On the EDge: Crossing political lines, or Why I voted for Ronald Reagan … twice

OPINION – With the election just around the corner, I was talking to a friend the other day about voting, the candidates, the issues.

Needless to say, this being Utah, all things are not equal.

Whether you are on the winning or losing side of that equation doesn’t matter. Without dialog, opposition, a choice, elections are a farce.

Government is, after all, supposed to represent all people, not just the majority. But, as we have seen here, that simply does not happen when one party holds such a commanding advantage.

There a lot of reasons why a person joins a political party and not all are ideological. Some are rooted in culture, some are simply familial: Mommy and Daddy were Republicans, so the offspring follow suit without truly understanding why.

This whole voting thing is mysterious, anyway.

I’ve heard people say they voted for a candidate because of their foreign policy or domestic policy. I’ve heard people say they voted for a candidate because he “looked like a president.” Considering some presidents we’ve had, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I do know that as a voter, I’ve got a fairly schizophrenic record.

I mean, I’ve voted for a roster of candidates that range from George McGovern to, believe it or not, Ronald Reagan, and not only once, but twice in Reagan’s case.

I have never been a political moderate. My leanings have always been hard left. Most of those who consider themselves very liberal or very conservative rarely cross party lines. Most of the time they will show their displeasure with a candidate from their party by either voting for a third-party candidate or abstaining altogether.

I crossed party lines. A couple of times.

I wasn’t a huge Reagan fan. In fact, I lived in California when he was governor and had no warm feel for him at all.

But, I had a bad case of the “guilts.”

I had seen my social and political heroes cut down in the ‘60s and worked feverishly for George McGovern in 1972. I saw the scandal of the Richard Nixon era and, by the time 1976 rolled around, was so disgusted I just checked out.

I was disappointed in Jimmy Carter who for all of his interest in human rights was still a vicious politician. I thought of it as pure hypocrisy, so I voted, holding my nose, for Reagan.

Still, I didn’t see him in the same light as others did.

His trickle-down economics thing was ludicrous to me and his “right is might” attitude was rather crude. But at least you knew where you stood with Reagan and I figured he was a good placeholder until somebody more fitting came around. I voted for him a second time when the Democratic Party ran Walter Mondale against him. Mondale had one bright, shiny moment during the first debate, then the wheels fell off.

History has been overly kind to the 40th President of the United States and the mainstream Republican Party – or, what is left of it – has deified him although, in actuality, his ideology was closer to the moderates of today’s Democratic Party than today’s GOP.

He doubled the size of Medicaid and led Medicare reform; offered amnesty and fast-track citizenship for more than 3 million undocumented aliens; successfully pushed for an automatic weapons ban and supported the Brady Bill, which placed restrictions on gun owners; grew government to create the much-needed Department of Veteran’s Affairs; fought, although unsuccessfully, for the elimination of tax loopholes for millionaires; and, although his environmental record is splotchy, he did negotiate the Montreal Protocol, which is used today to fight polluters.

Reagan is often credited with ending the Cold War. His “tear down this wall” speech resonates. But the reality is he happened to be sitting in the chair when the former Soviet Union started to implode, not from military or political muscle, but because it went broke. The United States engaged the U.S.S.R. in a war of technological investment when President John Kennedy said we were going to the moon. The Soviets fought long and hard to keep up with the technological advances of the free world – from the race to the moon to development of strategic weaponry, but lost the Cold War because of monetary, not ideological, failure. When the U.S.S.R. was finally dissolved in 1991, Reagan was given much undeserved credit.

I also crossed party lines and voted for Jon Huntsman Jr. for governor – one of the finest men I have ever known in politics – and Orrin Hatch since coming to Utah, because, well I was not thrilled with his opponents.

Although Huntsman and Hatch carry the banner of conservative politics, their deeds don’t necessarily match up with their words as they both were able to reach across party lines when serious issues were on the line.


It’s not going to happen.

I have developed a tremendous disdain for local politics and politicians who ride the Republican Party’s crested wave and their own incumbency into win after win.

The thing I find amazing, however, is that if you engage people about politics here, they are all disgruntled, from the local to federal level. Yet they continue to put the same people into office year after year. I don’t completely understand that because I subscribe to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, I’ll be bold and go out on the limb with some election predictions.


Fewer than 40 percent will turn out for the election. Midterms just aren’t as sexy as presidential elections.


