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In Wyoming, Conservatives Feeling Left Behind

November 18, 2012

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — By now, voters here are over the initial shock. The ranchers, businessmen and farmers across this deep-red state who knew, just knew that Americans would never re-elect a liberal tax-and-spender president have grudgingly accepted the reality that voters did just that.

But since the election, a blanket of baffled worry has descended on conservatives here like early snow across the plains, deepening a sense that traditional, rural and overwhelmingly white states in the center of the country are losing touch with an increasingly diverse and urban American electorate.

“It’s a fundamental shift,” said Khale Lenhart, 27, a lawyer here. “It’s a mind-set change — that government is here to take care of me.”

The share of white voters — and white men, specifically — shrank in this election as turnout grew among blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, whose support for President Obama more than compensated for his losses among whites, exit polls showed. An analysis by the Pew Research Center found that minority voters had made up 28 percent of the electorate, up from 26 percent in 2008, a proportion expected to grow.

“Welcome to the next America,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president at Pew. “Whatever that vote looked like this year, four years from now it’ll be more so, and eight years from now it’ll be even more so.”

None of this ensures election wins for Democrats. The tide of minority voters that helped elect Mr. Obama in 2008 ebbed just two years later in a welter of populist anger over budget deficits, job losses and Mr. Obama’s agenda, allowing Republicans to retake the House and make gains in the Senate in the midterm elections. And there is no guarantee that the next Democratic presidential candidate will match Mr. Obama’s huge margins or turnout with minority voters.

Still, if diversity is the future of American politics, conservatives in places like Wyoming, the least populous state, where 86 percent of residents are white, fear they may be sliding into the past.

Republican explanations for Mitt Romney’s loss — that Democrats turned out the urban vote, that the United States is no longer its “traditional” self, or that Mr. Obama had showered “gifts” on women, minorities and young voters — resonated in some conservative political circles here in the state capital.

“It spooks me,” said James Yates, 46, a self-made businessman who owns 15 restaurants and employs about 1,000 people. “The young vote and certainly the minority vote went toward the perspective of ‘What can I get?’ Where the government runs everything, it’s completely not sustainable. They don’t see that.”

People said their worries about the next four more years had little to do with Mr. Obama’s race, or even Democratic policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and birth control. Wyoming’s conservatism has some strong libertarian hues. What worries conservatives here is that an increasingly diverse and Democratic polity will embrace health care mandates, higher domestic spending and a bigger government role in people’s economic lives.

Nobody ever expected Wyoming to support Mr. Obama; Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to win its three electoral votes, in 1964. In a year when voters nationally sent more Democrats to Congress, supported same-sex marriage measures and legalized marijuana in two states, voters here increased the already large Republican majority in the State House, maintained it in the State Senate and expressed their opposition to the president’s health care law.

Mr. Romney won his second-largest victory here, beating Mr. Obama 69 percent to 28 percent. Only Utah, with its large Mormon population, favored Mr. Romney by a wider margin.

by Anonymousreply 411/19/2012

One of Wyoming’s newly elected officials is M. Lee Hasenauer, who runs a tree-trimming service and just won a two-year seat as a Laramie County commissioner. His views, described as “pretty out there” by fellow conservatives in the state, are that Mr. Obama won through voter fraud, that the country is veering leftward toward fiscal ruin and that something fundamental is now different about American politics.

He was bewildered by the results on Election Day.

“I thought Romney was a shoo-in,” he said. “Something is way wrong. It may take a revolution to straighten out our government.”

His friend Bradley Harrington, who publishes a year-old conservative newspaper called Liberty’s Torch and is the host of a radio talk show in Cheyenne, said the election vindicated conservative politicians and commentators who talked about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax, about makers and takers.

“The parasites now outnumber the producers,” Mr. Harrington said. “That’s why Romney lost, and I think it’s going to get worse.”

Jeff Prince, 42, a financial adviser, invoked John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural question to describe what he saw as the difference between conservative, self-reliant Wyoming and liberal precincts along the coasts and in cities.

“They think, ‘What can he do for me?’ as opposed to what Kennedy said in the ‘60s, ‘What can I do for my country?’ ” Mr. Prince said.

That mentality of fierce independence is complicated by land and money. The government owns half the land in Wyoming, as national forest, parkland or other state land, and the natural resources here have long padded state coffers.

A 2011 study by the Pew States Project found that Wyoming received more federal funds per resident than any other state, largely because of royalties from mining and drilling. That $3,757 per person went to health care, transportation, education and other government programs.

But voters in Wyoming have little control in the management of those lands. Washington, they say, determines which lands are opened for drilling, the environmental reviews on oil drilling, whether wolves are a protected species or fair game for hunters. They see a portent in drilling plans proposed by the Interior Department that would close 1.6 million acres of federal land to oil-shale exploration.

Middle-aged white men here bristled at the notion that they were now the Republican Party’s last constituency. Look at Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, they said, or at Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico; Mia Love, a black Mormon mayor in Utah; or Lynn Hutchings, a newly elected black state representative. But they said Republicans would need to talk differently about immigration, reproductive issues and income inequality if they wanted to win over voters outside places like this one.

After all, as Buck Holmes, a county commissioner-elect here and self-described “sensible conservative” put it: “Not everyone thinks the same way as Wyoming conservatives do.”

by Anonymousreply 111/19/2012

Can we save Yellowstone and just bomb the rest of the state?

by Anonymousreply 211/19/2012

I started weeping as soon as I read the title of this thread.

by Anonymousreply 311/19/2012



We didn't win, and now we're gonna cry about it until we're dead!


Republicans have become the biggest crybabies in the history of fucking Earth. Fucking whining, complaining, crybabies.


by Anonymousreply 411/19/2012
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