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Why The Political Conversations In Utah Are About Voting Blue Or Independent

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Here's how the presidential candidates polled this week in one U.S. state - Hillary Clinton - 26 percent; Donald Trump - 26 percent, which means there's still a lot of room left for other candidates. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, an independent conservative, are polling in the double digits in this state. And this state is Utah, a state that usually votes for Republican presidential candidates.

And so for today's political chat with people who are not in politics, we're joined by someone who really knows Utah. C. Jane Kendrick is a columnist and blogger. She joins us now from Provo, Utah. Ms. Kendrick, thanks very much for being with us.

C. JANE KENDRICK: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: We will begin by noting - I guess you're openly supporting Hillary Clinton.

KENDRICK: I am, yes.

SIMON: But what kind of political conversations have you been having this year?

KENDRICK: Oh, it's been rough to be a Hillary Clinton supporter in Utah. But that's not different from what we're used to. You know, it almost feels like here we are at the end and things are imploding in the Trump campaign and you almost think, OK, maybe we can get people to look at Hillary as a viable choice. And then along comes Evan McMullin and starts to steal that Mormon vote away. And he - I think he has ideas that make people feel very safe here.

SIMON: What have personal conversations been like for you this election year? Are there friendships that have broken up, marriages that have broken up or at least been put in the deep freeze?

KENDRICK: Yes, so, you know, when I think about how people feel about Hillary here in Utah, it's not simply that they disagree with her. It's that they hate her. I think there's a character assassination that happened in the 1990s, long before she ever ran and I think long before Bill was president, that started with questioning women's roles and gender roles. I think she really pushed Utah's buttons.

SIMON: Well, what about what about the other major party candidate?

KENDRICK: Donald Trump.

SIMON: That's the guy.

KENDRICK: I think that there was, at the beginning, a desire to just vote along party lines. And, you know, we're loyalists here to the Republican Party. And it was interesting to me that all along the way people were saying, oh, man, it's awful. He's awful. He's an awful choice, but Supreme Court - and, you know, there was all these reasons why you could still vote for him. But then when the tapes came out and the allegations came out, I think it just all fell apart here. I mean, you simply can't, as a Mormon, defend that.

SIMON: May I ask, have you always had these political inclinations or has it been building?

KENDRICK: Absolutely not. I grew up with very active political parents, very conservative. And I think it was when Obama was running against Mitt Romney, that's when I kind of woke up politically because I started to feel like there was this assumption that I was going to vote for Mitt Romney because he was Mormon. And that really ate at me. I really needed to sit down and figure that out. And when all was said and done, I came out as a Democrat, which was surprising to me. I also grew up as a Hillary hater. You know, that's - that was one of the languages that I learned as a teenager, was how to hate Hillary Clinton.

SIMON: Wow, why?

KENDRICK: I think she just - she poses a huge threat to the system that works in Utah. I think she poses a threat to the patriarchal system. She poses a threat to gender roles. Everything that I was taught to hold dear is the opposite of what Hillary has - who she is, except for, you know, being a grandmother and a mother, which I think a lot of women here, in my past, growing up, would say perhaps she didn't do enough of that.

SIMON: I am struck by something I gather you wrote after the Boston Marathon bombing. And you talked about how difficult it was to rear children at a time like this and wrote, quote, "the world is rotting with tragedy and hate."

KENDRICK: Yeah, it can feel that way, if we focus on it, I think. And this is sort of what I think is happening - and we've seen happen with Obama's presidency - is that it's waking us up. It certainly woke us up to racism. So many of us did not understand racism until now. And I think about having a female president and how that's going to wake us up to the sexism that has been so pervasive forever. And I think it's going to be painful.

And I think as a country we're going to have to have uncomfortable conversations. And I think whatever this is that's bubbling to the top in this election is going to have to be sifted through and completely pulled apart 'cause I don't even know how aware we are of what we're saying and what we're doing. I don't even know if people understood sexual assault in the last week like they understand it now, how pervasive it is, how many women understand sexual assault?

SIMON: Going to vote?

KENDRICK: I'm going to vote. I'm going to vote early. I'm telling - I'm going to vote early so I make sure that that's over and done with. And then I'm going to turn my TV off.

SIMON: C. Jane Kendrick is a writer in Provo, Utah. Thanks so much for being with us.

KENDRICK: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.