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.