It's an observation that has been noted by many: Utahns often wear their religion on their sleeves. (Of course, there's more than one faith—but they just don't realize it.) Totally committed to the highest commandments—Thou shalt not smoke; Thou shalt not booze; Thou shalt not start thy day with a cup of joe; and, most important of all, Thou shalt begin all extramarital affairs with an opening prayer. It's no wonder Utahns find themselves in a quandary over the Trump White House. Faced with the nasty, mounting evidence of their president's acts, should they faithfully cling to old-standby scriptures or find some way to embrace the new morality being demonstrated by American leadership?
Utah's generous supply of fledgling-god youngsters are smack in the middle of what can only be described as baptism by fire—born into a world where there's no such thing as good and evil, and where survival is only possible for those who have sufficient elasticity to embrace outright contradictions. Those who are old enough to read and ponder are continuously slammed by paradox: their brains twisted and scrambled by the teachings of their parents clashing with the actions of a pathological narcissist at work. Every day they see the standard truths—including the traditional commandments—being stomped on. They face in their every waking moment, the reality that the world of which Utah is actually part, is not such a wonderful place, and that America, because of executive lunacy and deceit, has slipped from its previously undisputed leadership of the free world.
Pummeled by the confusion of national politics, Utahns have largely adopted a philosophy of see-no-evil-hear-no-evil, trying desperately to avoid the necessary judgment of condemning 45's moral and ethical failures. Instead, powered by a blind loyalty to the Republican Party, Utahns have simply turned their heads away from the corruption of Washington. Following its elected leadership and most of its congressional contingent, Utahns have embraced partisan politics and sacrificed their commitment to what they know is right. Even worse, they have capitulated to the professors of a might-makes-right mantra, castigating the boldness of an occasional maverick whisperer (like Sen. Mitt Romney) who chooses, at least occasionally, to call a spade a spade.
With the hollow-hearted, flag-flying, MAGA-rehearsing POTUS at the helm, the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, legal and illegal, law-abiding and criminal have all been blurred by an endless attack on hometown values. Things previously avoided in polite company have become the new norms. Pussy grabbing? No big deal. See, since our president has done it, it must be more or less OK. Lying? No worries; it's merely a new form of truth that differs from one person to another and requires far fewer calories than explaining the facts. Frolicking with sex workers? Listen, since generations of traditional royalty have never taken marital fidelity seriously, U.S. leadership should have the same mandate for a little healthy sexual release. Legality and criminality? Well, these terms are governed by endless nuance and the understanding that all laws were actually written to be broken. It's a simple matter of semantics.
Every one of us, Utahns and all Americans, have been forced to become mental contortionists—trying to figure out how to reconcile what's happening in D.C. with the principles which were conceived, articulated and committed to writing by the Founding Fathers.
We've become a nation of apologists, using our gymnast minds to justify how the man who promised to drain the swamp managed in two years to subvert much of the good of decades of more responsible leadership by employing a passel of people loyal only to their own, outside financial interests and to the corporations that provide an endless supply of future election dollars.
Folks, this is not about the Mueller report. This is about using our own standards to determine if there's anything good or noteworthy about POTUS. After all, we have brains for a reason and must make our own decisions. Will Utah's good citizens get sucked into the toilet bowl of Trump's incredibly low character and nasty behavior, or will they rally for the real values—the ones that most Americans know are right?
The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org