Richard Davis: One-party rule naturally leads to ethics abuses

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  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 9, 2013 10:46 a.m.

    So, then, limited power corrupts limitedly?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 8, 2013 7:24 a.m.

    "The extremism of the national Democratic Party poisons the well for moderate Utah Democrats (who have their own history of religious intolerance that, to his credit, the new chair is at least attempting to address), but many Utah Democrats still play Ostrich to that reality. "

    I would say this is probably an accurate statement. I have ended up in neither party because I can't align with either, since neither has a strong moderate side to themselves anymore. I would love to see a ballot that didn't off party line voting, and in fact, didn't list the candidates party at all.... that you had to actually know who you were voting for based on their platform.

    I don't like term limits. We have a choice every 2, 5 or 6 years. If the process is corrupt, then fix the process. But to kick good people out because of a time limit, I don;t see that driving much good. Term limit is just a career path to becoming lobbyist. We don't need more of them.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    March 7, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    @Open Minded Mormon
    "...and don't look now, but Utah-liban is leaning and headed that way"

    That is an incredibly closed-minded thing to say.

    I agree with 'Voice of Reason' "the real elections between the two main schools of thought in Utah were going on in the GOP caucuses"

    The extremism of the national Democratic Party poisons the well for moderate Utah Democrats (who have their own history of religious intolerance that, to his credit, the new chair is at least attempting to address), but many Utah Democrats still play Ostrich to that reality. People will stop voting for Republicans when given a valid reason not to. So far they don't have much. Democrats can call themselves moderate all they want, or demand that Jesus was a liberal (when, based upon voting patterns, most religious voters don't agree that he would be a political liberal) or hope Republicans implode with scandal - but that is still NOT a reason to vote FOR a Democrat.
    Until Democrats in Utah decide to become relevant, the two party system will continue to be played out in the Republican primaries.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    March 7, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    As a conservative Republican, I actually agree that my party has had too much power for too long in Utah. That doesn't mean I agree with the Democrat party's positions - mostly I don't - but government only improves when there is a credible opposition party; then both parties are much more effective at keeping each other in check.

    This past year, I went to my GOP party caucuses for the first time. And far from being a "we all agree" or groupthink exercise, there was serious and lively debate going on between to broadly different philosophies - one more Tea Party right-wing, and the other more moderately conservative. During the meetings, in the hallways during breaks, people were debating the issues constantly. It was then I realized that the real elections between the two main schools of thought in Utah were going on in the GOP caucuses, not in the general elections. So there still is debate going on, but Utahns simply do not broadly support the Democrat party enough because the Democrat philosophy is outside the mainstream in Utah. Ideally, the Democrat Party here would more closely reflect Utah values, which it doesn't to most Utahns.

  • JACC Bluffdale, UT
    March 6, 2013 8:12 p.m.

    Good article. I've been close enough to Republican party politics to be absolutely appalled and dismayed by what I saw. I'd love to have other alternatives to vote for.

    The big problem for me and, I believe, the majority of Utahns, is that the Republican party platform more closely represents my view of good government than the Democrat's platform. Every election I am forced to choose between political practices I don't like and political philosophies I don't like. Since I personally believe that the philosophies are more important than the practices, I usually hold my nose and help vote the same scoundrels back into office.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 6, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • Nero Salt Lake City / United States, UT
    March 6, 2013 6:43 p.m.

    Professor Davis's article argues that voters can keep politicians from becoming arrogant where there is one party in power. While I do agree that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," I believe this argument is fundamentally flawed where it assumes that these politicians were not arrogant in the first place - a chicken or the egg type assumption. Having passed through an intense law and business program I have witnessed first hand arrogance in embryo. Arrogance begins well-before party politics.

    So while I do agree that power exacerbates the situation, and absolute power may exacerbate the situation absolutely, I do not agree that the problem lies with one-party politics. Whether one-party politics is a good thing for our state is a separate argument that needs to be and should be addressed.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 6, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    Tell you what. Let's fix it by doing the same next election.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    March 6, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    In government, "Parties" should never be in power as such.

    Instead, we should form coalition governments that spread the power across multiple parties that represent the legislative, judicial, and executive interests of a variety of diverse groups.

