Monday, March 17, 2008

Moderation in politics, or why I left the Party of Arrogance

A post over at Green Jello from 10 days ago has left me reflecting on my own departure from the Utah Republican Party.

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.

It didn't take me very long, upon returning from my mission to Minnesota, to realize that the Utah Republican Party often overstepped it's bounds in legislating morality. I knew that if similar things were practiced by politicians in Minnesota, Mormonism could face being outlawed.

Furthermore, I also could see that some of the morality preached at the State Capitol was not the same morality that was preached by the LDS Church.

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.

That, too, is why I continued to call myself a "Moderate" Republican -- because you had to be one or the other. So, I stayed out of the process.

A few posts in the comments section reflect the reason why I got involved with the Democratic Party. I wanted to change the world. However, I knew that staying free of our two-party system would not change anything. I knew I must get involved. The Neighborhood Caucuses were coming up. I knew my chances of changing the way things happened would be more effective as a Democrat than as a Republican. Why?

One blade of grass is much more significant in a field of five than a field of 50.


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