Pete went out the front door and looked across the street at the courthouse. The light in the judge’s office was out, but Judge Dyson and another man stood under a maple on the courthouse lawn talking politics in the light of the moon. The judge gestured animatedly. Dyson the old Democrat, fighting the good fight for the sinned-in-his-heart President Carter. Pete had read the race was close, but it wasn’t close here in Rimrock County. The people who lived up in the Yaak in their tar paper cabins and half-finished log homesteads weren’t political—they were perfect anarchists. Most of them lived here because the government was a negligible presence. They cut down their own trees for firewood. They hunted and fished whenever they wanted. Most trucks had a snowplow. Some even objected to the delivery of mail.
Dyson could generate a plurality of straight-ticket Democratic votes with state and federal employees and union guys, but he only prevailed on Election Day because the better part of the county actively avoided voting or mocked it, submitting Mickey Mouse as a write-in candidate.
But this year something was off. Hand-painted REAGAN COUNTRY signs had bloomed up in the pastures along the highway. Places that weren’t even hamlets, just little outposts of fierce individualism. The people the judge tried to cajole now didn’t care how long he’d been in the legislature, what committees he’d been on, or what pull he may or may not still have. They may have liked him personally, but not his pedigree.
– Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson