We are here as Wyoming Democrats. And we have come to Rock Springs from all across the state. And what a state it is. We are spoiled by rich, diverse landscapes. From Bear’s Lodge/Devils Tower in the east; to the vast sagebrush seas of central Wyoming and on to the Wyoming Range in the west. From the Snowy Range in the south to the Bighorns and the Absarokas in the north. This is Wyoming and we are captivated by the beauty and the power of this land. It is incredible. And we are blessed.
Blessed not just by mountains and land, but by life-sustaining water– the Wind River and the Sweetwater. The Platte and the Belle Fourche. The Snake and the Green. These waters are life-sustaining and refresh our very soul. We are truly blessed.
This incredible landscape is the home to a rich tapestry of individuals all tied together by the commonality of being Wyomingites. We’re a diverse people from a variety of backgrounds —Here in Rock Springs they boast 58 nationalities among their residents. We have the latest transplant from one of the coasts wielding a MacBook and a dream of living in the West and pioneer families that have been on the land since the late 1800s. You’ve probably seen jacked up pick up trucks with the bumper stickers that say “Wyoming Native”; well in Fremont County we are the home of the real Wyoming Natives with the people of the Wind River Indian Reservation—the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho. We are much more diverse than we commonly recognize.
The people of Wyoming work in a wide variety of occupations– oil and gas, state and federal workers, educators, environmental community, agriculture, mountaineers. All work is noble and important and in Wyoming while there are many ways to make a living; none of them are easy.
People and place define who we are. We are all Wyomingites and while we share this landscape and the diverse population with many political outlooks only Democrats look at our landscape and see beauty first, not consumption. We see people first and not ideology.
Our Wyoming Democratic values spring forth from this land and its people. And we should be proud of these values. Our Wyoming experience says that caring about our neighbors is important, caring for our environment is important. Our Wyoming experience says that we get more done when we work together and lift up and honor every member of our community. Our Wyoming experience tells us to seize on commonsense solutions when they present themselves and not be dragged down by ideological fervor. Our Wyoming experience puts people ahead of corporate interests.
Kind of brings a tear to your eye doesn’t it?… All of our values don’t mean much if we don’t tell people what we believe. These values don’t mean much if we don’t start winning more elections and change the dynamics of our government. We need to differentiate Democrats from Republicans and we need to call Republicans out when we see them playing games. We need to tell Wyoming what we believe.
We need to tell people that:
- Year in and year out Wyoming is 1st in workplace fatalities and last in gender wage equality. This is wrong. Industry self-regulation isn’t working. Republicans are wrong on this issue. We need to tell people about this.
- Democrats believe the minimum wage should a living wage. Here in Wyoming 33,000 workers would be positively impacted by an increase to $10.10 an hour. That’s 10% of our work force and this would be the best first step toward righting our gender wage gap. Thank you Rep. Byrd for bringing this issue forward in the last session. Republicans are wrong on this issue. We need to tell people about this.
- Democrats value our public employees and believe that stuffing billions in the bank while our employees—the ones who educate our children, care for our disabled, maintain our roads—see their buying power decreased by going years without a raise is wrong. Republicans are wrong on this issue. We need to tell people about this.
- Democrats believe that the vacation theft act signed into law two years ago stealing employees earned, accrued vacation is wrong. No Democrat supported this legislation and nearly every Republican did. We need to tell people about this.
- Democrats believe that Medicaid expansion isn’t just the right thing to do. It is just plain commonsense. Republican obstinance is leaving 16,700 of our Wyoming neighbors without access to healthcare while costing the state 47 million dollars. Let’s call this what it is: dumb. Thanks to everyone in this room for your work on this. We need to continue to tell people about this.
- Democrats believe in the power of education and the importance of high academic standards for our children. When it comes to science we believe a lot of things, including that the earth revolves around the sun. That the earth is round. We believe in evolution and we believe that in order for our children to solve the issues that they will face they need to be educated on the science of climate change. I’d be curious to know where on that spectrum of scientific advance we would have lost Governor Matt Mead.
- Democrats believe the term Equality State means equality for all. Until marriage equality is realized we are falling short of our state’s nickname. Democrats are leading on this issue and the Republicans are again out to lunch.
These are just a few examples where the Republicans are just plain wrong on the issues. We need to tell people about Wyoming Democrats compassionate, commonsense solutions to the issues that hold back many of our state’s less fortunate.
In 2012 I ran for the Wyoming Legislature from Lander. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I knocked on doors extensively, more than 2,500. I met people that I never would have met otherwise and explored neighborhoods that I had never visited before. It was great.
Earlier this week I came out of the office where I work in Lander and was walking up Third Street. I could see a man walking toward me. He is one of Lander’s marginalized. He is always unkempt and poorly dressed. I am sure that he deals with mental health issues. To my great discredit I thought for a moment about crossing the street, but my better side won out and we passed one another and exchanged a “hello.” After we passed each other, the man loudly exclaimed, “Hey.” I turned and he said, “Hey, Bruce, I still have your sticker on my car. Palmer for House!” Wow! That blew my doors off. I expressed thanks and we continued on our way.
Something about my campaign resonated for this man. But it wasn’t me, it is our shared Democratic values and our vision for a Wyoming that puts compassion, community and commonsense above ideology and political purity. We stand up for the marginalized. We believe in Wyoming’s workers and work on their behalf. We see beauty across our state and believe that balance is the best way to ensure that our children and grandchildren can experience the Wyoming that we love. We are Democrats and we are the Party of hope.
As we approach this election season we need to do so with a sense of purpose. For too long Democrats have been marginalized in this state. To some extent, I think we have accepted this. We talk politics among ourselves, but we’re afraid to speak out. It is time to step up and be proud. We need to recognize that this isn’t a game. Real people are counting on us.
Support the Party and our candidates. Write a check, make some calls, run for office, manage a campaign. Step it up, Wyoming Democrats. The work we do matters. Have a great convention!