Every incumbent will win in Southern Utah. The only race of substance in the entire state is the race for the U.S. House seat from Utah’s 4th Congressional District between Mia Love and Doug Owens and Love currently leads the polling by about 9 percentage points.


We all lose, not because of another predictable Republican sweep, but because whether at the local, state, or federal level, the people need more than one voice.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • JJ October 21, 2014 at 8:46 am

    politics has become just another religion for people to subscribe to. Their side is good, the other side is evil, and everything is about proving their ideology right as opposed to being open-minded and searching for the truth.

    • CF October 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      One of the best comments I’ve seen. So true!

  • Big Guy October 21, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Interesting thoughts Ed, but you make one statement that you can’t really believe if you are “hard left” as you avow. You say, “Government is, after all, supposed to represent all people, not just the majority. But, as we have seen here, that simply does not happen when one party holds such a commanding advantage.” A substantial majority of the American public opposed Obamacare in 2010 and a substantial majority still oppose it in 2014. But the Democrat party used and continues to use its “commanding advantage” to force it on us. They clearly don’t represent “all people.” What say you?

    • Ed Kociela October 21, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Good question. The answer? The thought is that the ACA provides aid for the minority of the population that goes without coverage/care. They would be the under-represented in politics (ugly word.) Look, we can all agree that whichever party occupies the majority rubs the noses of the others into the carpet whenever they can, whether Republican or Democrat. We once had representative government We no longer do on the local, state, or federal level anywhere. It split apart with all this state’s rights emphasis. We need one rule book for the nation, period. Hard left leaners, by my definition, by the way, would be more in line with seeing to the needs of the few. The majority almost always gets its way, the others? Not so much.

      • Big Guy October 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        Thoughtful answer and I very much appreciate your candor in blaming “…all this states rights stuff.” Annoying thing, that Constitution of ours with its 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Federal government has greatly expanded its powers using liberal interpretations of the Constitution with the so-called Commerce Clause coming readily to mind. More recently, Federal judges have adopted Humpty Dumpty’s approach to the Constitution as described in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'” These “living constitution” judges interpret the equal protection clause to mean exactly what they choose it to mean. The two most contentious examples of creating new “rights” where they did not exist before are Roe vs. Wade and the more recent same-sex marriage decisions. This latter inserted the Federal government into domestic relations in a way it had never intervened in the past pursuant to the 10th Amendment. Federal judges legislating from the bench and inventing new rights as they go. But with apologies to Shakespeare, “Hell hath no fury like liberals scorned” if and when rulings from the bench turn against them.

    • Chris October 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      “a substantial majority still oppose it in 2014” If you actually studied reliable polling on the subject, you would know that there is no majority on either the “pro” or “con” sides of this debate. In fact, approximately 20% of respondents are still undecided. The “undecideds” are the intelligent ones at this point since the effects of the ACA have yet to be fully realized. This is a complex topic, and those who make knee-jerk reactions one way or the other are those who obvious know the least about it.

      • Chris October 21, 2014 at 3:50 pm


        Take a look at this poll released yesterday by Rasmussen (a firm generally considered to lean “right”). Where is your substantial majority in that data?

        • Big Guy October 22, 2014 at 10:30 am

          Let’s see. Rasmussen reports that 39% want it repealed and 40% more want it gone through piece by piece and improved. Only 15% want it as is. Any guess what Obamacare would look like if it was “improved?” Liberals wouldn’t recognize it. For this reason, Harry Reid’s do-nothing Senate has refused to even consider or compromise with House-passed improvements since many Senate Democrats would agree to major changes. (They’d like to be re-elected.) In addition, Obama threatened to veto changes since bi-partisan compromise is not in his DNA. Instead Obama himself has “improved” the law by refusing to enforce over 40 of the law’s explicit provisions, contrary to his Constitutional duty to execute the laws of the land. If the 40% wanting changes were instead forced to choose between implementing the law as written or repealing it, I stand by my statement that a “substantial majority” would oppose it: 39% plus at least 15% of those wanting “improvements.”

