Wyoming Republican Susan Stubson, wife of former congressional candidate Tim Stubson, is one such Christian Republican. From the pages of the New York Times, the gist of his story is that everything has changed in the Republican Party since Donald Trump came onto the scene, and all for the worse.
As my faith grew, so did Tim’s political career in the Wyoming Legislature. (He served in the House from 2008 to 2017.) I have straddled both worlds, faith and politics, my entire adult life. There was often very little daylight between the two, one informing the other.
What has changed is the rise of Christian nationalism. … Gone are the days when a legislator could be circumspect about using his faith as a vehicle to garner votes.
Imagine believing that Christian nationalism didn’t exist in 2008, and there was a time when politicians didn’t use faith as a vehicle to garner votes. What do you think Barry Goldwater was complaining about in 1994? Trump did not encourage a right-wing Christian revival. He rode the wave by explicitly and openly appealing to his bigotry and regressive agenda. Stubson cries that “Christian nationalists have hijacked both my Republican party and my faith community by blurring the lines between church and government and in the process redefining our state’s identity,” yet the Christian Coalition is active since the late 1980s, and its manifesto and partisan religiosity has exerted a corrosive influence on our politics for decades. This is literally the reason I quit the Republican Party in 1994 and became a Democrat.
Wyoming is a “make you” state. When it’s a blinding snowstorm, the tractor is in a ditch and we need a neighbor with a winch, our differences disappear. It doesn’t matter what you look like or who you like.
Bullshit. It’s easy to “not care” what a neighbor looks like when the state is 92% white. And Matthew Wayne Shepard was well aware, in its final moments, how much the people of Wyoming cared about who they loved. Wyoming passed its first ban on same-sex marriage in 1997, and passed an even tougher one in 2003.
Conservatives in Wyoming (which includes most of the state) absolutely care about how people look and who they love. Heck, Stubson herself begins this article by complaining about a racist voter she met while her husband was campaigning for office. What if racism was so rare in Wyoming, we wouldn’t be making headlines like this one from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle: “Don’t let Cheyenne become known as a racist town,” in a story filled with examples of racism.
That’s not to say the rest of America is more evolved, but why sit there and pretend Wyoming is something it clearly isn’t?
Yet despite having lived in this conservative stronghold for many years, with its longstanding racism and bigotry, Stubson now pretends to be outraged by the new generation of MAGA Republicans.
The impact of this new breed of legislators was rapid. The people of Wyoming got a very real glimpse during the last legislative session of the dangers of one-size-fits-all nationalized policies that ignore the nuances of our state. Last year, maternity wards closed in two sparsely populated communities, further expanding our maternity desert. Yet while debating a bill to provide relief to new moms by expanding Medicaid postpartum coverage, State House rookie Jeanette Ward invoked a brutally narrow view of the Bible. “Cain said to God, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ “, did she say. “The obvious answer is no. No, I’m not my brother’s keeper. But don’t kill him.
Yes, it’s hard. Seems even for the Wyoming course, though. Why did these rural hospitals close? Best Wyoming has the reasons:
The Wyoming legislature has the ability to help struggling hospitals in the state. But lawmakers continue to block our healthcare industry from receiving tens of millions of dollars in federal funding each year by refusing to expand Wyoming Medicaid.
Yeah, it’s about Republicans in Wyoming, the ones Stubson says would do anything to help each other. Wyoming already ranks as the sixth most dependent federal state in the countryso I don’t know why health care is the red line for Republicans.
And that’s not all ::
The three hospitals have been hit hard by financial problems, including staff shortages and losses of “uncompensated care” due to treating uninsured patients in their emergency rooms who cannot pay.
Well, look at this. You know what would help manage uninsured patients? Insure these patients! But Wyoming’s small population and its two ultraconservative senators are among the vanguard against universal health care.
In addition to this, we have already seen a OB-GYN brain drain rural hospitals in Red State and GOP-run states because doctors refuse to work under conditions that criminalize basic health care. Abortion is still legal in Wyoming, thanks to a recent decisionbut it is still very threatened.
Stubson might decry Ward’s biblical explanation for refusing additional postpartum care, but her husband served in the state Legislature from 2008 to 2017, one of the majority Republicans who created the conditions that led to this “maternity desert”.
