A one-horse raceJun 06, 2022 11:51AM ● By Peri Kinder
When I was in eighth grade, I was elected to the class senate. In ninth grade, I was elected as a cheerleader. Did I deserve these titles? Probably not. But I’d bribed fellow students with copious amounts of candy because that’s the American way.
After a series of decidedly terrible life choices, my scholastic career drove off the rails and I never ran for election again. When I turned 18, I registered to vote and I’ve cast a vote in every election since. I also respond to Twitter polls, fill out Amazon reviews and take surveys at the bottom of yard-long Kohl’s receipts.
Now that I’m a semi-functioning adult, it’s up to me to choose the right people to lead us into the future. Since the future is nuclear bomb-shaped, we won’t need leaders much longer, but elections are important, at least until that mushroom cloud rises over the mountains.
Here’s why voting is funny. You’ll get a kick out of this. When I vote for new leadership or more progressive ideas, the person/issue I’m voting for rarely wins. Why? Because I live in conservative Utah.
People tell me to just move to a different state. I don’t want to. At least not until I can afford a lighthouse on the East Coast where I can replace the light bulb with a bat signal.
So, for now, I’m here in Utah, voting for things that matter to me and to many other people, without a Popsicle’s chance in hell of it working out.
In fact, we started an election night drinking game. For every winner who isn’t a conservative white male, we take a shot of tequila. We’ve been sober for decades. Because here’s the truth: My vote rarely counts in Utah.
Oh, our esteemed leaders say my vote counts, but they know it’s a lie. With their abstract-painting, gerrymandered districts they’ve effectively shut down my voice. I feel all I can do is sit back with a bucket of chicken and wait for the Red State hate laws to take effect across the country.
Sure, I can protest, but not too loud, right? I wouldn’t want to sound shrill. I reach out to my U.S. senators and representatives and get a form letter in response. The vast majority of my state leaders are conservative white men, afraid of losing control.
I admire the elected women in Utah, fighting in the trenches for women’s rights, access to healthcare, gun control, and education. That’s a difference I see between male and female roles: men want power, women want to lead.
After being mansplained to since birth, I understand my female brain can’t comprehend the problems involved with running the state. Like, how can our leaders make money if we don’t let them relocate a prison across the valley so they can develop prime property? How can the state generate revenue on alcohol without ridiculous licensing fees and policies? How can we possibly treat educators, minorities, or uteruses with respect, without creating laws to rein them in?
And then they have the gall to say, vote in the leaders you want. How? Tell me how and I’ll do it! Phew. I must be off my anti-hysterical meds.
If I learned anything from running for office in junior high, it’s that voters will follow the candy. But as a female voter in Utah, I’m tired of the sugary-sweet, syrupy condescension.