More Democrats in Utah Will Not Eliminate CorruptionOn Apr 3, 2013 Comments Off on More Democrats in Utah Will Not Eliminate Corruption
On March 6, 2013, the Deseret News posted an editorial by BYU professor Richard Davis in which he complains about Utah’s one party system, the Republican Party, and blames the GOP for Utah’s corruption. I was spending 24-7 at the state legislature trying to stop some very bad bills that both parties supported, so now it’s time to respond to the real story behind this story.
Please note a significant point that the Deseret News left out: The author Richard Davis, in addition to being BYU political science and American government professor, is the former Utah County Democratic Party chairman. So author of this article, complaining about the majority party – the Republican Party – might be slightly biased. Just slightly.
It appears that a significant number of BYU professors are Democrats. They routinely show up at the state legislature to testify against conservative bills, such as allowing “intelligent design” to be included along with “evolution” in the education curriculum. Davis’ student ratings show that he does indeed teach with a liberal Democratic bias. Sadly, his democratic colleagues typically want only their views represented in public schools.
Heaven help those Mormon children whose conservative parents have sent them off to BYU trusting that it was a safe environment reflecting the conservative values they have taught their children all their lives.
Conservative Mormon parents ought to be concerned. The rank and file Mormon community would be surprised if a survey were commissioned that found a significant number of BYU faculty who align themselves with the Democratic Party. I asked BYU Poly Sci professor-pollster Quin Monson if he would survey that question, but he declined, thinking the University would not approve. Perhaps he also know something we don’t.
BYU might also consider providing a disclosure statement to the conservative Republican parents who send their children to this center of LDS academic and religious scholarship. Parents do have a right to know. I’m in favor of having a broad discussion, but knowing the professor’s perspective ahead of time is just more transparent and, well…honest.
The Democratic View of Utah’s Republican Monopoly
Professor Davis equates corruption with monopolistic, one-party rule. Monopoly is a concern to any free market, but in Utah the dominant Republican Party is actually mixture of ideologies representing a broad range across the political spectrum from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican. More on that later.
Davis quotes the famous dictum from Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Then he equates it to the Utah Republican Party’s monopoly.
Lord Acton was quoted somewhat out of context. He was referring to the corruption of monarchs and the self-proclaimed emperors or dictators who promoted themselves as gods imposing their omnipotent authority upon the people.
Furthermore, have we not learned that no matter what the election system or which party is in power, corruption finds its way into the headlines?
Some have believed that third parties will solve the problems of the two-party grip on corruption. However, I was once a member of the national executive committee of a third party in the 1990’s, driven by the pretense that it would solve two-party corruption. Yet I have never witnessed so much corruption among a few trying to gain power in that third party. It became so corrupt, it destroyed itself.
We need a common sense reality check: People tend to be imperfect, and some even corrupt. Put the Democratic Party in charge in Utah, there will still be corruption.
Let’s instead take a more intelligent look at how to solve the problem of corruption. Hint: It rests in the culture’s personal adherence to principles that have proven to promote a safe and secure society. That happens only if one-by-one, individuals in that culture value those principles and moral standards and then collectively the people come together to form coalitions of like minds. That would be the definition of a political party in the public square of ideas. So a political party is only as honorable as the people that populate it.
Making Utah a “Two-Party” System
The chief complaint is that Utah is a “one party system.” I lived in Connecticut, a state so blue the GOP suffocates from lack of oxygen. What typically happens in this situation is that Republicans will run as Democrats in order to get elected. Such is the case in Utah, except in the reverse.
This creates a strange mix of conservative and liberal Republicans on the same side of the aisle. Having been at Utah legislative sessions over the years and having watched closely the voting records, it is disappointing, but not surprising, to note how many Republicans in Utah’s legislature actually cast votes that are more closely aligned with the Democratic platform than their own Republican platform.
Newly-elected Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is an example. He’s a fine man and a respected doctor who I know personally. He just votes democratically most of the time. Not surprisingly, he came to the Utah State Senate from a lobbyist background as President of the Utah Medical Association. The UMA is an affiliate the American Medical Association, the doctor’s organization that represents only 18% of doctors, but endorsed ObamaCare to keep its own monopoly of profit with its ownership of the CPT codes. Shiozawa, along with the UMA and the AMA, is a strong supporter of Medicaid expansion, the key to implementing ObamaCare on the state level. But he did get an important vote right, and to his credit, he was the only Senator – Democrat or Republican – to vote against it: competency-based education, the platform for common core standards dumbing down our students.
