Paul Hansen

Paul Hansen

I hope for a new year when we all understand human progress accurately.

Yes, much of the world is awful and can be much better, but overall world conditions keep improving.

When I was born in 1952, 28% of all children died by age 15. Now that figure has dropped to about 4%. Many diseases that ravaged humanity are gone or greatly reduced.

Today, every day, another 325,000 people get access to electricity. Every day more than 200,000 get piped water for the first time and 650,000 go online for the first time.

In 1980, 42% of humans lived in extreme poverty, defined as income under $2 a day. By 2015 it was only 10%. Sure, that is still too high, but it is much better. Illiteracy is disappearing worldwide.

Hope inspires action, so it is important we understand that the human condition is improving.

I hope that facts and science retain their role in decision-making. Dishonesty and hypocrisy do not lead to good outcomes.

I want to restore a culture where facts matter, whether it is from Republicans in Congress or students seeking “safe space” from competing ideas on some college campuses.

I would like to see us all call out stereotyping and rank hypocrisy in public life. While we are at it, let’s make it clear that hate speech and action has no place in America.

I want our next president to be someone who is honest and strives to bring us together, not divide us. That said, I do not want to trade self-righteous right-wing populists who crave the adulation of supporters and make promises they cannot keep for left-wing populists who also crave the attention of their base and who think we can spend tens of trillions on new government projects and take private health care away from 250 million Americans. I want someone who is in touch with reality who can govern a divided nation.

I hope our new president does not use Twitter much, if at all. I hope the new president reestablishes respect for free speech and commits to having his or her team face the nation’s press on a regular basis.

I hope our elections are protected from foreign interference and domestic cheating. Whether it is Republicans in North Carolina or Democrats in Maryland, gerrymandering election districts cheats voters. So is making it difficult for legitimate voters to go to the polls. Every secretary of state, Republican or Democrat, tells us there is no widespread voter fraud. Since being listed first on a ballot provides a significant electoral advantage, random listing should be standard.

If anyone gives a donation to a political campaign, directly or indirectly, that donation should be public. If you want to run for public office, show us your tax returns.

I hope we can agree that morality, character and integrity matter in all our interactions — but especially with our leaders. Winning at all costs weakens us all. Collaboration strengthens us.

In Wyoming, I want our state leaders to go back to the time when local decisions were respected. How is it that a state representative from Goshen or Riverton is better qualified to make decisions on Teton County land use or housing mitigation than we are?

I also hope members of the state Legislature will finally require that they are subject to the same open meeting laws that they require of towns and counties.

Locally, I hope we can start to make progress on key local issues: workforce housing, transportation, wildlife conservation, restoring polluted Fish Creek and Flat Creek, energy conservation, and municipal solid waste management. Those issues cannot be resolved by exhortation or advertising. If they are community values we share, we all need to share in the solutions — whether they are incentives, regulations or both.

Overall, I hope for a new year when we all remember that what unites us is much greater than what divides us.

Paul W. Hansen’s column appears twice per month. Columns are solely the opinion of their authors. Contact him by emailing

(1) comment

Ken Chison

Wow. Trump derangement syndrome at its finest here. So, you want facts to matter and you direct it towards Republicans in Congress? Sure Paul. We all know how straight forward and honest democrats in the house and congress are. Right? An entire democratic party that has promised to impeach from the day after Trump was elected. Yea. That's the party of honesty and facts there. Your wishes for our next President should be exactly what we have now and are going to have for four more years. Hurt feelings don't matter much in the real world. A strong leader who loves his country and it's people is something we haven't had until 3 years ago. A leader that doesn't go around apologizing for America's actions and puts our country above anyone else is exactly what I want. A President that wants everyone to have a job and not be dependent on govt is a good thing. Sorry Paul. Not everyone is equal. Life is made up of the haves, and have nots. At least everyone has an opportunity to become a haves. Quit using your guest spot as a political talking point. Or, use it honestly. Why don't you address the embarrassing democratic field that you obviously support so much. Talk about democratic socialism. Talk about taxing millionaires 90 percent. Talk about Bidens son and his dealings in Ukraine. These are those facts that matter to me about your picks.

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