Guest editorial: A social progressive in the GOP says voting in Republican primary is only game in town
May 7, 2018
A year ago, I received a call from the County Clerk. The conversation went something like this:
"Hi Tania, this is Kent Jones."
"Oh, hi Kent, what's up?"
"I just received an online request from the state that you changed your party affiliation."
"That's correct, Kent."
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"Thanks for calling Kent."
It's great to live in a small town.
You see, I'm a lifelong social progressive so I could understand Kent's confusion. But I'm also fiscally responsible, so when it comes to political parties, I don't really fit anywhere. However, I've figured out that if I live in Utah and want to participate in the electoral process, then I need to be a Republican.
In most of Utah, the GOP primary is the general election so, if I'm going to be represented by a Republican — which I am fine with — then I want him or her to be someone who represents at least some of my interests. I've been called a traitor by Democrats and an infiltrator by GOPs. Time to get outside my bubble.
Fast forward to March 2018, GOP caucus night at PCHS. My neighbors elected me to be a delegate at the state convention!
On April 21, I drove down to the Maverick Center to participate in the Republican convention.
After 12 long hours, I'll cut to the chase; Mitt Romney couldn't get the 60% of the votes needed to avoid a senate primary. He has a 75+% approval rating in the state, yet could only get 49% of the delegates' vote.
In a nutshell, here are my lessons learned:
1) The GOP is fractured between the moderates and the far right. It seemed most of the Utah County delegates voted for Mike Kennedy and most of Salt Lake County for Mitt. State delegates don't represent the average GOP voter. The same is true with the Democratic party. Last year at their organizing convention, I watched the urban liberal elite trounce the rural voices. A group of millennials from Salt City with limited background in politics were elected to run the state party. I continue to watch as they spend time and money on candidates in districts they will never win. Can we all moderate to the middle already?
2) I spoke with everyone who would talk to me — we all had a lot in common, let's start focusing on that. The cowboys in front of me who seemed so nice were hootin' and a hollerin' at the "red meat" being tossed out by many candidates, while I sat there appalled at what I was hearing. I need to understand their stories.
3) Party affiliation is bogus. I've been a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent, so I'm not pledging to a platform from any party. If they want to kick me out for my lack of "purity" so be it. I'm going to vote for candidates and character, not party.
4) And lastly, please get informed, get involved and get outside your bubble. Don't argue, just listen and learn.
Circling back to my original point, here in Summit County, we are consistently sending Republicans to represent us at the state level and in DC, yet not participating in the election process by missing out on the GOP primary. Regardless of your party, affiliate with the GOP in May and join me in June in voting for someone who truly represents us as a community. You can vote for whoever you want in November.
And as for me being a traitor/infiltrator, just be forewarned; if you go by my house this election season, you're going to see these campaign signs in my yard: Mitt Romney (GOP for Senate), Eric Eliason (United Utah Party for CD 1), Ben McAdams (Democrat for CD 4) and Parkite Jack Rubin (Republican for SD26).
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