TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

From Utah, with Love

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, 9:17 p.m.
 

SALT LAKE CITY

A specter is haunting the Congressional Black Caucus — integration.

It is discomforting enough that the now 43-member CBC has included a Republican since 2011, when Florida's Allen West became the first Republican to join the CBC since 1997. South Carolina's Tim Scott, also black, also came to Congress in 2011 but declined to join.

And soon a second might move in. There goes the neighborhood.

Mia Love, 37, is running against incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson, 52, in a district created when the 2010 census gave a fourth representative to this booming state.

Love is black but Haitian. She was born in Brooklyn in 1975 to immigrants who arrived with $10. On her father's wages as a janitor and a factory worker and her mother's as a housekeeper, she got through the University of Hartford. In Connecticut, she met her husband — he is a Mormon, as she now is and 62 percent of Utahans are.

Fourteen years ago, they moved to this state, where blacks were about 1 percent of the population before Love arrived and had three children. In 2009, she was elected mayor of Saratoga Springs, a suburb of 18,000 that grew 1,700 percent between its incorporation in 1997 and the housing crash in 2008, after which Mayor Love governed like this: When constituents said they needed a library, she found $10,000 and suggested volunteers do the rest: “I intended to see if they really wanted a library.” They have one.

Two-thirds of the voters in the new district have never voted for Matheson, whose home is not in the district. There is, however, no constitutional requirement that a representative live where he runs, and as a sixth-generation Utahan and the son of a popular two-term governor, he has considerable strengths as he seeks a seventh term.

Utah may be the most Republican state and Matheson is one of the Democrat congressmen representing especially Republican districts. But Utah has seemed to like having a token Democrat in its delegation in Washington, where Matheson, after graduating from Harvard, worked for Speaker Tip O'Neill. Matheson is a member of the dwindling Blue Dog caucus of moderate Democrats and voted against ObamaCare, cap-and-trade and the DREAM Act immigration measure for children of illegal immigrants. This year he voted to repeal ObamaCare (previously he voted against that) but has announced he will vote for Barack Obama.

Love is energetic and eclectically principled: If elected, she surely will be the only House member whose Kindle contains works by Frederic Bastiat, the French free-market thinker.

In this, one of the most racially and culturally homogenous states, the only uninteresting thing about Love is that she is black. This is not just progress; it is the destination toward which progress was directed during the brisk march to today's healthy indifference to the fact that Love would be the first black Republican woman ever in the House. Some “stalemate.”

In March 2008, in the speech ostensibly explaining the inexplicable — his 20 years in the pews of the raving Rev. Jeremiah Wright — candidate Barack Obama referred to “a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years.” Hardly.

He was then eight months from winning 43 percent of the white vote — two points more than John Kerry won four years earlier. Obama carried three states — three more than Kerry — of the Confederacy (Florida, Virginia and North Carolina). In states outside the South, Obama received substantially more white votes than any Democrat candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 — more than Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton or Al Gore. This is part of the “racial stalemate” in which Mississippi has more black elected officials — not more relative to population; more — than any other state.

George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
  2. Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
  3. Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
  4. Plum man, 21, accused of attempted homicide
  5. Former Lower Burrell couple to stand trial for animal cruelty
  6. Homestead-Duquesne Road closure postponed
  7. New Kensington considers seal-coat for roads
  8. Private schools fill void in driver education in Western Pennsylvania
  9. Washington County judge says heroin addicts fare better in treatment than prison
  10. Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
  11. Bridge replacement sends Fawn motorists on detours