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Firmage: Reality is shouting

Published December 22, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

November's humiliating electoral defeat, which came despite a dismal economy that ordinarily would have cost the incumbent his job, should have roused even today's Republicans from their daydreams.

But it has not, not if the Dec. 13 op-ed by Utah Republican party activist Don Guymon is any indication. Don and his friends in national Republican leadership are still dozing.

Indicative of this ideologically induced narcosis is the Republican Party's failure to face reality even as the luxury liner of Mitt Romney's candidacy was approaching its iceberg.

In the weeks leading up to the election, pollster after pollster predicted that Romney would lose the Electoral College, and by a substantial margin. Unfazed, Republican cheerleaders like Karl Rove continued to tout the "special momentum" that would sweep Mitty into the White House. The numbers won.

The numbers suggest that Republicans lost the White House not because people love Barack Obama, but because they distrust the Republican Party. In embarrassingly lopsided percentages, minorities, women and young people — the fastest growing voting blocs — flocked to the polls to vote against the Republicans.

They voted against economic policies that benefit only the rich, against the arrogance of wealth that views half of all Americans — retirees, vets and students, among others — as spongers.

They voted against patriarchal and patronizing attitudes towards women, against cruelty towards homosexuals and against Republican refusal to embrace diversity.

They voted against energy policies that ignore climate change and the health effects of fossil fuels.

They voted against the denial of science, the denial of geology and the age the of the earth, the denial of biology and the effects of rape, the denial of climate science and the disaster that looms on the horizon, not just of New Jersey's shores but of every place on earth.

The schooling of conservatives continued with Superstorm Sandy. Republican politicians like New Jersey governor and darling of the Right, Chris Christie, who have made careers out of bashing the federal government, had to eat crow as they begged for, and received, massive federal aid. Sandy was one in a series of reminders of the necessary role of the federal government.

It was also a reminder that climate change is not a U.N. conspiracy or a jobs works program for scientists but a present reality that we ignore at our peril.

But this is not the end of the schooling. In last week's Salt Lake Tribune, we read that women in Utah earn 55 cents for every dollar that men do for comparable labor. Utah ranks last in the nation, not only in the way we fund our children's education but in the way we treat more than half of the workplace.

Why is this? Why is it that the state that supported Mitt Romney more than any other — the state where Mitt garnered not just 73 percent of the total popular vote but 85-90 percent of the rural Mormon heartland — is also the state that gives women the least respect in the workplace?

My question answers itself. In Utah we see what happens when the Republican Party enjoys a monopoly of power. We see what happens when the Republican Party, already overidentified with conservative Christian "values," is completely identified with one particular Christian faith.

Don Guymon believes his party's problems are the result of compromising on conservative principles.

The numbers suggest something different: that Republican principles are based in a denial of reality, the reality of an increasingly diverse and progressive populace, and the reality of a natural world that has no qualms about trashing cherished fantasies about how the world works.

Reality is speaking — shouting — Don. When will you listen?

Ed Firmage Jr. is a Salt Lake fine arts photographer.