Senator Steve Urquhart is another who’s not only confused politically, but clearly has some gender confusion going on. He represents one of the most conservative counties in Utah – Washington County. Yet, he supported that same radically-liberal and green school curriculum that champions gender equality, as did his colleague Aaron Osmond. Urquhart also sponsored the non-discrimination bill in support of gay rights and gender confusion in the pubic bathroom. That one would also put women in danger, should a man who had a “sincerely held belief “or “internalized sense” that he was really a woman enter the ladies room. Both bills were counter to his own party’s platform.
Speaking of confusion, meet Senator Todd Weiler. He voted well on many bills, but suddenly he worked ferociously to gut the Prohibition of Medicaid Expansion bill intended to stop ObamaCare in Utah, while at the same time identifying himself as a Republican. What was that about?
Next, meet Utah State Senator Aaron Osmond. This pains me because Aaron’s not only a great guy, but I love his Aunt and Uncle Alan and Suzanne Osmond dearly. Who doesn’t love an Osmond? Look at that charismatic Osmond smile. He also endorsed me when I ran for Congress.
It’s not for lack of appreciation, but these are critically important issues, and so I must be honest: While Osmond voted for awful education legislation that would continue to grow the greenest, most liberal environmental education curriculum in Utah, he then turned around and voted for a great resolution to kill the very green movement he supported, the Agenda 21 joint resolution. Go figure.
If Democratic BYU Professor Richard Davis wants to make Utah a two-party system, then I suggest the following solutions:
a) Continue to import more non-Mormons and liberal/ progressive-owned businesses, such as Adobe Systems, to relocate their headquarters, especially in Utah County, home of the most conservative and religious-going in the entire nation. The Republican Governor’s Office on Economic Development is doing a fine job to make Utah less religious and less Republican. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen is a big supporter of Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama; In fact, with Republican Governors like Gary Herbert, one might ask, “Who needs Democrats?” He vetoed Utah’s gun bill, he supports Democratic Party funders like GE Foundation’s Bob Corcoran and his education policies full of cap and trade green gunk, and he is just truly an overall likeable guy that wants to please everyone. I like him. He’s a friend. He’s everyone’s friend. That’s the problem. Could the LDS Church please call him on a Mormon mission? He would be great. I’m serious.
b) Continue to build the “Blue Underground” on the BYU campus, whose Democratic socialist faculty network has admitted in an email sent to me back in 2005 that it is actively engaged as change agents to turn the students’ values against those their close-minded parents taught them, all the while wearing their CTR rings as they lecture. That’s the Mormon acronym for “Choose the Right” – not the Left. The Right. Why can’t they just get it…Right? (I couldn’t resist.);
c) Change the Democratic platform from its present pro-big-government, socialist and anti-religious planks to a platform that supports limited government, fiscal restraint, and that rests on a moral foundation supporting marriage between a man and a woman and respecting God and the sanctity of Life.
But wait. Then Utah would have two Republican Parties. So how would that work?
The plight of the Democrat in Utah is understandable. Democratic values just don’t fit there so much – for now. The Utah Democratic Party does itself no favor by electing a gay party chair, now State Senator Jim Dabakis, in a state that still has a super-Mormon Majority that strongly supports marriage between a man and a woman. He’s a friendly guy and I like him a lot, but what were the Democrats thinking, if they wanted to expand their base in Utah in 2012?
The National and Utah Democratic Party platforms oppose the LDS Church’s core policy on the family and the purpose of marriage and the sanctity of Life, The Family: A Proclamation to the World. That stance was soundly reinforced in its latest General Conference on April 6-7, 2013.
Not even Peter Cooke, the Democratic candidate for Utah governor, could align himself with his own party’s platform. Dabakis got elected to State Senate because he lives in the uber-liberal part of Salt Lake City.
