Writer opposed rules of purity, but the discussion was valid

Dear Editor,
I would like to thank former State Senator Ray Peterson for opening the door to a very key issue of public dialog. His guest column in the April 25 edition of the Lovell Chronicle emphasizes a fundamental element of a “free society” -- the opportunity to speak out and influence public discourse. The subject which Senator Peterson refers to as the “Slippery Slope” Committee, “SSC,” is important to be aware of; a more fundamental principle at stake here I would like to bring forth.
I was in attendance at the Big Horn County GOP meeting in Basin on March 2, 2024, when the subject, as I called it then a “Purity Police”, “PP” was brought forward to the floor for discussion. The “PP” would decide which candidates for office qualified as “gold star” candidates and if they carried sufficient longevity as a “gold star” in order to receive “Party” backing. I rose in opposition to the idea that day, questioning who would serve on the “PP” Committee and asking where were the rules of purity written so that a candidate could measure their qualifications against said rules. I was overridden by the majority vote, and the issue moved forward to the state convention.
I was also in attendance at the GOP State Convention in Cheyenne on April 19 and 20, representing Big Horn County as a delegate on the “Platform Committee.” The platform committee is tasked with the responsibility to produce a final draft of the core essence of what the party believes and to format said draft into a publishable document that can be shared with the public prior to an election season, thus bringing clarity, cohesiveness and unification to a political agenda. It is an “oath” to this party platform that the “PP” or as you called it the “SS” committee, seeks adherence.
In OUR committee deliberations the subject of party purity was never brought to the floor for discussion. However, as may have been appropriate, the topic could have come before the “Resolutions Committee,” which is charged with addressing current topics of concern and deciphering through their relevance, then prioritizing these issues to come before the body as a whole for debate and discussion. In such a fashion the topic was totally appropriate and dealt with in an orderly manner.
Although not really germane to this letter, I will point out that in the last election cycle a “Purity Police Pledge,” “PPP,” was circulated, and most if not all of the current electorate in our area signed on to that pledge. I agree with Mr. Peterson that this is a slippery slope; “SS”.
To be fair, how did we get to such a place where this is now an issue of discussion?
1st: To be very clear, a political party, Republican, Democrat, Nazi, Socialist, Green, Workers, Independent or whatever other affiliation one wishes to claim membership with, is NOTHING MORE than a social club. As such they may include or exclude whomever they choose based upon criteria of their choosing.
2nd: The social clubs are NOT government. Government is the elected officials who are, at least in the United States of America, responsible to the people to be STEWARDS, SERVING at the pleasure of the people and DEFENDING the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people. Rights granted from God to every human being in order to protect them FROM the government of the people.
3rd: Membership in these clubs attempt to define key issues important to their membership and attempt to solicit candidates capable of articulating, defending, persuading and in general giving voice to these key issues. Occasionally, the membership seeks leadership willing to defend their position with “Sacred Name and Honor and Reputation,” those being very few and much harder to find. (Think Lincoln, Reagan, others? And speaking of Salem Witch Trials, how about Donald J. Trump?)
The reason that such a discussion is happening at the State GOP convention is this: too many candidates, elected officials and government “want to be’s” lay claim to the party title of being a “Republican” and through charisma, popular appeal and/or name recognition win a public seat. In Wyoming with somewhere near 89% populace registered as Republican it gets a candidate into the race for public office and if victorious the winner can then govern in a contrary fashion, thus alienating the constituency. The rhetoric of the “SSC” or the PPP” subcommittee is really public discourse aimed at a very real concern to the body politic.
George Washington, first president of the United States, warned against the two-party system of politics, fearing the day, that we may now be in, wherein polar opposite viewpoints arguing over semantics would rule the day concerning public dialog. Washington encouraged his colleagues to seek out wise, learned and trustworthy individuals to SERVE in government and to avoid partisan politics. I personally don’t think that after 235 years we’ve learned or listened much to this wise advice.
As President Ronald Reagan said, “Government is the problem.” I believe this is so, because we have ideologues fighting each other to claim superior purity, and we have ideologues fighting in order to claim victory in an election in order to claim power. (So that they can stick it to the opposition?) In closing, it is important that the debate was held and that the issue was brought to the floor for exposure. I’m personally grateful that the issue was defeated and that wisdom prevailed.
Rest assured that the issue will come back again for debate in that there exists a lot of rancor toward many of the elected officials. My primary point being: If you want something different, you’ve got to do something different. As I said during my own campaign run: SHOW UP, STAND UP, SPEAK UP, SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN. Go to a meeting, serve on a board, volunteer to help somewhere.
I really appreciate Senator Peterson and his willingness to speak out, and I know from his history that he will show up. I hope that this letter adds some context for the public to consider as we head into the next election cycle. Who ARE the candidates? What DO they really stand for? What DO they represent? Will they diminish THEIR ego in order to SERVE their constituency? What social club do you and they really represent?
May God bless us as we continue to try to Kill each other.
Tim J. Beck
Registered Grumpy Old Person, Rancher (GOP) and newly formed Grateful Old Putz, Retired