By Rod Miller, guest columnist
Very recently there occurred a dust-up between Joey Correnti IV, an official with the Carbon County Republican Party, and the Laramie County Clerk. Correnti took the County Clerk to task for a clerical mistake in the Clerk’s office that left out a couple of names on the ballot for GOP precinct committee positions in Laramie County.
Doesn’t seem like too big a deal, until you ask yourself the question, “why is a public official doing clerical work for a private organization?” The Laramie County Clerk IS a public official, and the Republican Party IS a private organization.
While our Wyoming Constitution doesn’t mention political parties, and our statutes didn’t create them, the major parties do enjoy a lot of benefits granted under Wyoming Statutes Title 22, Chapter 4. These statutes weave party politics tightly into the fabric of our civic like and, like that gnarly outlaw in the western movie, might have outlived their usefulness.
The acid test of any law is whether or not it is good for the state, and that is a question that should be asked often. Its time to ask whether having private organizations so tightly enmeshed in our public elections is a good idea.
Political parties should have a very limited role in our civic life but, as Madison warned, they by their very nature seek to aggrandize themselves. Think about it! When was the last time that the Democrats built a school or the Republicans fixed potholes?
People who identify with either party did that work, but the parties themselves remained pretty useless. And schools don’t give a rat’s ass who builds ‘em, and potholes are apolitical.
Partisan political organizations are no more public entities than the Elks Club or the Hells’s Angels. And yet, by statute, the State of Wyoming is responsible for conducting their elections, and directs the parties how to choose leadership, where and when to meet and how to communicate.
The State of Wyoming grants to the bylaws of the major political parties a legal status, even though the Wyoming Legislature does not draft those bylaws. That’s why someone like Joey the 4th feels justified in hollering at a County Clerk when things don’t go his way.
Its gotta be so annoying for a political party in Wyoming, to have the state’s nose all up in your business like that. The parties should go together and hire a bunch of smart lawyers to get ‘em out of this nonsensical situation.
But I think the parties enjoy this cozy relationship with the state. They are protected, and they have a daddy to whine to when they skin their knee.
If they had the cojones the political parties in Wyoming have all the stroke they need to repeal every statute that puts the state in the position of interfering in their business. They have within their respective organizations the means to conduct their own internal elections without bureaucratic monkeying around. Nothing is preventing that other than political will within the parties.
The savings to the state and counties would be considerable, as well. What better place to cut government spending than in something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
A not-inconsiderable side benefit would be the time and effort that our pubic officials could dedicate to the real work of our state when they aren’t expected to hand-hold and coddle party officials with their knickers in a twist.