I don’t believe that a political party is a religion where one must accept all of its teachings and be baptized or otherwise commit oneself to obey all of its beliefs.

I am not a fence sitter. I have strong feelings about many political issues. In some issues I would be labeled a staunch conservative, in some issues I would be labeled a bleeding liberal and in other issues I would be labeled a moderate. I strongly dislike labels. I try to address each issue on its own merits, not on which party supports it.

I used to be a registered Republican. But in recent years I have been very disappointed in the direction the Utah Republicans have gone, especially in their lack of support for public education and their effort to take over Utah's public lands. But I still have strong concerns about several items on the National Democratic Platform. So now I am a registered independent.

As a registered independent, I am not allowed to participate in Republican Party elections, or be a delegate. But I have studied the Utah Democratic Party platform and find no problem with what it says, and the Utah Democratic Party welcomes my participation. The Utah Democratic Party promotes more of what most Utahns believe than what the leadership of the Utah Republican Party promotes. Those feelings were validated when I read the resolutions that were approved by the Utah State Republican Convention.

The following set of quotes express some of my political feelings:

“Were the impulses of conscience clear and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other law giver.” -Thomas Payne

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights … That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men …” -The Declaration of Independence

“We rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” -James Madison

“Each section and branch of government was made into a limitation upon the other. This was certainly not done in the interest of streamlined efficiency — quite the contrary. It was done deliberately to slow down government action in the interest of the freedom and security of the individual citizen.” -Clarence Manion

“Let me warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.” -George Washington

“Every time we allow or force the government, by our own individual or local failures, to take over a question that properly belongs to us, by that much we surrender our individual responsibility and with it a comparable amount of individual freedom.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

I believe political parties exist for the sole purpose of providing candidates for state and national elections; and once a candidate is elected, he or she should shed the party label and begin to best serve all of the citizens he or she represents.

Fred Ash is the Legislative Chair of the Utah Retired School Employees Association.