Visiting the Heartland

JHorse and rider with flag

Horse and rider with flag, Cody, WY, rodeo

Just spent a week in Montana, with a little time in Wyoming and Idaho. Worth commenting on in the context of the Democratic convention this week.

It’s easy to forget how different California is from the heartland:

  • The Cody Wyoming rodeo began not just with the flag (see picture) but:
    • A long, extemporaneous prayer
    • A recording of John Wayne saying patriotic things against the background of “America the Beautiful”  (and no one was snickering)
    • Then, finally, “The Star Spangled Banner”
    • However, when the rodeo clown (who was miked) told misogynist jokes about “his wife,” the crowd didn’t laugh.
    • BUT — this was for tourists, and it was clear that there weren’t many locals in the crowd.
  • My friend in Idaho told me about her homeowners’ association starting with a prayer. When she objected, others asked if she was an atheist or something.
  • Scanning through the radio stations, as many as half were religious.
  • The motel breakfast rooms uniformly had Fox News on the TV.
  • Cody has a “gunfight” on the city streets every night. While it opened with a good warning against touching guns, clearly aimed at kids (and a very powerful demo of a gunshot with a blank tearing a coke can into 3 pieces), this was far from anti-gun, pro-gun-control. In fact, it seemed to assume that people have guns around — which, around there, they do.
  • Very many US flags, everywhere.  Many more than I’ve seen in the Mountain West before this.
  • Many references to military veterans.  Of course, many people, regardless of their politics, honor veterans.  But it had a right-wing feel to it.  (Also, I suspect that a larger proportion of their young people go into the military — I had breakfast one morning in Cody with an 85-year-old woman who has lived in Wyoming for 60 years, and she said that there are no opportunities for young people there.)
  • My friends told me that there’s a lot of resentment of “wealthy Californians” coming in a buying up property and building vacation homes.
  • Very little apparent diversity: few people of color, few people who appeared to be gay.  The people speaking languages other than English were European tourists.

Worth remembering as we go into the campaign season.

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2 responses to “Visiting the Heartland

  1. Also worth remembering that Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho together have only 10 electoral votes, compared to California’s 55.

  2. Well, yeah, but Gore lost (for example) on the weight of New Hampshire’s four EC votes. The final tally was 271-266, which means that even Montana or Wyoming with their three electoral votes, could have swung the election.

    Now I grant you, a situation like 2000 is somewhat rare, but it’s kinda silly to dismiss them as “they only have ten electoral votes” when Montana and its three electoral votes, for example, might play a bigger piece in this year’s election than California and her mighty 55 electoral votes that are all but guaranteed for the Democrat.

    Just my thoughts, anyway.

    -kat

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