Channeling Esther

Meet Diane Bailey, president of the BYU College Democrats and organizer of the Cheney protest. Today the Deseret News published a fabulous profile on this woman. Click here read it. (It brought back fond memories of the Young Democrats club at my Utah Valley high school. We had four members. Two of them — now married to each other — were at my wedding; seems we didn’t accomplish much else besides enduring relationships . . . no televised protests or anything . . .)

The article begins:

PROVO — Last semester, weekly meetings of the College Democrats club at Brigham Young University drew three or four people.

Diane Bailey, president of BYU's College Democrats, seeks to show that Democrats can still be good church members. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)

Diane Bailey, president of BYU’s College Democrats, seeks to show that Democrats can still be good church members.

The club shot out of obscurity this month when new club president Diane Bailey organized an on-campus political protest to criticize the record of Vice President Dick Cheney, who will be BYU’s commencement speaker on Thursday. Bailey will oversee a second campus demonstration hours before Cheney speaks.
The remarkable sight of a sit-in on the private, religious and — most important to national and international media — largely conservative campus thrust Bailey into a spotlight that spawned an invitation from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
An appearance on the Comedy Central cable TV hit would be a huge honor for most American college students, but it’s one Bailey ultimately turned down.
That decision illustrated the fine line Bailey has walked since BYU announced that the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had invited Cheney to speak at the church’s flagship school, where Bailey teaches a Sunday School class in her student congregation.
The 20-year-old student from Alamo, Calif., has balanced a delicate set of values as a Democrat protesting Cheney’s actions while ardently trying to protect her school and church from ridicule or negative press.
She’s been a little like a circus elephant teetering on a little stool.
Better make that a donkey.

I’ve always liked the civic dimension of Esther’s story — and it’s good to see women (from any party) taking up the call to challenge perceived political abuse; to balance faith, conscience, and love of country. Kudos to you, Diane. (I’ll miss seeing you on the Daily Show, but I understand your decision.)


Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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No Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Thanks for this heads up, Deborah. It’s been interesting (and heartening for me) to watch these developments at BYU over the last month or two. Good for Diane!

    Have you heard that hundreds of students are planning to attend an alternate Commencement? I believe they’re trying to get Ralph Nader.

  2. Deborah says:

    Looks like they did it!

    So cool!

  3. AmyB says:

    Hooray for women who speak out and make their voices heard!

    It made my day to see that their plans for the alternative commencement have been successful.

  4. amelia says:

    that’s fabulous that they were able to organize all of this. if i lived in provo or salt lake, i would have made an effort to attend the alternative commencement.

    and i think it’s great that bailey has been so involved (even if i would have accepted the daily show invite had i been in her shoes…).

    i must say however that it bothers me that it’s seen as such a balancing act to be democrat and mormon. i’m not a democrat; i’m registered independent at the moment. but i am liberal and i agree with a lot of the democratic platform. and i honestly don’t find it much of a balancing act.

  5. Deborah says:

    Amelia: I think it’s much more of a balancing act in Utah County than in the rest of the LDS world . . . that’s been true for me, at least.

  6. amelia says:

    perhaps that’s true. the insular nature of the lds world can in some ways be exaggerated there. although, it’s not always. sometimes the sheer numbers of mormons there creates a kind of anonymity that i do not experience in church in other places. although my experience in utah valley has always been with student singles wards, which are likely a bit different from family wards.

    i think what bothers me is that this article and bailey’s reported attitude seems to endorse the idea that it’s a balancing act to be both democrat and mormon. i don’t think it’s any more a balancing act to be democrat and mormon than it is to be republican and mormon when we’re talking in terms of political belief, rather than social pressure.

  7. Deborah says:

    “i don’t think it’s any more a balancing act to be democrat and mormon than it is to be republican and mormon when we’re talking in terms of political belief, rather than social pressure.”

    I found it to be almost *purely* a social-pressure balancing act. Self-identifying as a Democrat in middle and high school forced me to endure a certain amount of flak from classmates — from good-natured (I was a very socially secure kid) to occasionally passionately confrontational. It was great training in debate and public speaking, though!

    That said, I hear you on the tone of the article. It’s a great profile of Diane, but I weary of the “Oh wow — here’s an interesting specimin” tone that sometimes follows the coverage of faithful LDS Democrats.

  8. EmilyCC says:

    I never thought about the civic dimension of the Esther story–what good food for thought!

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