I have lived in Utah all my life (except for military service). I respect, admire and love the people of this state. They are the salt of the earth — honest, intelligent, friendly and caring — especially those in rural Utah who live closer to the earth than most of us.
Given my admiration for those who live in this state, I struggle to understand why so many of my neighbors continue to support the current administration in Washington. It must be politics. It cannot be principle. Members of the administration are neither honest, nor intelligent, nor friendly, nor caring. I'm not talking only about the president. He, at least, seems to be friendly. But you have to look at results, not posturing.
It's one thing to respect the office. I applaud those who understand the importance of respect. But respecting the office does not require support for misguided policies of the officeholder.
Here in Utah, we honor the Constitution of the United States. Many consider it an inspired document. But this administration abuses the Constitution as few administrations have done. Instead of vetoing unacceptable legislation — as prescribed by the Constitution — this administration hypocritically approves questionable legislation and then chooses to implement only those portions the administration deems acceptable. So-called "signing statements" are clearly designed to frustrate congressional intent. The Constitution gives Congress the power to make laws, not the president.
The administration also abuses constitutional guarantees when it taps phone calls without judicial authorization, pressures phone companies to deliver records, looks at our bank statements and invades the private space of American citizens. The administration created a prison at Guantanamo solely for the purpose of circumventing constitutional guarantees of fair and speedy trials.
Here in Utah, we regard Sept. 11, 2001, as an unparalleled tragedy. Three thousand human beings had their lives taken from them, most of them Americans. But more young Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan than at the World Trade Center, and at least 3,000 Iraqis die every month; many are innocent women and children. Life is sacred, whether in New York City or Baghdad.
Whether or not one accepts the Iraq war as legitimate, almost everyone agrees that we launched our attack with too few troops, inadequate equipment and little thought about what to do in order to keep that troubled nation viable. Even the president now suggests that our military forces will be required at least until 2009 or 2010. Reserve units, already overused, face at least one or two more rotations in the Middle East.
Here in Utah, we pay our bills and discourage unnecessary debt. This administration has never asked the American people to pay for the war. It will cost between $500 billion and $1 trillion — all of that cost passed on to our children and grandchildren in the form of the highest national debt in history.
My good friends in rural Utah respect and understand science. They rely on it to increase crop yields, improve agricultural practices, and keep their animals healthy. But this administration looks upon science as the enemy. Officials refuse to accept global warming as reality, even though most scientists consider it fact. The administration rejects stem-cell research that might save lives. Research opponents offer political and religious grounds which most of my Utah friends consider absurd. Utah farmers live daily with birth, miscarriage (natural abortion), and failed animal husbandry. They artificially inseminate farm animals, knowing that most of the resulting embryos will be naturally eliminated. I can't imagine Utah farmers thinking it's better to destroy a growing blastocyte than to give those cells meaning through the science of cellular research.
My Utah neighbors are caring, compassionate people. They give more to charity than people in any other state or nation. They volunteer freely when help is needed. But this administration has little compassion — conservative or otherwise — for the needy, for hungry children, for college students struggling to pay tuition, for the elderly, or for single parents who can't provide health insurance for their children.
There are many more examples — from toying with the electoral process, to ignoring the concerns of our allies, to short-changing countless programs designed to move the nation forward.
Utah is a great state. Utah residents are the best people I know. I'm confident they will soon reject partisan politics in favor of Utah principles.
G. Donald Gale is president of Words, Words, Words Inc. He was formerly editorial director at KSL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org