The Democratic Party also does itself no favor in uber-religious Utah when it expresses antagonism toward the strong religious culture. In 2004, the Democratic National Platform mentioned God seven times. Yet by 2012, the DNC showed its anti-religous bias at its 2012 national convention when the platform emerged with all references to God removed, endorsed by David Silverman, President of American Atheists.
It’s worth refreshing our memories about that mysterious event. After an 11th hour suspension of the rules to entertain a motion to amend the platform to include God and Israel, it took Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa three calls for a voice vote to rule that he had 2/3 majority in favor of the motion. All three times God and Israel were shouted down. Watch this short video closely. (Ya gotta love the lightning SFX.)
After two calls for a voice vote, the chair conferred with the parliamentarian who simply told him to “let the delegates do what they’re going to do.” On the third voice vote, the chair unilaterally declared the 2/3rd majority. However, unless you have a hearing problem, you will clearly notice that it was not a 2/3 majority voice vote. Meanwhile, motions from the floor to call for division or a roll call vote were ignored, presumably because the mics were not live at that time, a routine manipulative maneuver used in large political conventions to control the crowd, and the outcome of the vote.
So the chair unilaterally ruled to keep God in the Democratic platform – with only one reference remaining.
What does a Democratic professor in Utah expect when those high numbers of Mormon Republicans merely reflect the high number of Utahns who hold the conservative values of the GOP?
The Real Dilemma of Two Parties in Mormon Utah
A core doctrine of the LDS faith is that Mormons strive for a “Zion” society – to be a people with unity of thought and purpose. In a God-fearing state, the conservative moral ideals that distinguish the Republican Party from the Democratic Party actually transcend the doctrinal differences of the many Judeo-Christian denominations that reside in Utah and brings unity across the spectrum of conservative, traditional Christian (and even Orthodox Jewish) sects.
Richard Davis is presumably Mormon. It would seem that the Mormon ethic reflects the unity that such a dominant political party represents, would it not? And would that not be a goal of Professor Davis as well? How would turning Utah into a two-party system of opposing platforms help Utah Mormons reach that Zion goal of “unity?” The concept of Zionseems consistent with having ONE party, not TWO, does it not? I’m not advocating either way, I’m just saying.
With the advent of these moral issues that just keep getting in the way of the Utah Democratic Party platform, LDS leaders have sought for ways to bring Mormons together, suggesting “unity in diversity” in the 1990s. It hasn’t worked. They’re more divided now than ever. So much for Zion, until further notice anyway. That great sifting sound is still roaring. What a mess.
The irony is that, with all the criticism the Utah Democratic Party and Richard Davis give Utah’s dominant party, Utah is rated one of the most appealing states for business precisely because Utah is still composed of voters that value conservative ideals, and consequently it has taken a more conservative Republican – and yes, Mormon – stance on governance.
How to Truly Minimize Corruption
What would help reduce corruption in Utah – or any state – is this:
Personal integrity. Of course. It’s self-evident that corruption will never decline unless people choose to become less corrupt themselves and commit follow a higher standard of morality, ethics and personal integrity.
That said, knowing all people are imperfect and susceptible to corruption, here are some practical suggestions for reducing corruption in a political arena:
Voters must become more involved and engaged in their own political process. The caucus-convention election system is the best way for the most voters to participate on an “inside” level. It’s the only system remaining among all 50 states that truly allows the grassroots – the People – to influence who they elect against the big party bosses and DC lobbyists who prefer to limit the People’s choices to the rich and famous, and the incumbents whose votes they can buy and control. This is true for any political party. Mormon’s value this adage from the scriptures: that people should be anxiously engaged in good causes.
Voters must become more informed. The biggest threat to ethical governance is not the monopoly of one party over the other. It is the misinformed or the low-information voter that unknowingly votes for the rich and famous candidate that might just be the unqualified, unprepared or low-information candidate. Either those voters don’t know how to research the candidates thoroughly or they don’t have time, or because they have an election system that favors electing the wrong kind of candidate or re-electing a bad incumbent. The Utah caucus-convention system informs voters better than any other system.
There are more ways to reduce corruption, one of which is to make sure your state has the best election laws possible, laws that support that guarantee of a republican form of government, and that is the caucus-convention system of election. Read more here.