The View From Wyoming
Kind of an interesting article in today’s NYT about how conservative folks in Wyoming, the country’s least populated state, are reacting to the election results. Along with many other conservatives, they appear surprised Obama won.
Some choice quotes:
‘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.’
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.
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.
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.