I love living in Utah. I was born here, raised here, and moved back here after living away because I like it here so much. The scenery is spectacular, the cost of living is low, the liquor laws are not half as weird as the rest of the world thinks they are, and, for the most part, the Mormon's exercise don't bug people who don't bug them. It's a nice place to live. Over the past five years, with the election of Jon Huntsman Jr. to the position of Governor, it got even nicer. Despite his Republican status, Huntsman pushed for equal rights for everyone, even gays and lesbians, the loosening of liquor laws, and energy efficiency in order to battle global warming. Sadly, those days are over now.
Earlier this summer Huntsman was tapped to take the post of U.S. Ambassador to China. He took the job, leaving the state in the hands of previous Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert. I swear that the day Herbert was sworn in to office the calendars here in the state turned back to 1986. You see, Herbert is not only a good old boy, he is the king of the good old boys. He is a big believer in "traditional family values" -- most of which were last updated when Reagan was in office.
Thursday Herbert showed his true colors for the first time. During a press conference he said he thought giving gays and lesbians legal protection from discrimination was "going too far." He said that while he supports protecting people due to their gender, religion, or race, the line has to be drawn somewhere, or else we will end up giving protected status to everyone, even those with "blonde hair and blue eyes." Yeah, that's similar.
The gay issue is only the tip of the iceberg. Herbert has said in the past that he doesn't believe in global warming. He has also said he supports economic growth in the state, which could include increasing mining rights. Oh, and he has said that he doesn't want to raise taxes, but would rather find ways to cut programs -- like education. Basically he is saying that he wants to undo anything progressive that has happened not only under Huntsman, but under his predecessor (an education supporter) as well.
Surprisingly, I am not mad at Herbert about any of this. I am actually pissed at Huntsman.
You see, Herbert has never pretended to be anything but what he is. If he could have had a sash made that read "good old boy" I am sure that he would have. Yet, Huntsman, a progressive, picked him as his running mate -- and then left him in charge. He had to know that all of his pet causes, the environment, equal rights, would be crushed under the wheels of Herbert's RV, yet he walked away. Oh, and as he walked away he promised he was leaving the state in good hands. Well, I guess they are good. You know, in the ways reruns of "Leave it to Beaver" are good.
Maybe though, this is Huntsman's last progressive act. Maybe he knows what will happen when Utahns have a taste of what could be, and then have it taken away. Maybe he's really a closet Democrat.
At least I hope that's what it is. It's the only way I will make it until the special election in 2010. By then I am almost positive acid wash denim will have come back in style. After all, it only fits...