WYOMING - The football team

The presidential battle in the U.S. through Flemish eyes! Today part 11: Niels Claes writing us from Wyoming, traditionally a Republican state, also called the 'Equality State' or even the Last Frontier: "A blizzard or a grizzly doesn’t make a difference between a man and a woman." Wyoming may be Republican ground, but do the people support all Donald Trump's ideas?

Niels is living together with his wife, Deni, in Laramie: "Currently we are both working at the University here in Wyoming, looking at hydrological processes (streamflow and irrigation). We have been here now for two year and are enjoying the wide open spaces and nature of Wyoming."

"I am working at my PhD and my research brings me to different areas in the state of Wyoming. This gives me the opportunity to talk with people all over the state and get to hear what they think about the current political situation."

Like a football team

I have been hearing the same message in my neighborhood for a couple of weeks and even months now: "When will it be over?"

Wyoming is traditionally a Republican state. Even people with a democratic mindset still register for the Republican Party because otherwise they don’t get elected for public office.

It is sometimes like a football game: you might not like some players in your team, but you still like your team. The same goes for politics here: you might not like the politicians, but you still believe in the more general ideas supported by your political party. However… the current nominee makes it quite difficult for a lot of people to keep on supporting ‘their team’.

The "pretty self-sufficient" ranchers

Here in Laramie, in the south-east corner of Wyoming, half of the inhabitants are students, faculty and staff who work at the University of Wyoming. A large group of them support the Democrats.

The locals in the wider region around Laramie are ranchers or have a small business that you can find in every small town in the West (barber, butcher, grocery store,…). These hard-working people didn’t stay around to get rich. They just want to take care of their family through hard, but fair work. They don’t depend on support from the state and are pretty self-sufficient.

They pretty much have to. If you live on your ranch and the next ranch, house or town is located at a distance of 20 or 30 kilometres, you do not call the police or want to depend on other public services. This also explains why they are very fond of their rights and the constitution. The right to have their own gun, to protect their land and to say what they think is not something they think should be restricted.

The Last Frontier

Nature can be very rough out here and some call it one of the "last frontiers", next to Alaska. All of these factors make that the local mindset is pretty conservative with traditional values being much appreciated.

On the other hand, it is also called the equality state; equality between man and woman. This was the first state with voting rights for women. And it makes sense: a blizzard or a grizzly doesn’t make a difference between a man and a woman.

A simple solution!

As to politics, most locals have a simple solution for all of the problems in the country: Get to work. They look with distrust towards people living in big cities, people that might depend on social welfare and towards people complaining about foreigners taking their jobs.

Immigrants want to work, they want to contribute to society and don’t mind doing the jobs that many Americans don’t want to do because of low payment or the hard labor. And that is what counts here: willing to work, contribute to your local community and take care of your family.

"Next time, it will be better"

It will be interesting to see the results of the elections: will they keep on cheering for their own team or will the players of their team make them stay at home? They just want it to be over and wait for next elections. “Next time, it will be better, for sure”.