This week, in the Tuesday Edition of the Washington Post, a story about the politics of our family's hometown, Randolph, Utah appeared on the front page of the newspaper. It was in connection with the President's State of the Union Address, which would be delivered later that evening. The article was titled: Utah Town Has Question About President: 'What's Not to Like?' Kind of an Alfred E Newman "What Me Worry?" type headline, in my opinion. It gets worse from there.
The reporter seemed to smugly take pride in the fact that president's overall approval ratings nationwide had fallen to 42% before the State of the Union Speech. However, what to make of these odd Red-State creatures? How could they possibly still support the president? Looking at the election results of 2004, President Bush received 71.5% of the vote - the highest in the nation. In Utah, the President's approval rating is still at 61%, even with all the hammering and yammering the President has endured that last few months from the media and his political opponents. Looking more closely at the Utah 2004 precinct returns, it was found that Tiny Randolph, Utah, population 480, had given George W. Bush an whopping 95.6% of the vote. So, the Washington Post decided to infiltrate the Reddest town in the Reddest state of America.
The article quotes a Weber State University Professor about the nature of Utah's political philosophy:
"The mind-set of Utah" is how Frank Guliuzza III, chairman of the political science department at Weber State University in Ogden, explains the percentages. Not only is Utah the nation's most Republican state, "there's a sense of loyalty and patriotism that kind of overcomes the tendency toward cynicism that is evident in the rest of the country right now," he says.Boy now, there's an indictment! Imagine having a sense of loyalty and patriotism! What will these red-staters come up with next?
Then the reporter, David Finkel, makes this sneering observation about the people of Randolph:
"In Randolph, though -- where Bush received 95.6 percent of the vote and support for him continues to be nearly unanimous -- the mind-set is even more specific to a place that seems less a part of the modern United States than insulated from it."Finkel rubs his eyes in disbelief! Why the residents of Randolph really aren't like Americans at all! They're not just isolated -- they're from a different planet! Now that we have established that the people of Randolph don't really count, because they are aliens from outer space after all -- their thoughts and ideas don't count either (except at the ballot box, Mr. Finkel!).
The reporter then gives us a litany of reasons why the rubes in Randolph just can't comprehend what is really going on in the world:
"There have been no funerals here from Bush's war on terrorism. There are no unemployment lines, no homeless people sleeping in doorways, no sick people being turned away from a hospital because of a lack of insurance, no crime to speak of . . . "Well, having been a resident of Randolph myself, let me take a look at a few of these "accusations."
- No Funerals here from Bush's war on terrorism.
- No Unemployment Lines
- No homeless people sleeping in doorways
- No sick people being turned away from a hospital because of a lack of insurance
- No Crime to Speak of
The reporter then hangs out the local cafe, Gator's Drive-in, to interview customers as they come in.
As customers come to order their fast-food items, the reporter asks their opinion on various political issues, hoping that they will "Blame Bush" for their troubles.
A 53-year old woman, Debra McKinnon stops by the drive-in to pick up her order. Finkel quizzes her about health care issues. Debra reports that she nearly dropped dead 9 months ago from heart failure. She now has to take 12 pills a day which cost her several hundred dollars a month. Does she blame President Bush for her health care woes? No. This is what Debra McKinnon said:
"It's a problem from the drug companies to the lawyers to the doctors to Congress, and it's not because Bush isn't a caring man. I think he's a very caring man. I think he's a decent, God-fearing person, and I hope we are, too."Drat! Finkel strikes out on that one!
Blair Hurd, the high school shop teacher comes in. The reporter tries to get him to express his outrage at President Bush's program to monitor terrorist communications that originate outside of our country. The reporter likes to call it "Domestic Spying". Mr. Hurd gives his answer:
"This whole thing with domestic spying? I think there's a little bit of it that needs to go on. I do! And if he" -- meaning Bush -- "is listening to my calls? I'm not doing anything wrong. Why would I care? He'd be bored to death is what I think."Hmmm. . . Strike Two!
Next comes 77 year-old Lois McClean, the mother-in-law of the owner of Gator's drive-in. The topic of health care comes up again.
Lois works part time at the drive-in to help supplement her income . . . "because Social Security isn't quite enough to finance her modest life. "I think he's doing a good job," she says, her voice hoarse from having a tube pushed down her throat. That happened when she went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled and she suddenly stopped breathing, and then passed out. She woke up in the hospital emergency room, where, once she was stable, the dentist finished yanking out the tooth."Nooooooooooo! Not actual praise for the President! Nooooooooooo! Not someone who actually believes in personal responsibility, and trying to make her own life better! Why imagine if everyone thought to be self-reliant. What would the government do then! Oh, the horrors! The article continues:
"Adapt to your circumstances, she says. That's what the dentist did, that's what Bush has done, and that's what she tries to do, too. "I myself have to make my life better," she says."
"Bush's believers: One after another, in they come to say "It's not Bush's fault" and "He's trying to protect us," and on this goes until early evening, when what must be the entire population of Randolph gathers at the high school to cheer on the basketball teams."Strike Three! -- You're Outta Here!
Finally, Finkel has heard enough, he picks up his marbles, and goes home! Despite his best efforts, he couldn't get even one customer at Gator's to blame their troubles on President Bush. He climbs into his rental car, pops in a CD, and shakes his head in astonished disbelief.
Now if only he can find his way back to his home planet!