    Instead of each of the branches of government being "controlled" by one of two parties, each branch should be a diverse mix of representatives of several parties.

    At least George Washington seemed to think so...

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    March 6, 2013 4:29 p.m.

    I have to laugh out loud at much of the stuff I just read! Especially when I see so much corruption in just one term in the White House. How about in the State of Washington when the current Governor was elected with enough voter fraud to secure her victory. No Republicans involved there. The icing on the cake was when the Washington state legislature enacted laws to prevent voter fraud and the Governor vetoed the legislation. Seems to me maybe the pot is calling the kettle black. Would the same hue and cry be heard if the "other" party was in power for so many terms? I actually agree with PatrickRC that term limits possibly offers a reasonable solution. Try getting that passed in Utah. Won't happen there or even in Massachusetts for that matter. Do you get my point!

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    March 6, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    If you really want to see a big difference between the Utah Republicans and Utah Democrats, read these quotations from their recent platforms:

    Republican State Platform: “All Republican elected officials, candidates and party officers are expected to endorse these principles and agree to be held accountable to the people and to the party.”

    Democratic State Platform: “The ideas expressed in this platform are collective and do not likely reflect the positions of any single individual. The Utah Democratic Party is a party of inclusion and diversity, encouraging the participation of people with differing opinions and backgrounds. We embrace diversity as a source of strength in our community rather than a reason for division. As such, we respect the individual conscience of each Utahn on the issues presented in this platform and welcome the participation of all Utahns within the Democratic Party.”

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    March 6, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    Compare their platforms and judge for yourselves.

    Initiatives: The Democrats want citizens' initiatives to be easier. Republicans don't mention initiatives. Having made them more difficult lately they tell us that we are a republic, not a democracy.

    Ethics: Democrats prefer more disclosure, limits on contributions, and not converting campaign money to personal use. Republicans don't mention ethics.

    The Environment: Democrats think it's good for business to protect the environment. Republicans say, "Market forces should be considered…."

    War: Both agree that it's OK for self-defense. Democrats add "and as a last resort." They further want more protection for civilians, minimum necessary force, humanity towards prisoners, clear objectives, and an exit strategy. Republicans more willing to fight to protect vital national interests.

    Regulation: Democrats want more regulation to prevent further abuses and meltdowns like the 2008 finance scandal and bailout. Republicans continue to resist most government regulation.

    Corrections: Democrats want effective intervention and treatment programs in jail. Republicans call for "swift and certain punishments" as deterrents and don't mention other programs except for restitution to victims.

    Taxation: Democrats like progressive taxes which tax the rich at rates higher than the poor. Republicans don't.

  • PatrickRC Salt Lake , UT
    March 6, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    I think a good place to start may be term limits for our state legislators.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 6, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    A post-election study conducted in Dec. by Resurgent Republic, (conservative think tank), concluded that the market for right-wing ideologues is just not there anymore:

    "Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters. For the fifth time in the past six presidential elections, Republicans lost the popular vote. Trying to win a national election by gaining a larger and larger share of a smaller and smaller portion of the electorate is a losing political proposition."

    Among registered voters, 28% call themselves Republicans, a decline of five points since 2004 and only a point above a record low level of Republican self-identification in 16 years of polling by the Pew Research Center (38% identify as Democrats and 34% self-identify as independents).

    Among voters who now identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, roughly two-thirds (68%) identify themselves as conservative, and of the conservatives, three-quarters think the party should turn further to the right. While a majority of moderates and liberals within the party advocate a centrist approach (66%), they make up fewer than a third (31%) of Republican voters overall. As a result, 60% of all Republican voters support a more conservative direction for the party.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    The St George Airport Scam, The I-15 Hush Money The attempt to get taxpayers to pay for a nuclear plant. The move the prison scam. All these and more to enrich the rulers and their friends. And still they get elected. They know they dont even have to make it appear to be doing a good job, they can be as corrupt as they want and still get elected.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    March 6, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    There is an eternal priciple as to why we need at least a 2 party system ---

    2 Nephi 2:11
    For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass...

    Totalitarianism can only exist in ONE-party systems.

