Manderson As we moved the Silver Bullet from Rock Creek, Montana, fifty miles from Missoula to Manderson, Wyoming, on the backside of the Big Horn Mountains between Greybull and Worland in the central part of the state, we would kid our friends and comrades of seven summers along the creek that we were no longer Montana people, but were now “Wyoming people” again. I was born in Laramie, so I was OK with that. Our family has camped and driven all over the state over the years many times in the Big Horns, the Wind River Mountains, the Snowy Range, along the Bridger and Oregon Trails, outside of Rock Springs in the nooks and corners, and of course in Yellowstone in their camping ghettos. Nonetheless, moving from deep blue Missoula to dark red central Wyoming got us more than a few nods of sympathy.
Wyoming is way more than Dick Cheney though. There is a resistance of long standing no matter how embattled. I recently read two books as I prepared to come back to the Airstream with most of my family, one was Pushed Down the Mountain, Sold Down the River by Samuel Western and the other was Behind the Carbon Curtain by Jeffrey Lockwood. Both books eviscerated the contradictions in the political life of the state that genuflected to the myth of the ranch hands and cowboys and allowed energy companies one break after another with marginal to nonexistent benefits to the people. In short, Wyoming is not being surrendered without a fight.
Reading the editorial in the local newspaper in Casper as we drove up from Denver was also a good notice to one and all that nothing should be taken for granted even in the White House about politics as deeply read as Wyoming. They were slamming Trump and his zero-tolerance policy and child incarceration system in no uncertain terms and offering no quarter. See what I mean?
We stopped at a Walmart to get a tent mattress on the way. Looking at the long line at the checkout counter, I thought I might switch. The cashier looked like a Normal Rockwell or Hollywood casting director’s class version of a grandmother a bit plumb with snow white hair. Looking at all of the other cashiers in line after line, it was obvious that not a one of them would ever see 65 again and most had looked the other way as 70 had passed them by. A senior shuffled by our car and patted our purchase with a smile and comment about “good camping.” His gate was clipped and measured and Social Security clearly knew his account number.
Maybe they were all working because labor is in short supply in Wyoming, and if that is the case, that will have political consequences as well, but maybe as conservatives try to gut the safety net and entitlements they ought to visit Wyoming and talk to some of these workers, because they are not going to be voting for anyone forcing them to wear a smiley-face vest for Walmart.
Please enjoy Black Pumas’ Black Moon Raising