Utahns of all political persuasions have been alienated by Donald Trump this year. It’s difficult to count the number of ways in which he tramples on traditional Utah values.
Just a few months ago we would never have believed that the Presidential nominee of a major political party would brag about sexually assaulting women. Or would encourage violence against opponents at his rallies. Or would demonize immigrants and refugees. Or would insist that only if he wins the election will the process be anything but “rigged.” And who would have believed that James Evans, the state chairman of Utah’s Republican Party, would publicly assert that Hillary Clinton has arranged the murder of dozens of political opponents or claim on national television that Bill Clinton has an illegitimate son? Truly, this is not your father’s Republican party, on either the national or the state level.
Trump is a symptom of a greater disease, one that has infected both the national and state Republican parties. Simply put, the GOP no longer stands for so many of its traditional values. Priorities such as small government and limited spending have been replaced with corporate welfare, partisan posturing, and made up “scandals,” topped off with campaigns that rely on personal insults, appeals to fear, anger, conspiracy theories, and assertions that national glory has been lost or abandoned.
It’s tempting to write off Mr. Trump as just an outlier, an aberration in a string of experienced and credible GOP Presidential candidates. But that would deny reality. We have seen many of Utah’s Republican leaders throw their full support behind Donald Trump. And we have witnessed other ways in which state Republican leaders have turned their backs on traditional Utah values.
Our elected leaders are often callous to the unfairness and enormous hardship arising out of the differences in chances for learning among our children. They too frequently show a lack of concern for the pain and loss of life to the least among us who have no access to affordable healthcare. And growing income inequality threatens to break up our state and make equal opportunity for our children a joke. Our state has suffered as a result of misplaced values and priorities.
Unfortunately, the last few years have seen other, in some ways more troubling, problems emerge out of one-party Republican control in our state. We thought we could count on Republicans to be fiscally responsible and to wisely manage taxpayer funds. But the GOP has been increasingly derelict on this front. Since the beginning of 2014, Utah’s Republican leaders have refused to bring back hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes paid by Utahns to ensure that those with the greatest needs will have access to affordable healthcare under the expanded Medicaid program. They have been willing to spend $14 million to pursue meritless litigation against the federal government in an effort to develop and despoil our irreplaceable public lands. They were willing to throw away $53 million on a coal port in Oakland that had no chance of exporting coal. They would like to flush hundreds of millions of dollars down the drain to build unnecessary, environmentally damaging, water diversion projects.
Taken together, the state GOP leadership is not just being grossly irresponsible with your money. They reflect something worse and are part of what Donald Trump brings to the scene: a Republican party unmoored from values and principles we have, regardless of party, always held dear in Utah. It is only by breaking single party control in Utah that we will have greater voter participation and better policy-making. Simply put, one party control has not been good for Utah.
In this election, with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, we have a chance to begin to take back our state from single party dominance. This is an opportunity for voters to make their voices heard: today’s GOP does not represent Utah values. Utahns need to reject the poisonous campaigns, discourse, and policies we’ve seen too much of in recent weeks, months, and years. Get out and vote for a change.