Back to the Times article:
This puzzling ‘mash-up’ of Scripture (Ms Ward got it wrong: the answer is yes, I am my brother’s keeper) is emblematic of a Christian nationalist weaponizing the word of God to push the agenda of the day . We should expect applicants who identify as followers of Christ to show some concern for others.
The Liberals have been saying this for decades. What would Jesus do? Jesus certainly wouldn’t promote policies that have led to maternity deserts in rural America, and Jesus certainly wouldn’t deny food aid to elderly voters in debt ceiling negotiations.
I am adrift in this nameless sea, detached from both my community of faith and my political party as I try to reconcile the repeated endorsements of evangelical candidates who thumb their noses at the least of them. We. Christians are called to serve God, not a political party, to put our faith in a higher power, not human beings. We are taught not to bow to false idols. Yet idolatry is becoming more prevalent, and our fundamentals—humility, kindness, and compassion—are rare.
It’s hard to find sympathy for Stubson, because she’s part of the problem. But maybe this realization can help her become part of the solution. The Times is not the place to spread this word, but perhaps it is spreading in rural congregations and via small town newspapers. Perhaps the neighbors are whispering about this displeasure.
Yet Stubson’s final story offers little hope.
In February, Governor Mark Gordon hosted a Prayer Breakfast, a tradition of the Wyoming Legislative Assembly where leaders gather, read scripture, and hear an inspirational message. Breakfast came toward the end of the Legislature session, a hail of ugly exchanges between the Freedom Caucus and other right-wing lawmakers and moderates, a house more divided than ever.
If you want to lament the pernicious injection of religion into the political process, a process in which politicians have supposedly never participated, then don’t talk about a “prayer breakfast” in which everyone has to ” to gather “. Perhaps plead for the abolition of this prayer breakfast? Stubson’s problem isn’t that she’s upset with the Christian right for gobbling up her party. She is upset that it is a different kinds of Christian. It’s not his type.
It is an ideological objection. She was so good with the previous version of Jesus Republicans that she didn’t even realize they were Jesus Republicans.
One last point, because this is beyond comprehension:
Wyoming [is] a place so concerned about preserving our live-and-let-live cowboy culture, we enshrined it in our state code, Section 8-3-123.
I had to check that. Here is article 8-3-123:
(a) The Western Code, derived from the book Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen and summarized as follows, is the official state code of Wyoming. The code includes:
(i) Live each day with courage;
(ii) Take pride in your work;
(iii) Always finish what you start;
(iv) Do what needs to be done;
(v) Be tough, but fair;
(vi) When you make a promise, keep it;
(vii) riding for the brand;
(viii) Talk less, say more;
(ix) Remember that some things are not for sale;
(x) Know where to draw the line.
Good heaven. Is there something in there about “live and let live,” or is Stubson gaslighting me? There’s certainly nothing in there to fight bigotry, or let people love whoever they want, or kiss people who don’t look like you. Heck, there’s not even anything in there that sounds like “don’t be an asshole”. In fact, I could see someone being an asshole and using ‘doing what needs to be done’, ‘being tough’ and ‘knowing where to draw the line’ to justify it! Never mind that the larger code that these people demand we live by says very clearly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Yesterday we ran a story on a Tennessee county commission where the new lunatics in charge decreed that their decisions should “reflect the Judeo-Christian values inherent in the founding of the nation.” It tore this conservative community apart. “What’s happened here is the Sumner County Constitutional Conservative Republican group, they don’t believe in government,” said Baker Ring, a Republican in his fourth term. county commission and is not aligned with the new majority. “They are opposed to the government. But now they are the government.
That’s conservatism in a nutshell, and it always has been.
There is also this story I wrote last week about St. George, Utah, where the still sane Republican City Council is under attack from the city’s MAGA base. There is a veritable civil war going on in the conservative movement today.
STubson’s story is part of this story, even if I am less sensitive to his fate. Wyoming has long been the worst of the worst. She’s just unhappy that even worse people are now in charge.
Way to Win’s Jennifer Fernandez Ancona joins Markos and Kerry to talk about the new messaging the Democratic Party national candidates are using in 2024. Ancona was right about the messaging needed to win midterms, and we think she’s right about 2024.