“They’re here.” Just like the evil spirits in the movie Poltergeist, our very own group of malevolent legislators is back to shock, terrorize and dismay with their antics up the hill at the State House.
Utah State Legislators are back for another session, and they have to be some of the dumbest, most ideological bunch of yahoos out there. Now, it’s true that there are lots of other dumb-ass yahoo state legislators in the US, but the Utah bunch brings their very own brand of right wing, tea party, religious, gun crazy kind of yahooism.
Case in point. During last years session, the Republican dominated Utah State Legislature passed a bill proclaiming global warming a hoax.
Not to be upstaged, Mother Nature this winter decided to to send Utah a little message of her own. Salt Lake City, dependent on snowpack for water, had the driest December on record.
Maybe reality really does have a “liberal bias.”
Still, there is definitely a method to their madness. Climate change threatens the world view of the right wing ideologues who run the Utah Legislature. Essentially, they see the idea of global warming as a communist plot to redistribute wealth, and limit the dirty fossil-fuel energy corporations that are their biggest supporters.
They are correct to view climate change as an epochal threat to modern neoliberal capitalism. To deal with the challenge of climate change we will have to curtail globalized free trade and live in a much more local manner. We will have to redistribute wealth from polluting countries to those affected. And we will have to radically curtail corporate power. All these things are anethema to Utah conservatives.
Even more threatening is the thought that governments would have to lead any response to climate change, taking power from the private sector and evoking the threat of communism that keeps Utah State legislators up at night. The reason that the threat of communism evokes such fear and loathing in Utah is related to the fact that he Utah State Legislature is made up primarily of Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormons have been fervent anti-communists since early cold-war days, with key leaders in the church leadership belonging to the John Birch Society. Even before, there was a deep antipathy towards labor movements in Utah. Who, the fuck, do you think killed Joe Hill?
Certainly, anti-communism is not unique to Utah. Anti-communism is a salient, unmentioned factor in local and national politics. Yet, Utah has a special blend of anti-communism that will be a topic for future posts.