As I sit here in my office, considering the intensity of the current Washington news cycle, I can't help but be frustrated, dismayed and disappointed in Utah's leadership and my fellow citizens.
We all knew, even before the botched, Russian-manipulated election of 2016, that Donald Trump was no saint. Anyone who had ever done business with the man had essentially reported that his "Art of the Deal" was simply a well-established pattern of cheating everyone else for his own benefit. Matters like Trump University, the blatantly racial discrimination by the Trump organization in its rental policies, and Trump's pussy-grabbing—boys-will-be-boys—disrespect for womanhood were all widely known before the election. Perhaps most revealing of all was a statement in The New York Times, back in 2004, long before his run for president: "His name has become such a byword for success that even the most humiliating reverses barely dent his reputation. . . . The rules that govern others just don't apply to Trump."
In addition to the cries of corruption and sub-basement morals, Trump's self-aggrandizement was there for everyone to see—always focusing on himself and overstating or lying about his accomplishments. He "graduated at the top of his class." (Nobody believes it; he was a mediocre student, at best, and he threatened to sue the school if it released any of his academic records.) He has "one of the highest IQs in America." (Creative dreaming!) His father, Fred, was "born in Germany." (Giving Trump the benefit of the doubt on this one, I suppose there might be a little-known sixth borough in New York City called Deutschland.). The call with Ukraine President Zelensky was a "perfect call," and there was "no quid pro quo." (The incomplete transcript is a big clue.) "Self-made billionaire." (Hardly, considering that his father left him a cool $413 million.) He knew nothing about the hush-money paid to Stormy Daniels. (Uh huh.) The list goes on and on. Surely, Utahns should be tiring of his fabrications.
We all knew from the start; there was an unmistakable clue as to whether Trump was lying—if the tiny mouth was moving, that was the dead giveaway, and there were few times when it wasn't. And yet, Utahns have demonstrated the most incredible mental gymnastics in justifying his behavior. Evidence of Trump's dishonesty—not at all an insignificant character flaw—has been constantly reinforced by remarkably regular bombshells about his always-denied immoral and illegal behavior. Frolicking with hookers and porn stars—no surprise. Cheating at golf—nothing new. Lying to the press about virtually everything—just a questionable, but personal, element of style. Fourteen-thousand lies—so what's new? Can it be possible that Utahns have taken the admonition "Judge that ye be not judged" just a little bit too far?
Even worse, Utah is a stronghold for Trump's conspiracy theories, especially the one about "fake news," and the implied premise that real news is only available from the likes of Hannity, Kellyanne, Limbaugh and other administration puppets. The donning of monikers like "the chosen one," possessor of "great and unmatched wisdom," attractor of "record crowds" is a device for distracting us from the real issues. He wasn't fit to serve in the beginning, and he's less fit now. As a non-professional assessor of mental health, I'd say his delusions are growing worse.
With myriad accusations of various moral outrages—all of which Trump claims are bogus—there are, of course, those who will chalk it all up to the premise that such a wealthy man is, naturally, going to be the target of accusations. While the daily revelations of Trump's misdeeds, and particularly his continuous obstructions of justice, should alarm every patriotic citizen, it seems we live in a state where the population is more concerned with blind support of its Republican president than in doing the "right" thing. Somehow, Utahns have remained indelibly red, lambasting all those who are seeking to restore rationality and decency to the office of president.
Why are Utahns so fearful of the truth? Is it really necessary to drag them, kicking and screaming, to the facts? For a state supposedly filled with God's elect, why is there such reluctance to seeing their president, absent the smoke and mirrors, for exactly what he is?
Mormon children were all required to memorize the scripture, "... and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32). It is one of the Bible's greatest gems and a passage familiar to most Christians. Wake up, Utah! It eludes me how, after being made aware of that scripture at an early age, the truth is viewed more as a threat to comfortable oblivion than as an opportunity for enlightenment. There is, after all, no real freedom where there is incomplete information. Thus, the impeachment process is very much about American freedom. Facts, and facts alone, are the source of all valid opinions, decisions and responsible actions.
The U.S. House of Representatives has now voted on the fact-gathering process for the public impeachment hearings. The vote made it crystal clear that party lines—not personal moral convictions—determined the yeas and nays. Starting this month, open public hearings will provide those truths Utahns have been trying so desperately to avoid.
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