Monday, March 27, 2006

5 Things I Really Don't Love About Utah

I've hesitated a bit about writing this entry because it's impossible to talk about the things I really don't like about my home state without getting political and risk offending some very dear friends. That said, I've decided to write it because it's important to me.

So, what's not to like about Salt Lake? Quite a few things, actually.

Reason 1: The Politics

I could probably write a Top 10 list just about Utah politics, but I won't. I'm a liberal Democrat, Utah is a very conservative Republican state. Naturally I disagree with a lot of positions local politicans take. That's not the biggest problem I have with Utah's political climate, though. My biggest problem is one a lot of people in many states face: the majority party does everything in its power to crush the opinions of the minority party. In Utah's case, that includes gerrymandering the 2nd Congressional District to within an inch of its life, just to unseat Democrat Jim Matheson for no other reason than that he decided to run with a D next to his name rather than an R.

I may be a Democrat, but I strongly believe that our government works best when ALL sides of an argument can be heard. No one party can lay claim to all the solutions to our country's (or our state's) problems. Crushing a minority opinion doesn't just mean that you don't hear the things you don't like, it means that you CAN'T hear good ideas you hadn't thought of before.

Reason 2: Rude People

This reason actually has just as much to do with Utah as it does with rude people outside the state. Whenever people ask me where I'm from, I hesitate for a moment before saying, "Salt Lake City". Mostly this is because I know that inevitably the next question they ask will be "Are you Mormon?" In one way I can understand why people ask, since most Utahns are Mormon and it's considered an "unusual" religion by much of the world, but I still think it's a pretty invasive and personal thing to ask. I'd never ask what someone's religion is because it's one of those questions that's Not Very Polite To Ask a Total Stranger.

A girl I know here in DC (who is Mormon) is routinely asked by people "How many moms do you have?" and once even, "Where are your horns?" Why? Why would someone think those questions are appropriate?

Of course, that's not to say that people in Utah aren't sometimes rude about religion too. There, it's almost understood that if you're clean-cut and friendly, you must be Mormon. The question of whether you "are" or whether you "aren't" becomes part of your identity because every.single.person seems to think that categorizing people according to their membership in one particular church is okay.

Reason 3: The Snow

I'm not a snow person. I don't like to ski, snowboard, or do anything that involves strapping things onto my feet and heading down a hill when there's snow outside. In spite of the kickass ski resorts just 30 minutes from where I grew up, my favorite winter activity to do in Utah remains curling up in front of the fire with a good book and a hot drink. Give me sun, not snow.

Reason 4: High School

Most people who grow up in Utah stay there. Out of my high school graduating class, maybe 20% went to college out of state, and I'd guess that about the same number have permanantly moved away. Thus, it's almost impossible not to run into people I went to high school with at the grocery store, the mall, or a restaurant. Frankly, high school was fun, and I still keep in touch with some of my high school friends, but mostly I'd rather not see the majority of my former classmates on a daily basis.

Reason 5: The Politics Part II

I really can't stress enough how much I dislike local politics in Utah. For everything there is to love about the state, you see stories about how local movie theater/car dealership/Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller pulled the plug on showings of "Brokeback Mountain" hours before they were scheduled to begin at one of his theaters because someone told him that it was about two gay men.

There's also this story that ran on the front page of the Washington Post the morning before President Bush's State of the Union address. It was about Randolph, a small town in Northern Utah where 95% of the city voted for Bush, but virtually no one planned to listen to his plan for the country that evening.

Or this story which ran in the Salt Lake Tribune the week I was in town. The mayor of Kanab (pronounce Kah-nab) Utah attacked a 17 year old high school student for criticizing a controversial city resolution on "natural" families. The mayor even went so far as to write letters of complaint to the boy's church leader and his high school's superintendant.

If nothing else, these stories (and I really could go on and on with more of them, but you get the idea) make Utah look like the backwards state many people think it is. Utah is growing and changing, but the above examples only serve to remind me of why I never really want to move back there.

Okay, that's it for me and politics for now. Next up: T-minus 8 days and counting until my first RE appointment. Will I go completely insane waiting for the next week to pass? Stay tuned.

3 comments:

flip said...

Carolyn,

I am soooooo offended that you don't like the snow here! Don't you know that it is a BLESSING to have the moisture come summer??

Hehe, just kidding. That is why I moved out to the west side of the valley--we only get about a fourth the snow that your parent's area gets (and since it is the "west side" I don't run into many people from the old high school crowd).

--Flip

p.s. I'm glad your b-day got better!
p.p.s. I feel so official now that I have finally posted something to your blog.

Anonymous said...

Utah is what it is. Get over it. I think it's a great place to live and raise a family regardless of your political persuasion or religion. The Democratic Party in Utah has done nothing to help out its situation. Instead of becoming more moderate (i.e., Jim Matheson), most of the party and candidates take on a very confrontational approach (i.e., Rocky Anderson) that just marginalizes the party even more.

Earth to Utah Democrats--get a strategy, get better candidates, and quit complaining.

Conqueror of all said...

You have no idea what it's like to be asked those questions. One of hour biggest rules about being a "Mormon" is Obey the Law of the Land. Polygamy is illegal. People get us confused with others. We are "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" The Reformed Church are the ones that practice polygamy. There is also the Reorganized church. So if anyone is bashing us, make sure you correct them. Also "Mormons" is slang we do not call ourselves that. We are "Latter-day Saints".
If you have any questions go to a Latter-day Saint friend and ask them. Also ask for a Book of Mormon. Before you read it pray and ask God if this book is true. I asure you it will change your life. It is a history of the american people on this continent from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D. It also talks about when Christ was ressurected and came over here and visited the american people (Native Americans) after he visited the people across the ocean in Jerusalem. Good Luck!