  • Visiting Anthropologist October 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

    This problem is not limited to Utah, but it does seem much worse here, a reflection apparently of other institutional “tightness” about which newcomers are so often warned. The sad truth is that voters in many places are limited in their choices not to voting for the best candidate but to choosing among the least distasteful. On the other hand, there are occasional surprises. Some years back, the residents of one county in Oregon chose, in the same election, Senator Wayne Morse and presidential candidate Richard Nixon. You’d have to remember something about Senator Morse to see the irony in this. He began his career as a Republican, became an independent and eventually a Democrat, and he was only one of two senators (Senator Gruening was the other) who voted against the Vietnam War.

    Now and then, better things can happen where politics are concerned. As Billie Holiday once said, “Pray for the future. Hope for the best.”

    Always enjoy your column, Ed.

    • Ed Kociela October 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Nt so difficult when you remember that Richard Nixon campaigned in 1968 on a platform that included a “plan” to end the war in Vietnam. It appealed to a war-weary segment of the voting population, which saw somebody other than the hippies calling for an end to the war. Remember “peace with honor?” The Dems, on the other hand, had lost RFK to an assassin’s bullet, McCarthy was looked upon as “Plastic Man” and Humphrey was not trusted because of his slick politician image. I was 17 (too young to vote) but had worked in the RFK campaign stuffing envelopes at a local office. People were so shattered by his death that it was impossible to pick up the pieces afterwards. At least for some, and the 1968 convention in Chicago? It did not win many fans for the Democratic Party.

  • McMurphy October 21, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I have been voting for fifty years and in all that time there have only been two or three candidates at the federal, state or local levels that I was actually enthusiastic about. While it is often difficult to find someone to vote for I can usually find candidates to vote against. I vote by the process of elimination; after eliminating candidates I clearly don’t want I vote for the last man (or woman) standing. I have also voted Democratic in the vain hope of reducing the stranglehold the Republicans have on Utah.

  • S. Carter October 21, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Ronald Reagan and Joseph Smith: The 2 most revered men in Utah

  • Brian October 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    The solution is to focus on principles and ignore parties. Period. Many of the founding fathers warned us against the evils of a two party system, and they were clearly right. By focusing on principles we quickly realize which politicians are principled and representing the people, and which only seek the power of their party. Unfortunately, the vast majority are in the latter camp. We don’t have a politician problem, we have a citizen problem. Until citizens care enough to get informed and vote their conscience, we’re hosed as a nation. Which unfortunately means we’re hosed as a nation…

  • Rick October 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Question: Why are politicians corrupt?
    Answer: Because you have to be corrupt to be a politician.

    Question: Why does the political climate in Utah seem much worse than other places?
    Answer: Because you are a Liberal Democrat and your party doesn’t dominate local and state government. Otherwise it wouldn’t seem so bad.

    So predictable.
    I’m tired of all the broken record responses.

    • Ed Kociela October 21, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Not true. I have never lived anywhere where one party was so dominant and the needs of those in the political minority are ignored. Would I be happy if it was totally flipped? No. Conservatives have rights and needs too, you know. We are supposed to be a “united”states. Folly? In today’s world, yes.

  • Psychological Truths October 21, 2014 at 11:19 am

    While it is true that many people vote the same as their parents, this is not always true just look at Ron Reagan. It is much more likely for a child to be indoctrinated into a religion than a political party. In fact any religion that is followed as a youngster from any source is very likely to be the one they hold true later in life.

  • Backing up Rick October 21, 2014 at 11:26 am

    It’s amazing that liberals claim that Utah is corrupt, it’s like they don’t even read the news because all of the major corruption scandals out of California in the last year or so have been from the liberals, and they have been major scandals. Further, while Utah has a state income tax less than California’s, a much lower sales tax, and I have no doubt much less tax rates on everything behind the scenes like gasoline (although I know liberals never understand how many taxes and programs their already are out there) there is a thing called credit rating. Not only does California have such a horrible credit rating years ago they had to issue IOU’s do its citizens. Go drive the roads their and see how crummy they are and that extends to every part of their infrastructure , especially in L.A. The truth is the liberal party is so full of corruption it is amazing how foolish people have to be to support them vocally.

    • munchie October 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      I realize Utah has a major inferiority complex when it comes to all things Californian, but arguing that California scandal justifies Utah scandal is really begging the question.

