I've never been one to exalt when good things happen. It's been many years since even my youngest child was born, so I barely remember the celebration after each arrived. Since each were early-morning babies, it's likely any celebration was short-lived and that, by afternoon, I was in the office looking for typos, mostly mine. I'm happy when the University of Utah football team wins a big game, and I jump up and down (in my mind) when a big play occurs. I've been sincerely happy when people at City Weekly are given accolades or otherwise called out for an accomplishment of some sort. Me and euphoric happiness, though, are not first cousins.
Today, however, I'm happy as a lark. If this year of COVID lent me any lessons, it was to remain optimistic even when I'm surrounded by senseless jerks. It taught me to be patient even when leaders of a once proud political party—the GOP—were busy kissing heinie of an obviously outclassed, dangerous and demented U.S. president at the expense of not only their fellow citizens, but also the very country that provided them the right to behave as jerks. Party members attacked our U.S. Capitol, for God's sake, and today try to pretend it was a case of mistaken identity. Nope, they are criminals, and I remain optimistic that their justice will come. That isn't why I'm happy, though.
It's because—despite all those Utah families who are abundant, fertile and obviously having lots of sex, who are doing their damnedest to keep Utah apace with the population spurts of bunny rabbits, lemmings, voles and rodents—that according to the most recent U.S. Census, Utah didn't grow enough in population to warrant a fifth U.S. congressional seat. Not even those many newbies moving into Utah were enough to move the needle. Can you imagine having one more Chris Stewart or Burgess Owens representing us in Congress? That's what it would be, you know. So, I'm happy, feeling blessed in fact, that's not going to happen.
Utah is not the Utah of my grandparents. I know, I know—it's not the same as your grandparents, either. But many of you readers are younger than I and are already great-grandparents. My grandparents were all born in the 1800s. They wouldn't recognize a bit of today's Utah, save maybe our mountain peaks. In my grandmother Vera Caldwell's case, she could still visit the log cabin in Dry Fork, Utah, where she was born. Somehow, it still stands.
I'd like to think our growth will have a natural and positive outcome. I don't, though. We've blindly engaged in a growth disaster, and we're heading for another with every bit of our resources soon to be tested like they never have. This is a problem, to have too many people living in a high-desert environment that doesn't have the agricultural resources to feed them all. Nor will it have the water to sate the cattle or grow the crops that farm and range animals need. So long as the Utah economy thrives by attracting employees to tech or even MLM companies, that means Utahns born or arriving here tax our systems ever more, but they also don't do anything to replace the systems they subtract from.
I'm sounding pessimistic about growth. I am not, however, anti-growth. The problem is basic. Utah embarked on this path on all cylinders during the past four or five decades: tourism, lifestyle and clean jobs. In nearly every year of those decades, we've had a Republican governor, and, since the 1970s, all Republican U.S Senators (quick—what did Orrin Hatch ever do for you?). Meanwhile, in the U.S. House, since 1980, the total years served by Utah Democrats in Washington, D.C., is less than 30 years but Republicans were in office more than 120 years in that span. There's no point of even measuring the local Utah House and Senate where the Republicans remain a super majority, held to no standard of honest representation since they have no fear of losing in Utah's Tetris game of keeping their gerrymandered districts.
With Republicans in charge, Utah got where it is and is heading for worse. Time will tell if newly elected Gov. Cox will bridge the needs of all Utahns, which are not nearly as uniform as, say, the residents of corn-only Iowa. As always, someone will send a letter saying I should be grateful for our great economy and mostly safe streets. Right, but I could once afford a house, and our streets were safer in my 1970s. Meanwhile, Trump's promise of an infrastructure rebuild failed, and Utah's Republican delegation now bleats that Biden is not doing enough—despite Biden actually taking action on it. They'd complain about wet milk.
The dogged truth is that Utah's slicing up Utah's Democrats so that they have no representation in Washington, D.C., is a glorious mess. Even Utah's sane Republicans should realize that having Utah's rural counties basically calling all the political shots in Utah is a failure. If Utah were granted another representative in Congress, you could bet your last alfalfa bale that he or she would be accorded a permanently Republican district that further cuts out Utah Democrats. Even at four districts, the new dicing will make it even harder to elect a Democrat to Congress.
So, today, I'm euphoric. If we can go another 10 years without producing just one more Fox-lie enabler like Jason Chaffetz, it will be worth it to be without representation. Utah's penchant for electing boneheaded, dumb, partisan, arrogant and selfish Republicans to elected office is like playing a dead slot machine in Wendover. Lots of lights flashing around, never a payoff.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.