On the EDge: Yes, we could use another political party, in fact we could use a couple of them

Stock images, St. George News

OPINION – As always, I’m intrigued by the idea of a new political party emerging.

But, as always, I have no reason to get my hopes up.

Especially with a new party being born in Utah, the reddest of the red states.

The United Utah Party will be headed up by Brigham Young University political science professor and former Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Davis. Jim Bennett, the son and campaign manager of the late Bob Bennett, a three-term Republican senator from Utah, will serve as executive director of the UUP. He will also run as either a member of the UUP or an unaffiliated candidate in the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who resigned recently and will return to private life to, according to many reports, prepare for a run for the governor’s office.

The idea behind the formation of the UUP is that centrist Republicans and Democrats in Utah have nobody to represent them, with Davis claiming both parties have drifted too far into extremist politics.

Now, I can certainly understand Republican centrists looking for an alternative. Reps. Mia Love, Chaffetz and Sen. Mike Lee have driven the party so hard to the right that they would make the Tea Party bunch blush.

The Legislature is run by a super-majority of heavies from the far right, the governor’s office is in the Sarah Palin – Joe The Plumber political camp and our Washington, D.C. delegation is, arguably, the most conservative in the nation.

Throw in what has happened as the extreme right has hijacked county commissions and town councils across the state and you can see how far the party has strayed from traditional Republican platforms and values.

But, as far as the other side, I fail to see any Democrat lurching much beyond moderate. It’s just not there, not at the local, state or federal level.

If anything, Utah Democrats should be upset because they have so few viable candidates and because those that they run are so conservative that they are Democrats in name only. With the exception of Salt Lake City, where a succession of mayors – Rocky Anderson, Ralph Becker and Jackie Biskupski – have served under a traditional liberal banner there is little for progressives to cheer about.

What I think is happening here is that a group of traditional Utah Republicans, aghast at what occurred during the election last year and further dismayed by what has transpired since the inauguration, is looking to put the GOP back on proper footing, even if it means creating a new party.

Bennett’s inclusion in this new party is the clue.

His father was a classic Republican. He was tough on crime, he was fiscally conservative, he was pro-life, pro-religion, pro-business. He was also an interesting man whose company I enjoyed when he would come to Southern Utah, whether to meet with constituents and media or to take in a play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

I remember him as an engaging conversationalist, capable of deep thought, and as a warm human being. I would bump into him occasionally in the courtyard of the Adams Theatre on a clean, clear summer morning and take a moment to chat about anything but politics, for which he seemed grateful. He was, after all, on vacation.

Now, our politics were, obviously, quite different, but he was, nonetheless, dignified and cordial, even during some very intense conversations. He got a raw deal from the zealots who crawled aboard the Tea Party bus and ramrodded him out of office, claiming he was far too liberal, which was absurd.

He was no fan of the president and, in fact, according to his son, asked, while on his death bed, if he could visit the Muslims in his hospital so he could “go up to every single one of them and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.”

But, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a loyal conservative, it just means he wasn’t swept away by the emotion of a populist movement that has splintered the Republican Party in Utah and elsewhere.

In fact, he was in touch with the majority of people in Utah who voted against Trump.

Still, that does not guarantee the success of a third party in Utah, even though 39 percent of voters are not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

While that number seems impressive and, even, perhaps, a good base to build upon, when push comes to shove, the UUP will be an exercise in futility.

It takes more than a bunch of disgruntled voters to make a new party effective, as we learned when George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader ran for president. They rode the wave of populist politics but succeeded only in watering down the vote in most cases and playing the spoiler in another. That’s it.

On the state level, Minnesota has had some success over the years with third-party campaigns – remember Gov. Jesse Ventura, the pro wrestler turned politician? But, that’s Minnesota where voters have a history of looking beyond the two established parties.

The truth is, we already have a couple of alternative parties. They lurk in the shadows, but we have the Libertarian, Independent, Constitutionalist, Green and other parties.

We don’t know much about them, however, because even though they may get enough signatures to make it to the ballot, they don’t have the bucks to conduct widespread campaigns.

And, that is where the UUP will fail tremendously.

It takes money to run a campaign.

A lot of money.

More money than you or I will ever have.

My skepticism tells me that although Bennett may have a lot of political savvy and a good, solid reputation, he is wasting his time. I see the hardliners ready to pick his bones and toss him aside among the GOP rubble in a heartbeat, unless he and the UUP come up with a lot of money in a short amount of time, which is doubtful. The party will soon disappear with him, crushed by the big boys with their deep pockets and establishment roots.

Yes, we can use another political party.

We could use a couple of them.

It would help bring back voters who have thrown up their hands in disgust and left the system altogether.

But, don’t hold your breath.

We can’t muster enough support to pass campaign reform and term limits, let alone create and build a viable new political party.

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

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian May 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I despise the two party system (and the two parties themselves), so I welcome any additional parties that are serious and have well-defined platforms.

    It is so frustrating to have parties with a platform that I generally agree with, but then they pick idiotic candidates that there is no way I can support (like Gary Johnson or Super Dell Schanze), or they have conventions that are a disaster (again with the Libertarians and the on-state strip tease by a candidate), or the candidates are their own worst enemies (like Ross Perot).