  • JAR October 21, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Very interesting topic Ed. I see your point in most what you say. I’m in favor of a vote for a Conservative candidate vs. a Liberal candidate period. Throw the current parities under the bus. The only people who would complain are the ‘2 faced’ Lawyers in each current party. A Republican lawyer( rhino) and a Democrat lawyer (ass___e) are out for themselves. Same for politics in Utah. As a Utah conservative, I voted for Matherson-D each time for Congress. Why? Because he represented us the way he said he would (98% of the time). I currently have that same feeling in Senator Lee-R. Bottom line, I don’t see the majority of Utahans as Republicans or Democrats. There are tightwad/ get out of my face(Conservatives ) or the pie in the sky / Buy me this or that and for the whole world too (liberals).

  • Bender October 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Recently deceased actor, James Garner who worked with Reagan in the Screen Actors Guild, had little respect for Reagan his his memoir. See a short review here: http://variety.com/2011/biz/opinion/in-new-memoir-james-garner-slams-reagan-other-actors-who-run-for-office-37170/
    Reagan – sunny personality, not too bright and were he in office today the Tea Party would despise him.

    • anon October 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      The best leader suited to the tea party would have been Hitler or Stalin I think…

  • Just Ben October 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    As Jerry Doyle is fond of saying, as it relates to politics…”We’re mad as Hell and we ARE going to take it some more”. Paul Harvey used to say that there can be no self governance without self discipline.

  • What what what October 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Anon never never type a stupid comment then end with I think. At that point you appear to be as stupid as Koolaid, bobbers and s.carter. S. carter has to be related to jimmy. That answers Carters stupid comments. Everyone knows if you want something from the government you vote democrats, if you think man kind should have his freedom you vote republican. They all cheat they all are all un trust worthy, they all bow down and worship money. But whom ever fights to ensure your freedom to make a choice, whether right or wrong, that’s up to the individule. That’s who you vote for.

    • Koolaid October 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      How many grammatical errors can you find in this post by someone who appears to be pro-Republican? Read the sixth word in the post. There you have it.

    • Ron October 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      I guess simple minds have to come up with simple answers.

  • DAVE RABBITT October 21, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    ¶ It would appear that you’ve found some comfort over your lifetime on making decisions based on emotion, rather than logic? Just because you’re disgruntled over having a Republican majority in Utah, you will choose to follow the Democratic minority, just because you want something “new”?

    ¶ Engleman wants to expand Medicaid coverage, which will invite more growth to our cities, in the form of Medicaid abusers.

    ¶ She wants to impose a severance tax on non-renewable resources such as oil, gas and coal to help fund better education. And even if she is successful in keeping that campaign promise, it is highly likely that the energy taxes will simply be passed on to consumers. I, for one, do not want higher gasoline and diesel prices. I do not want higher heating and cooling bills.

    ¶ She claims that women earn less than men (which is a given), yet most people are clueless as to why a women will earn less than a man.

    ¶ “The annual wage-gap statistic average is compiled by grouping together many people—and, as such, it has its caveats. In real life, men and women often do not hold the same jobs. Neither do they, on average, have the same years of experience, work the same hours, or equally share the responsibility of childbirth and child care. All of these factors translate, to different degrees, into lower pay”.

    ¶ I do not support same-sex marriage. And with lesbian couples making up only 0.4% of all households and gay men: 0.0% of all households, why should the rest of care, about more diversity in career opportunities?

    ¶ This area ( used to be?) quiet, safe, peaceful and beautiful – without the “need” for change. A few select individuals LIKE IT HERE, because of those things, yet feel discriminated against, because there area is predominately LDS and Republican? No one asked for change, except for the select few. You and Engelman appear to be part of the select few.

    ¶ Makes me wonder what her stance is on concealed-carry or gun bans? That’ll fly well, with the populace!

  • PHJ October 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Whenever the Liberals get bounced, we all win. That’s why I like living here.

  • anon October 21, 2014 at 11:17 pm


  • the dude October 22, 2014 at 2:42 am

    So you vote for McGovern but not Carter in his relection, what about G. Ferraro, or w. Mondale in 1984. You are following people not leading them. D is dead in Utah because of people like You E Kociela.

  • bishpoul October 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Love Reagan but the Washington County Assessor has got to go. What ever happened with dealing with the Citizens with respect. We need a revamp of
    the whole Assessor’s office. Bad Government hurts everyone.

  • Bulldog October 27, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Whenever the Republican dominance in our state is whined about I remind people that this state has elected Democrat Jim Matheson many times and he currently represents a more Republican-leaning district than any other Democratic member of Congress. So there goes your sheep mentality mantra…Facts people, facts…

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