Saturday, February 02, 2008

BYU Democrats in National Spotlight

From Thursday's Washington Post:

PROVO, Utah -- The BYU College Democrats assembled Monday night in Diane Bailey's apartment to watch the State of the Union address. Like so many college kids in America, they weren't going to sit through a SOTU speech without turning it into a drinking game. So it was that every time the president said a certain word ("terror," "enemy," "evil") or mangled the language ("nucular," "Zimbawe"), they bolted down a beverage. Of course, as Mormons, they had to stick to soda. They ingested heroic, indeed sickening, quantities of root beer, ginger ale and 7-Up, even the rather edgy Mountain Dew.

They got louder as the speech grew longer.

"Terrorist!" (Gulp.) "Evil!!" (Glug.) "Nine-eleven!" (Burp.) When the president named America's greatest enemy, the students roared -- "Osama bin Laden!" -- and, as stipulated in the rules, ran outside to roll in the snow.

Brigham Young University is run by the Mormon Church and may have the most conservative campus in the country. Provo has been called America's most conservative city. You'd think a Democrat around here would be about as hard to find as Sasquatch. "It's the same as being a conservative at Berkeley," said Hyrum Salmond, a junior.

What's amazing about Utah this year is not so much the presence of outspoken Democrats, but the fact that the state is on the national radar to begin with. As one of the Super Tuesday states that will hold primaries Feb. 5, Utah is finally in play.

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