Amy Roberts: Delegating thanks
April 30, 2014
Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is more than half a calendar away, this weekend I found myself thinking about the holiday quite a bit. Mostly about how interesting (if not sometimes painful) the conversation at my parent’s dinner table can be on that fourth Thursday in November.
I usually fly home to Nebraska and spend the holiday with my family. And because Thanksgiving falls just a few weeks after a November election, my dad and I tend to spend the four-day weekend bantering about politics. As we comment on who won what race, inevitably, my dad gets riled up and without fail will loudly exclaim: "We need term limits!" And without fail I always respond, "Dad, we have term limits. They’re called elections."
And while the next election is almost as far away as Thanksgiving, that didn’t stop Utah’s political parties from getting ready for the big feast. Last Saturday, the table was set for the Democrats, and the Republicans chose their turkey.
I’m proud to have played a small part in the process. Both parties held their state conventions over the weekend and I attended the Democratic Convention, where I was a delegate for Donna McAleer. She’s running for Congress against six-term incumbent Rob Bishop, who allegedly represents Summit County in Washington.
I say "allegedly" because this is the same guy who co-sponsored House Resolution 3 seeking to redefine rape, who voted to shut down the federal government (and by extension Utah’s national parks and monuments). He’s the same guy who backed a bill aimed at protecting those who discriminate against same-sex couples and is seemingly committed to giving our public lands to the highest bidder. I don’t know many Park City residents, or frankly rational, decent, and educated adults, who support these kinds of initiatives. But anyway, after all is gerrymandered and done, Rob Bishop represents me.
And that’s exactly why I gave up my Saturday and spent the day in Salt Lake City. Because I want someone else in Congress speaking for me. And more importantly, someone who listens to me before speaking on my behalf.
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I’ve never been a delegate, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But I wanted to learn more about the process and be part of it, so I agreed. I’m glad I did. It was refreshing and energizing to be surrounded by like-minded people, who I can sometimes forget live here too. I often think of Park City as an isolated island of blue surrounded by a sea of red. So I was pleasantly surprised to see places like Sevier and Utah counties with strong representation at the Democratic Convention.
I met people from around the state who share the same progressive beliefs I do. As I chatted with one man from Tooele, he told me he was a bishop. Naturally I assumed he was sent on behalf of his brother to spy and was just about ready to call security. But he clarified he was a bishop of the LDS variety. Which then led me to assume he was there trying to convert all of us.
Patiently he explained to me he was an LDS liberal. Which kind of made me feel like I was having a conversation with a yeti. "So they don’t check your voter registration before granting you a temple recommend card?" I asked.
He said he decided to be a delegate because he believes in the same things I do: Love is love, no matter your gender. Clean air is vital, and we can do something about it. Women have the right to choose what they do with their bodies, and they should certainly be paid the same amount of money as men for performing the same jobs. He even said he believes in a sound separation of church and state. (Seriously, by this point I was looking for the unicorn he rode in on.)
More than anything, meeting this man and having this conversation gave me hope. There are a lot of people in this great state that believe Utah can do better. People who believe we can turn this very red state the slightest shade of purple.
It might be several months until Thanksgiving, but right now, I’m full of thanks for these people. And I hope right before the holiday we collectively tell Rob Bishop he’s reached his term limit.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.