube videos or their billboards should be plenty to convince you of that fact. 

These glitzy, glossy videos use every Western image, trope and cowboy stereotype imaginable to tug at our Wyoming heartstrings. This crafty manipulation of beloved images is a tried-and-true tactic of both propaganda and advertising.

Rugged, lantern-jawed cowboys ride across the screen to tell us not to trust any Wyoming legislator who doesn’t tow the “Honor Wyoming” line … whatever that line may be.

Panoramic shots of the verdant Wyoming landscape during a spring sunrise caress the eye and send a subtle message to the brain that, if we all don’t fall in line behind “Honor Wyoming," we’ll never see a Wyoming dawn again.

A gravelly Sam Elliot-type voice quotes the Code of the West (as interpreted by “Honor Wyoming," of course) with the sotto-voce warning that doom awaits us all if we don’t cowboy up and get rid of anyone whose eyes don’t glisten at this patriotic message.

All that’s missing is John Wayne rising from the grave in a red MAGA Stetson, pulling Rush Limbaugh up with him and telling us all, “Shape up, pilgrims!”

The effect on our subconscious is subtle and subliminal, just as Bernays intended. We oooh and ahhh at the images, not realizing that we are being manipulated. 

The real kicker is that these videos weren’t produced in Wyoming by Wyomingites, and their message is more Hollywood than Hot Springs County. 

And the folks behind this snake oil show won’t stand up on their hind legs and claim responsibility for their work. They prefer to hide behind a very un-cowboy veil of anonymity.

They use out-of-state money as a pry bar to move Wyoming citizens. And, from their comfy offices in California, they violate half the articles in the Code of the West.

The anonymous nature of this cynical attack on our heritage will be defended by the Wyoming Freedom Caucus and their ilk, just as they’ve defended anonymous voting sites like WyoRino. Laughably, they equated these sites with “Publius," author(s) of the Federalist Papers.

To mention Madison, Hamilton and Jay in the same breath as WyoRino is an affront to the intellect, but that has never stopped the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.

The Freedom Caucus is hellbent on inflicting blunt trauma wounds on our body politic. They would make Bernays proud at how they’ve mastered the art of manipulation and deceit. 

The Freedom Caucus has raised the un-cowboy tactic of bullying to an art form, and then they whine like petulant toddlers when they are criticized. 

They embrace gnarly, dishonest faux-populist propaganda like that espoused by “Honor Wyoming” at the expense of the dignity of the Cowboy State.

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus is a cabal of grifting snake oil salesmen of the lowest order. They are pawns of out-of-state political operatives who are the real threats to our way of life.

And I’m here to testify that there is a negative side to the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, too.

Rod Miller can be reached at

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist