OPINION: Voting for the  current Contrarians

By on October 29, 2014

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – I first arrived in Jackson Hole in 1980 riding a wave full of hippie environmentalist types. We had discovered the coolest place in America: unbelievable natural beauty; a remoteness that made one’s sense of arrival even more dramatic; sublimity that for many of us had more spiritual power than anything a stuffy organized religion could offer. Like all colonists we were oblivious to the natives, other than to consume what they had produced and preserved. We fanned out and occupied territory from Wilson to East Jackson to Kelly.

An old boy network of crusty conservatives who believed in God, Country and Private Property dominated the political leadership of Jackson Hole at that time. Physical battles between bikers and cowboys, and rhetorical battles between conservatives and environmentalists were common, vigorous, and entertaining. Walking around town with long hair still had an element of danger to it, and elected officials on the record at public meetings uttered terms like “hippie dirtbag.” I chimed in on the side of the underdog, spouting off my righteous enviro-liberalism at every opportunity. The paradigm of intolerance needed to be subverted.

In the mid 80s I had an epiphany and became very conservative, but it may simply be that I’m a contrarian. I can’t bear to submit my will to whatever the dominant political correctness demands. For me, freedom of thought trumps all tribal loyalties, and an idea that is too fragile to be tested in debate, and tempered in the fire of free and fair public dialogue shouldn’t be allowed to guide our actions.

Over the years wave after wave of liberal immigrants have turned Teton County from red to blue. My former progressive comrades are continuing to entrench themselves into local government, and the idea that government has the right and duty to impose its will upon us in an ever-expanding myriad of ways is becoming canonical. Our freedom, independence and prosperity is dying a slow death by a thousand cuts, both from government intervention and from liberally orthodox social pressure: meddling land use regulations and redistributive exactions, ridiculously low speed limits, cell phone bans, idling bans, “taxes we don’t pay,” dubious recycling regimens, and an endless parade of liberal/green tokenism. The tide has turned.

Now, to suggest that we are “taxed enough already,” or that recycling is annoying and potentially a futile waste of time, is so heretical that mothers will pull their children close as I walk by, and whisper, “We don’t associate with that kind.” Conservatism in Jackson Hole 2014 is what long hair was in 1974.

As the election approaches I’m jumping up and down on the high side of the teeter totter trying to budge the debate, but the political center of our valley has moved so far to the left that my efforts seem quixotic. As is my habit I will reserve final judgment on all candidates until I walk up to the Senior Center voting kiosk and pick up my No. 2 pencil, but it’s likely I will be voting a straight-line Republican ticket, not because I’m giving in to the tribal mentality, but because I’m resisting it.

I can’t bear to vote for the currently dominant Democrat clique that smugly aligns itself with the “more government is better” theory. Taxing and spending are considered as right and natural as breathing in and out, and the left has haughtily proclaimed that it’s a foregone conclusion that government knows best, and there’s no need for debate.

Republicans, on the other hand, now that they are in the minority, have become humble and eager to please and be liked, and at least when they continue to tax and spend and over-regulate I imagine that they feel some sort of sheepish pangs of guilt for their own hypocrisy. I realize that my embrace of partisanship might be considered unseemly, but with the tendency of politicians to obfuscate their positions until after the election I will be very hard pressed to even take a guess as to who will represent my principles without the benefit of knowing their party affiliation. What’s a curmudgeon to do? It’s so difficult to be difficult nowadays.

Maybe next election I will start my own party and call it the Contrarians. You are welcome to join me, but keep in mind that if our numbers grow too large I will have to leave and join a different party.

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