Sheridan County GOP Chairman Bryan Miller (right) speaks with Laramie County GOP Chairwoman Dani Olsen (in red) during the convention debate over whether to seat her county's delegates in Sheridan on May 7, 2022. (Maggie Mullen/WyoFile)

Opinion

Recent events mark another episode in the saga that is plaguing the Grand Old Party of Wyoming. The once powerful and successful political organization that we were proud to call our own has steadily declined to a state of disfunction and dereliction. For several years now the party has struggled with an incredible amount of infighting, self-degeneration and vociferous interactions that have created a party devoid of the ability to function at a basic level. With two of our most populous counties unable to participate in our state convention, it can be portended that our future is becoming yet more grim. 

The trajectory our party is on will inevitably be the fall of the Republican Party in Wyoming if we do not work to change ourselves and become what Wyoming is truly capable of. The time has come to address and fix our failings and to engage our future to stop this downward spiral that we are on.

As the age of the party’s members increases, there is a great need to work on a new generation of Republicans who will bring the party into the future. The problem though is that younger generations have little desire to associate with the party. 

Younger people who bring energy, new ideas and different perspectives help enhance and promote the work, experiences and knowledge of our more “distinguished” generations. Yet as a party we continue to extirpate any possibility of them joining the organization. We take up arbitrary causes that have nothing to do with life in Wyoming and that local Republicans do not even have the most infinitesimal possibility of changing. Continuing to spend time debating the merits of the United Nations at a county level illuminates an incredible aura of self-importance and dislocation from reality. 

Our younger generations do not want to waste their time arguing with people for the sake of arguing on items that will have zero impact on anyone’s life in that room. Listening to vitriolic defense of resolutions that will never be more than a footnote on a meeting minute and give the speakers their moment to act as though they are changing the world from their micro-pulpit does nothing to support the purpose of our party and in fact works to keep out those whom we need to become better.

Yet there are incredibly important issues that local and state Republicans have the Duty to debate and resolve. Our state faces difficult times in the present and future that require the people of Wyoming to work together to overcome. These are issues that can be put into action through meritous resolutions, legislative and executive appeal and candidate development. We have people in our communities who have a strong desire to help this state that they love so much and the capabilities and profundity to truly give us a hand up. The caveat is they want to help though, not to spend their time on pedantic and mobocratic debates that will never result in change.

Continuing to spend time debating the merits of the United Nations at a county level illuminates an incredible aura of self-importance and dislocation from reality.

As we enter into an economic situation that is unparalleled in our living memories, we have also chosen to ostracize those willing to help in the name of idealistic purity. These are ideals based on national issues that often have little to no relevance in the State of Wyoming; or in ways that only amendments in the United States Constitution have the possibility of resolving. 

We can all agree that the Second Amendment is a vital liberty to the people of Wyoming, there’s no need for us to debate this at the county and state level when everyone in the room already agrees. Instead we should be enacting serious dialogue, idea generation and solution development on how we are going to fiscally sustain ourselves in the coming decades, for instance. If we as a party look to pull ourselves out of this degenerative hole of extreme national politik, we can bring those into our party that we desperately need to solve real issues facing us and our progeny.

The younger generations that will carry this party forward want to be Republicans and they have all the ideals that have made this party great in the past. Despite what many believe in our interactions with the youth of this state, they are the future and it is our Obligation to help them become the leaders we need them to be. 

We must work to educate and train them, learn from them and empower them. Yet we are trying to force them to listen to us squabble and eat one another alive — why would they waste their time with us? We show them that if they don’t believe in every single thing that a select few have decided is gospel, they cannot be Republicans. 

We would never expect our spouse to believe in what we do 100%, but we expect it out of strangers that we have never met; the concept is asinine. So instead of bringing more people under our tent and harnessing the great minds we have in this state, we choose to take away the seat at the table of those who do not fall in line with the self-appointed plenipotentiaries of the party. 

It is no wonder that our youth are choosing to join other parties or just stay out of the political environment altogether; this has been done on our own volition. The model is unsustainable and will result in the complete spoliation of our party.  We often lie to ourselves that the apathy of youth to our party is the result of a weak or spoiled generation, but throughout the history of humankind we have heard this from the older generations. And even if that is true, why would we let them falter? Should we not work to educate them and help them become better, or should we continue to be stuck in our ways and avoid the Responsibility altogether?

Our party is at a crossroads and currently we are in a condition that does not bode well for our future. Will we continue to paint ourselves as pariahs and strive to contract our party as much as possible? Or will we work to progress the important ideals of Republicanism that derive from the initial foundings of our Great Nation by reaching out to the future? Will we spend our time arguing over issues that will never come to fruition? Or will we work toward the plenitude of our people and solve real issues that face our Great State? The people of Wyoming have the ability and desire to do grand things. But if we continue to treat our party as such, immurement will surely be our future. Our future is still bright, but we must reach out and hold strong to our virtues. It will have to start at the local level as we elect our precinct people, but we can still save our Great Party.

Sam Clikeman

Sam Clikeman is currently the vice chairman of the Campbell County Republican Party. A lifelong Republican and Wyoming native, he resides in Gillette with his wife and two children.

