Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Courtland Milloy’s Excellent Adventure
I like to consider myself a person of a fairly diverse geographic and cultural background. I’ve lived a lot of places and seen many more. I understand what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.
Let me begin by saying I applaud the Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy for actually getting on a plane, departing the beltway and visiting a place most political pundits refer to as “fly-over country”. Mr. Milloy’s dateline for his latest column gives his location as none other than the Crossroads of the West – Salt Lake City, Utah.
In the interest of full disclosure, though I do not presently call Salt Lake City my home, my ancestral roots in Utah date back to Brother Brigham’s decent through Emigration Canyon. I spent a good chunk of my formative years there and finished my undergraduate education at Brigham Young University.
Mr. Milloy’s headline “Liberty, Justice and Representation for All” draws a parallel between the never ending quest of the District of Columbia for voting representation in Congress and Utah’s quest for a fourth seat in the US House of Representatives. DC has made this a perennial issue – to the point most DC license plates are emblazoned with the complaint TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.
Utah, on the other hand, should have been awarded an additional congressional seat in the last census. Had the Census Bureau actually counted all the people in Utah the way it was supposed to, Mr. Milloy would have to find something else to complain about. You see, at any given time, 10,000-20,000 Utahns are serving missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in foreign countries. While the Census allows for the counting of citizens living abroad for reasons such as the Peace Corps and Military service, religious service is not recognized. In the 2000 Census, the non-counting of foreign serving missionaries made the difference in congressional representation. So much for counting everybody.
So Mr. Milloy left the beltway cocoon and ventured to Utah. He spent a good chunk of his time talking to a BYU political science professor after having vainly searched for a “black barbershop” in Provo. He fills his column inches with wide generalizations and cooks statistics to paint Utah in a bad light while highlighting what ever good side of DC he can find.
C’mon, Courtland. You honestly expect anyone to believe DC rates #2 among places people want to live in? Who paid off Places Rated Almanac anyway?
Utah is a very red state. It is run by Republicans who think if a fourth seat is awarded, the other three districts would have to be rearranged in order to accommodate the fourth congressional district. This troubles Democrats, because they fear Jim Matheson – Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress – would be redistricted out of a job. Matheson’s district is drawn in such a way that nearly all Utah democrats have a chance to vote for him. So, redistricting and a fourth seat in congress would give a +2 advantage to Republicans whilst only giving a +1 to Pelosi and Company. There is a serious possibility that Nancy and her fellow Congressional Jackasses will give DC the middle finger and deep six the potential DC congress seat to avoid giving any advantage to the GOP.
Mr. Milloy’s solution? Utah should defer to DC and abstain from rocking the congressional boat. By so suggesting (and in a way demanding), Mr. Milloy shows his utter lack of understanding any point of view other than his own. Congressional districts are drawn by the states. DC’s desire for congressional representation can have no bearing on the way Utah congressional districts are drawn, nor which party ends up winning the new seat. This leaves aside the fact the US Constitution limits congressional representation to states. No other territory, district, or other US holding has a voting member in Congress. If DC really wants voting members in Congress, it should try to acquire statehood like all the other states did.
Milloy also shows his lack of historical understanding. Utah exists as a state today because of the lack of attention paid to US citizens who attempted to petition their government for a redress of grievances back in the early 1800s. Utahn’s don’t take kindly to an eastern-mentality pundit telling them how they should run their state. What he calls “petty political calculations” are actually pretty important to them.
And, personally, I found Milloy’s comparison of the grandeur of Utah’s mountains to the National Mall in DC to be rather hollow. How can anyone compare the spectacular Wasatch mountain range – put in place by the hand of God - soaring miles into the air and stretching for thousands of miles to an area of 309.17 acres built by the hands of men to honor men’s achievements in God’s Country? I guess Milloy suffers from the same affliction which causes men to look upon their creations and call them “majestic” while God creates a mountain and simply calls it “good.”
Memo to Courtland Milloy: Your column shows you need to get out more. Feel free to return to the state of Utah – I’m sure it would do you good. Remember, if DC loses out on a congressional seat, it will have little to do with the scheming Utah Republicans. DC’s congressperson will be denied by Congressional Jackasses more interested in clinging to power than actually representing the people. Chew on that for awhile. And, while I can’t find you a “black barbershop” in Provo, next time you pass through town, look up Gary Dayton. He’ll take good care of you.
Here endeth the lesson.