    Nazi Germany
    North Korea
    ...and don't look now, but Utah-liban is leaning and headed that way.

  • LDS Cedar City, UT
    March 6, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    Thank you, Truthseeker. The Deseret News does in fact lean way to the right. Examples often include the editorial cartoons, which are overwhelmingly right-wing. President Obama is often the subject of the cartoons in an irreverent and harsh way.

    The DN could become an advocate for patriotism and respect for government. Unfortunately the paper is neither. As a veteran (Air Force pilot, 1970-76, including Vietnam), I try to be a patriotic citizen and not let partisan politics blind me.

    Our church's newspaper should also be non-partisan.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 6, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    "Today, it may be necessary for the Church to prod the membership to be open minded and to recognize the Christ's teachings are equally found in both parties."

    The LDS church owned paper, the Deseret News, gives a defacto endorsement of the Republican Party with how it covers issues, candidates and its editorial page--few to no moderate voices and zero moderate left columnists.

  • LDS Cedar City, UT
    March 6, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    The author has done an exceptional job describing political power and arrogance. It does apply to many of our Utah elected officials.

    This article can make a difference. Coming from a notable source, a professor at BYU and published in the Deseret News. This suggests the LDS Church at least indirectly sustains the value of this commentary.

    Now, what needs to happen is the Church step out and help Utah transition to the American 2-party system of governance. Behind closed doors, the Church wards and stakes are filled with discussion that is very right-wing. Obama is a 4-letter word for many members.

    Greater empahsis on finding the good in the Democrat platform and acknowledging the weaknesses of the Republican platform is a starting point.

    A hundred years ago the Church actually directed a certain fraction of members to vote for each of the two parties. Today, it may be necessary for the Church to prod the membership to be open minded and to recognize the Christ's teachings are equally found in both parties.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 6, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    Great column, Richard. I like Frank Herbert's take on Lord Acton: power doesn't necessarily corrupt; it merely attracts the corruptible.

  • Go Utes Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    A thousand of these types of articles could appear in the paper, and it will make little difference. A voter is not typically going to vote for the other party just to shake things up. What needs to happen is the democrats in Utah (or some other party) need to get their message out and show that they are a better alternative. The best recruitment is having great party leaders that Utahns can identify with and a party platform that appeals to a majority of Utahns. The Utah Democratic Party either does not have this or is failing to make people aware that it has this.

    For example, I think having an openly gay leader of the party was a PR mistake in this state. I am not saying that he is unfit for the job or even disparaging gay people. I am just saying that the reality in this state is that that was a poor move if gaining votes is the goal.

    Another problem is that Utahns too closely associate the state democratic party with the more left-leaning national party. I wonder if some new, third party in Utah could finally break into the republican stronghold.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 6, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    Foolish letter. We all know that there is NO corruption in Utah. Absolutely not. All our legislators and government officials are completely honest and upstanding and beyond temptation.

    If you dare to think that may not be true, then that must mean you're a . . . . a . . . . DEMOCRAT!


  • higv Dietrich, ID
    March 6, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    HOw can you force voters to alternate who they vote for. I rarely if ever voted for democrats. People need a better reason to vote for someone than the other guy has been in power too long.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 6, 2013 7:26 a.m.

    The best govt. is when the party in power today knows that it can be out of power tomorrow.

    A bit of fear of the public and the knowledge that everything you do might be exposed to light after the next election cycle is good.

  • On the other hand Riverdale, MD
    March 6, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    I agree with the author. Utah Republicans frequently adopt positions that the majority of Utahns disagree with, and scandalous behavior is increasingly common.

    One major obstacle to political balance in Utah is the misconceptions that abound about the Utah Democratic Party. The values of Utah Democrats are often more in line with the average Utahn's values than the Republican Party's values are, but because the same is not true of the national Democratic Party, the Utah Democratic Party suffers. Too few Utah voters bother to look at the qualifications and proposals of Democratic candidates (or Republican candidates, for that matter), relying instead on party affiliation alone. Consequently, Utah ends up with leaders who are all from the same party and who therefore believe they can gut GRAMA, scale back Utah's sex education curriculum, pay kickbacks to losing bidders on highway construction projects, etc. with impunity.