Message from our New Chair

I am a naturalized citizen, perhaps that gives me a different prospective of the American political scene. I remember when I was in Chile as a child, listening to the BBC World Service on my dad’s shortwave radio to a man that I knew to be the President of the US as he spoke to his country with startling clarity:

“The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

I was struck with the man … the myth and the legend; Jackie O’s husband! It was JFK’s birthday yesterday. I was so enthralled.

When Pinochet quelled the miner’s revolt in our local town, by the soldiers shooting in air, I knew that was not what Jackie O’s husband meant. When the “carabineros” chased a man from the Chilean side to the Expats side to beat him to a pulp; I knew that was not what Jackie O’s husband meant. I questioned why we had two sides of the company camp; I knew that was wrong. We were in Chile not a country called “Expat.”

The shortwave radio gave me another insight into America; the landing on the moon, what Neil told the President “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”. In my 13 year old mind, Jackie O’s husband was still the president.

In college I was the champion of the underdog. I railed against South Africa, Pinochet, the Queen, Maggie Thatcher, the Vietnam War, Nazism and all righteous causes that students find.

When my parents came to America, I was on the plane to visit this America! I visited Disneyland, Tooele and Las Vegas. What a skewed view. A year later I started the process, sponsored by my parents, to come to America.

In 1981 I immigrated. Ronald Reagan was the president, Jackie O was a widow again and Jimmy Carter was not appreciated. He was the man that built houses for “Habitat for Humanity”! Then I started to listen to the political conversation. I continued listening to the political conversation through Reagan and George H. Bush. I now venture to say they both were centrist. Clinton was refreshing, vibrant, energetic and charismatic. I suffered the George W. Bush years vocally and with much embarrassment; this was not the American of the shortwave radio.

The political conversation was starting to get acrimonious and heated, even at the County level.
I spoke against gravel pits, nuclear waste, county roads that lead to nowhere and for impact fees for the developer that where not paying for their impact on the services.

But, what did I know about acrimony and discontent; I heard the spewing and objections to President Obama, the Health Care Reform Act, the railing of the Tea Parties, Banks too big to fail, Tooele County’s mismanagement.

The “shortwave radio America” of my childhood is very tarnished. I still hold on to the hope that congress will pass a budget, even though it is 1200 some odd days late; I hear someone in congress say, “… the Health Care Reform Act is a starting point and now we can make it a better law”; people will listen to Warren Buffet; the companies will relocate to Tooele County even though the Commissioners told them “we are broke” ; and nuclear is not all it is cracked up to be.

Gillian Johns-Young