Join the Conversation

16 Comments

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Park (Pork) County has been the epicenter of these nuevo self transplanted carpetbaggers who’ve invaded both our county and the county GOP. Nary a one is a native or long time resident, most rolled in town in a mini-van and are renters (not taxpayers). This is a dangerous bunch that many believe will convert their angry rhetoric into action. Most of of us hope that eventually, it’ll cost just too much for the carpetbaggers to shack up in Park County and they’ll sneak out of here in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, got to give credit where it’s due, these migrants pulled off a bloodless coup and now are slowly taking over not just the county, but the state GOP

  2. So in reading this ‘opinion’ I am still unsure if the author attended the same meeting that I did. As there were many new young faces at the conference, the only ‘hostility’ that I observed were a few folks who, after admittedly violated their own rules and those of the State party, were upset that after asking forgiveness for their error were held accountable for their actions. It was a very close vote by the body to allow them to be seated. In a year where ‘accountability’ seems to be paramount, should we not set the example? If anything it was a great lesson for all that we have laws and rules for reasons. Next time, I expect there to be a large delegation from the counties (and there were several) who willingly violated the rules. We are a Constitutional Republic and no one is ‘above’ the law which is why our form of government is the longest lasting ever recorded in our civilization. We are better as a whole than you realize. Diluting our country and its governing will not bode well for the future of the world.

  3. Excellent editorial. I have been a republican since my first vote in 1964 but only remain one to vote for moderate candidates in primaries !

  4. We would probably do better with our current crop of high school prom king and queens in charge of the state.

    I am thankful for the few true professionals in the trenches that somehow manage to actually do great things for the people who live here. Residents who are more often than not scraping buy on a shoestring in a Wyoming that’s decades behind our neighbors economically, and behind the curve on many social issues. Perhaps the two go hand in hand.

  5. The republican and democrat parties are both wolves in sheep’s clothing. all politicians are corrupt and want or rather have a deep need to rule over other human beings. I think all political parties should die off. In fact, we need a constitutional amendment in the state and federal constitutions abolishing political parties. we are a nation of individuals period. There should not be two huge political machines that force every citizen into the directions they want to go. Hey, politicians leave them people alone.

  6. As a Democrat watching from the sidelines, I’d say it’s time for sane Republicans to form a third party. My gut feeling is that most Wyoming Republicans agree with the points made in your post and Wyoming’s conservative majority is so large, you wouldn’t have to worry about splitting the vote and electing a Democrat.
    I’m guessing that if you left the kooks (Eathorne, Bouchard, Gray, Susan Gore, Marti Halverson, etc., etc.) to run their purity contest and ran on policy solutions and ideas, the problem would solve itself in two election cycles.

  7. Hi, well some, were’s a long the line some one should have found out, what Liz was going to do, We all that voted for her have egg all over face. It made us the laughing stock of Washington,Now we have the same bunch that have been trying there darnedest to roune more, I Ranched next and near that bunch for 40 years, at Moore Spring Hills,,The REA, lost with there guidens,I lost1/2 of my dividends, in that caper, Somewere along the line WAKE UP.

  8. Good opinion piece. As a soon-to-be 59 year old, I’ve always considered myself Republican and always voted the same. It’s incredibly difficult to keep a straight face and tell young people the GOP can also be their party. The Wyoming Republican Party is divisive, narrow in focus, and almost pointless to talk to, much less reason with. Fo the first time in my life I’m no longer registered as a Republican and now register as an independent.

  9. Tribalism is strong in both of our two major political parties. We vs They is a predominant theme and it has ingrained the paradigm that any actions that threaten party unity are heretical. This has become increasingly obvious on both sides of the infamous aisle. I live in Colorado, which is now a “purple” state but we have the same tribal divide. Our rural population has shifted rightward and the urban folk have shifted to the left in the last 20 years. The legislature is heavily democratic and rural Coloradoans carry less and less political sway. I know native Coloradoans that are farmers and ranchers, and they feel themselves becoming diminished and forced to accept limitations and regulations that are contrary to how they want to live their lives. This is a common theme in most “fly over” states. Agriculture is beset upon by regulators, lawyers (see Roundup herbicide), extreme idealists that have never been involved with food production, faux ecologists, educators from non ag backgrounds etc. This creates a feeling of being shoved aside for many of them. As such, the fear of becoming pawns at the mercy of a stronger ruling class encourages Tribalism. We hang separately or we hang together. It appears that Trumpian politics is the best way to get elected in some districts/states. Supporting Trump is a sure fire path to rejection at the polls in many areas. Is this a healthy phenomenon for our nation?

  10. Amen. Efforts to squash any disagreement sound more like how we were taught authoritarian Communist regimes operated. America was supposed to be where people were free to express their ideas.

  11. Good editorial. I too am a life long Republican and the childish behavior of a section of the party is very sad.

  12. A fairly accurate assessment of the fringe repubs that are hurting our state.

    While it may be accurate, I doubt anything can be done to change the trajectory of the party. There are too many conspiracists, isolationists, bigots, and gullible members that scream the loudest.

    Time will tell..

  13. Mr. Clikeman,

    Very good editorial. Regarding your rhetorical question about whether we will “work to progress the important ideals of Republicanism,” would you please specify and explain what these are.

  14. My mom always used to say: “You reap what you sow.” For the past several decades, the GOP has allowed and accepted extreme right-wing views—bordering on fascism—to guide and ultimately control the party. Now, the GOP is facing the difficult task of de-programming people from this cult of hate. Good luck…we are all going to need it to meet this challenge!

  15. Such a well written piece. I’m 66 years old and I’ve ditched the Republican Party for the very reasons mentioned. This whole “purity of thought” BS is turning young AND ‘distinguished’ people away, and Medicaid expansion is a perfect example. Majority of constituents want it; it would provide much needed relief to our rural hospitals; it would improve quality of life for many. But NOOooo, the self anointed few deem otherwise. Sad, and frustrating…