    While I generally say the more the merrier on the parties, one party is going to have to reach critical mass before anything changes. The Libertarian’s reached 3% of the popular vote, which saves them time and money by getting automatic ballot access in 2018 and 2020. Reaching 5% would have given them access to $10M or so in the next Presidential election, but alas, they didn’t come close to that.

    Change is incremental, but more and more people I talk to are utterly disgusted with the R and D, so hopefully things will change more as time passes.

  • comments May 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Dems have become the party of misfits, oddballs, degenerates, “transgenders” and gays, Islamist lovers, illegal aliens and their supporters, muslim refugees, etc etc.

    Repubs are just plain out corrupt to the core as they’ve been since at least Bush II, and don’t do any good for anyone

    I’m with brian up there I dispose both parties and most of the politicians, but I’d be very surprised if any 3rd party could gain any real traction unless things get real bad.

    As for Gary Johnson: search youtube for “what is aleppo”. Total clown circus, and that’s the best they could come up with, a complete moron?

  • Uncle Lenny May 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I’m all in for more choices.

  • Henry May 30, 2017 at 11:38 am

    “…Utah Democrats should be upset because they have so few viable candidates and because those that they run are so conservative that they are Democrats in name only.” Thanks Ed, I spat out my coffee laughing at that preposterous statement.

    Why don’t you return to California, among the bluest of the blue states? California Democrats have defacto one party rule, and your political values appear aligned with them.

    • comments May 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      “California Democrats have defacto one party rule, and your political values appear aligned with them.”

      Interesting thing about CA. If the state wasn’t totally overrun by illegals and all the problems that come with them it would actually be a decent place to live. The love that the D party has for illegals, refugees, and other non-Americans I find somewhat bewildering. The R party pays lip service to cleaning up the problem of illegal immigration, but at the end of the day they love that cheap labor, and the cash makes up their minds.

      When I lived in seattle, which is supposedly a liberal stronghold, I found that the supposed liberals who ran the place were probably every bit as corrupt and self-serving as republicans who run places, so at the end of the day it doesn’t make that much difference. I know there were a few liberal programs that would have worked wonderfully, but that city is also overrun by illegals, and they’ve also boated in huge amounts of refugees, and seattle happens to be a drop-off point for the refugee programs or what I’d call a “dumping ground”. A combination of illegals and refugees they’ve dumped in have totally overwhelmed the gov’t systems in place (social safety nets, etc). The donald actually paid a lot of lip service to ending the globalist agenda of allowing illegals and refugee dumping, but I’m not sure anything will come of it. The republicans love masses of desperate poor because it keeps them in supply of cheap labor, and depresses wages to rock bottom across the board. The dems love masses of desperate poor because that’s their voting base. Where to begin cleaning up any of this. who even knows…

    • Brian May 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      California should be the most prosperous state in the country. They have literally everything going for them, except the politicians they choose.

      If we had a proper balance of power between the federal governments and the states California would just go bankrupt (and we’d let them) and then eventually they’d have to start using common sense or pay the price for their stupidity.

      Instead we subsidize their stupidity (free healthcare for all, sanctuary policies, business-crushing taxes, etc) and they’re going to drag the rest of the country down with them. The next time the excrement hits the rotating cooling device it’s going to be a doozey and we’ll be lucky if we can avoid a lost decade or two, like Japan has.

  • DB May 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    On a similar but different note, today I saw on the news that Hatch plans to run again. I think he will lose this time, perhaps changing the tone in Utah politics.

  • commonsense May 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Nice try Ed. You’d love a third party if it split the Republican Party in Utah. Look, Utah is the poster child of fiscal responsibility, economic strength, good health, low crime and a hell of a great place to live, all because of it’s strong Republican leadership and conservative policy.
    Contrast Utah with blue bastion California which is $300 billion in debt, high in crime, an immigrant disaster and a horrible economy and employment nightmare, or blue Connecticut with a $5 billion shortfall this year, businesses fleeing like rats from a sinking ship.

    • comments May 31, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      High drug use rates, high suicide rates, SLC area has plenty of crime, poor air quality. UT has more problems than you know. Stg is it’s own little bubble when compared to up north.

  • riccie May 30, 2017 at 10:31 pm


    Just a clarification please. You stated.
    “Throw in what has happened as the extreme right has hijacked county commissions and town councils across the state and you can see how far the party has strayed from traditional Republican platforms and values.”
    Has the Democratic party also “strayed from the traditional” Democratic platforms?

    understanding please. Thanks

    • comments June 1, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Ed aint around so: the answer is yes to some extent, but not to the extent of the repubs. Repubs have devolved into neo-cons and dems to neo-libs which actually have a great deal in common with each other. They both represent the wealthy elitist billionaire class and have desire to look out for the common folk.

  • commonsense May 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    California has six of the ten nastiest air quality cities in America.
    Utah has lowest rate of alcoholism. Suicide follows overly high expectations and aberrant behavior.
    Salt Lake City is a Democrat stronghold, so yes more crime, more drugs, more illegals.

    • comments June 1, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      SLC area has these problems bc it’s a major city with a large population. Has nothing to do with there being some dem politicians. You are truly one brain dead fox news zombie aren’t you? At least you acknowledge good ol’ mormon utah’s high suicide rate.

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