FCDP Chair and WDP Vice-Chair Bruce Palmer wrote this essay.
Two weekends ago many of the Wyoming Republican Party’s “leaders”, including Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cindy Hill and Clark Stith, had the outrageously poor judgment to show up at the Bighorn Basin Tea Party event featuring Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent, an aging rocker of questionable musical talent has tried to stretch his career by making money as a vile, foul-mouthed culture warrior. His name-calling isn’t limited to bad taste, it is racist having referred to the President of the United States as a “subhuman mongrel” and “chimpanzee” and more recently after a Native American-owned casino canceled his show referring to his detractors as “unclean vermin”. Andi Clifford, a candidate for House District 33 and a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe calls it what it is in a statement on her Facebook page saying, “I denounce Ted Nugent’s bigoted and vile name calling. Most of us moved beyond his type of behavior when we were in elementary school.” This isn’t free speech it is childish, hurtful ranting and in most places this kind of behavior would earn you a trip to the woodshed for a spanking, but not in today’s Wyoming Republican Party where it gets you a visit from both of the party’s U.S. senators, the superintendent of public instruction and gubernatorial candidate, and a candidate for secretary of state.
It is unconscionable that in Wyoming, the home of one of the nation’s largest Indian reservations with 12,000 enrolled members that top Republican officials would think that their presence at this Fox-fueled hate-fest would be okay. The Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone people of the Wind River Indian Reservation have a right to expect that their top elected officials would at least have the commonsense to steer clear of an event featuring a controversial character like Ted Nugent. Enrolled Northern Arapaho and Senate District 25 candidate, Sergio Maldonado stated it well in the Casper Star-Tribune saying, “Any individual with a modicum of integrity and self-worth will distance themselves from him.”
If Nugent’s race-baiting were not enough to keep top Republicans away it would seem that their staffs would have done enough research to know that Nugent isn’t a real “family values” kinda guy either. Over the years Nugent has been well-known for a proclivity toward girls well under the age of consent. His 1981 song, “Jailbait” describing an inappropriate relationship with a thirteen year old should disturb anyone who is concerned about sexual predators. Nugent is one sick pup and to have Cindy Hill, the leader of the state’s schools gushing on YouTube over him is an insult to decent people everywhere.
Recently the Wyoming Democratic Party hosted Dolores Huerta, a woman of class and conviction, to speak at our convention about her efforts to organize farm workers in the 1970s. She has continued her career as a standard-bearer for many of our nation’s under-represented. The juxtaposition of Dolores Huerta, a humble, yet assertive woman fighting for human dignity and Ted Nugent, a vulgar loudmouth fighting for the right to have guns with 100 round magazines says much about the state of Wyoming’s two political parties.
Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cindy Hill and the Wyoming Republican Party owe the people of Wyoming an apology. They need to say that hatred is wrong, that human dignity is the least every resident of Wyoming should expect and that they will no longer “pal around” with has-been (or never-were), rocker hate-mongers.
The Wyoming people deserve so much more from our elected leaders.