Friday, March 07, 2008

Moderation in Utah Politics

Some of the events of this past legislative session have made me reflect heavily on my party affiliation, and the ways that public policy decisions are (or should be) made. I have been officially affiliated with the Republican party since my 18th birthday, I was picked as a delegate to the state Republican convention that year (in that convention we started Merrill Cook on the road to his short jaunt in Congress). During the past 12 or more years I have drifted from politically apathetic to interested and somewhat between. My views have likewise varied -- I have been near the point of right wing extremism, and have drifted back to the center of the isle. This last session has made it very clear that we need to take a much harder look at the individuals we elect as our local legislative representatives.


One major problem that Utah Republicans have is their tendency to view public policy debates only through the lens of their own moral and religious views. While it is good to be moral and religious, using such a narrow lens to establish public policy may tend to produce harsh and punishing results for anyone whose moral scope falls outside that of the pious policy makers. The phrase "moderation in all things," and "(do not) run faster than you have strength" would be helpful in forming Utah policy towards social and moral issues. Do not let the morals of the masses create tyranny towards the (religious affiliation) minorities of this state.


Another issue Utahn's have is stereotyping politicians by party affiliations. My former employer related a story of going to dinner with a new member of their LDS ward, the conversation waxed political and to his disbelief he discovered that they were Democrats. "How can you be Mormon and Democrat?" has asked incredulously. Needless to say the discussion didn't harbor closer Christ-like relations among ward members. My employer's opinion is far to prevalent in our state. As a Mormon I find issues to which I can and cannot reconcile my religious beliefs per party platforms on both sides of the isle just as I can find fault with many politicians from both sides of the isle. The point is voters who stick solely to party lines waste their opportunity to have a say in the affairs of our government -- pure party line voters create regimes that stray from representative leadership to tyrannical rule.

I'm removing my Republican affiliation from my voting records, the likes of Buttars, Dayton, Utah Eagle Forum, and Ruzicka have become too much for me. I'm not ready to join the Democrats either, the likes of Billary and Pelosi and issues like abortion keep from going towards that party. I think I will best perform my civic duties by keeping myself unspoiled from the two national parties. We need to care less about whether a D or R is by the politicians name, and more about the character and qualifications of the individuals asking for our votes.


7 comments:

Christopher Mum said...

indeed my friend... although I would assume as per your blog that you and I probably disagree on at least a few points, I like the way you think! I would agree that thinking and voting only per party lines is a dangerous road to travel. I have never found a single candidate that I agreed with on every single issue... but rather do my best to choose the lesser of all evils. As per particular issues it is imperative that we all examine our personal beliefs and educate ourselves on the issue at hand before casting our vote, rather than following party politics. If we can't do this then we are forced to live with outcomes that are less than desirable, it is too bad that as you stated this strategy is the status quo in Utah and sadly I don't think it will change anytime soon.... buy we can try!

www.freesovietutah.com

Jason The said...

Well said.

Cameron said...

I appreciate the sentiment you write of. But I ask, what is accomplished when a self-described moderate withdraws from both parties? How does that help elect better candidates and better legislators?

pramahaphil said...

Good question, Cameron. I don't know that I have a answer for you. I guess if I am going to be defined as a moderate, than I should cut all official ties to one side or the other.

UtahTeacher said...

This is something I've struggled with, especially lately.

Not my political identity--I've known I didn't identify with either major party since the first time I voted at age 18. I'm pretty consistent nationally, but I'm all over the place in state and local races.

But what Cameron brings up: what is the best way to express my dislike of the parties, but still influence important decisions? Is the principle worth being locked out? I still don't know. I really want to register Republican and attend my first precinct meeting to try and elect some moderate delegates, but...I don't feel quite honest joining an organization I expressly disagree with on many issues, especially locally. Am I lying if I join just to hopefully get a good delegate?

The private political party's right to organize themselves as they please vs. the public's interest in influencing Republican caucuses and primaries which often serve as the de facto election of our public officials. I just feel stuck. I'm going to write a post of my own about this soon.

javacat said...

Amen, couldn't have said it better. I have a Mormon mother in law who literally votes her religion and has never educated herself on the issues. It's a shame.

I grew up in a Catholic family that did the same which in Utah translates into a vote for Democrats (always in opposition of the Mormons).

I was a member of the first Hispanic Republican caucus in Utah, which was short lived. I couldn't stomach the religion that was infused into "our" agenda.

I am now a happily unaffiliated atheist with strong Democratic leanings. I guess I could no longer tolerate intolerance.

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