Richard Davis: Can Democratic Party turn itself around to win back Utah voters?

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 29, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    Until Utahns can actually separate Utah Democrats from national Democrats than the Utah Democratic Party is basically dead except in maybe SLC and Moab.

    But as one party takes hold in Utah I do believe in time people will "revolt" somewhat against the Republican leadership. People are realizing they have too much power to insulate themselves and others with generally conservative values might start to figure out that the Utah Republican values on education are nearly paramount to child abuse.

    In regards to the LDS church, yes you can be a Democrat, Libertarian and even Communist and be good in church standing. Utah Republican Mormons are a minority in world view among their own church members.

    However, Utah is its special case and whether the church leadership doesn't promote one party over another directly it has in many respects. Bottom line Benson said what he said and he came the President of the LDS church. Hugh B. Brown and Marlin Jensen did not reach this level of leadership in the church. Combine Benson ascending to the Presidency at the same time of Reagan becoming POTUS, and the dye was cast in Utah.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    March 29, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    2 bits:

    I don't think Leavitt was appointed to the head of the EPA because he believed in it like no other. He was appointed by a conservative president who wanted to appoint another conservative to see the EPA's influence lessened. I guess this can be debated whether this is a good thing or not but that's about that on that. It is similar to the idea when Reagan appointed James Watt Secretary of the Interior. Watt wasn't there because he or Reagan wanted to expand the national parks or promote green energies. He was there to help dismantle those programs and open up federal lands to oil drilling and exploration. Again, the debate whether or not this is good can be debated but Watt was far from some environmentalist wanting to protect our natural beauty and resources as Leavitt was no proponent of EPA regulating businesses and industry.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 28, 2014 12:27 p.m.

    Lies vs. Truth

    "Utah Democrats believe in a comprehensive approach that protects reproductive freedom while fostering personal responsibility and education for thoughtful and moral decisions about sexuality, childbearing, adoption, and parenting."


    Not ONE word about "promoting abortions".
    Lies, Distortions, Half-truths.

    And WHO is the Father of Lies?

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2014 2:49 p.m.

    if that happened to you, I am truly sorry. I have no sympathy for people who abuse and assault others. The DN will not post what I think should be their punishment.

    That being said, I think it extremely disingenuous to imply that that is the main reason behind all or even most abortions committed today. The vast majority are for convenience sake, or gender selection, or “I don’t want to be stuck with a Downs Syndrome child” mentality or other purely selfish reasons.

    For situations as you describe, abortion should be a safe and legal alternative, most Americans and Utahans support that position, reasonable restrictions are supported by most people.

    But that is not what is pushed by the dems, and we all know it. Unlimited and free access to abortion is their rally cry, no restrictions – period! is their demand.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    RE: Lost in DC "Regardless, does not matter who is selling what, I cannot support dems when they so strongly support abortion, SSM, and other anti-family positions. cannot do it. will not do it. will discourage it among all within my sphere of influence." I am not a Democrat and I will not presume to speak for them. Given your remarks on abortion I assume that you are not a woman who has been subject to an abuser. If you had ever been, or if someone close to you had ever been, you would understand why abortion must be safe and legal. I don't like the practice, but it is an option which much be available to women. I speak from understanding and experience.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    sorry, not a distortion. Why do you think the Hyde amendment has been pushed so hard if not for the fact so many dems want abortion on demand. Unlimited and free access to abortion - what is that if NOT abortion on demand? Hopefully that is not your stand, and why you call it a distortion, but that is what they demand.

    You say I have been deceived about dems. You mean they do NOT back abortion and SSM? You mean they NOT see the government as the first and best solution to every problem? You mean the other comments about former dem chairmen being openly hostile to Mormons are lies? You mean statements by other dems that for too long their own party was admittedly the anti-Mormon party are untrue? Pleas explain how hatch was responsible for dem positons and statements. not buying it.

    Regardless, does not matter who is selling what, I cannot support dems when they so strongly support abortion, SSM, and other anti-family positions. cannot do it. will not do it. will discourage it among all within my sphere of influence.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2014 11:19 a.m.

    From every statement I've heard from the pulpit... the church is totally neutral on which party, but they want you to be involved (regardless of the party).

    I can't speak for all the members, or the culture. But polls and voting results speak pretty clearly on that. But the church doesn't force that, or mandate that, and they shouldn't. It's up to each individual to decide for themselves.


    Remember... You don't have to be active in either party to vote in the election. Just to vote on party business, (which makes total sense to me that party members pick the platform, the candidates they will support as a party, etc. Not Democrats or independents deciding what candidate the Republicans must support with their funds and their organizing efforts, in the General election).

    The General election is the most important vote where every citizen get's a voice.

    It makes no sense for Democrats to expect to be able to pick who the Republican party's candidates will be (or Republicans expect to pick the Democrat's candidates for that mater).

    We ALL vote in the general election (not on every party issue).

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 27, 2014 6:34 a.m.

    @ lost in DC, laugh all you like, but it was a very deliberate effort by the GOP, led by Orrin Hatch, to associate the GOP and the Church as a means to gain political power. It was successful. By the way, Democrats don't call for abortion on demand, that's a distortion. I if you want to look at the facts, abortion has gone down under Democratic Administrations, in large part because they are more interested at getting at the real root of the problem and not trying to bad sexual activity, which never works in any society or church. The reality is that your attitude is exactly what the GOP sought to infuse into the LDS population, to deceive and mislead people about the Democrats, and they have been successful, obviously.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 27, 2014 5:40 a.m.

    GZE said, "What are you talking about? Franklin Roosevelt leaned further left than just about anyone else who has ever held public office."

    What you said is exactly what I'm talking about. Too many Democrats today - the ones elected to public office - are beholden to the same wealthy class interests as their so-called opponents in the Republican Party. That's why there is such an income disparity in our nation today. That's why we are moving closer and closer to being a third world nation where the extremely wealthy live decadent lives while the vast majority live in abject poverty. In my opinion even the most dedicated capitalist doesn't want that to happen, but it's happening.

  • JenicaJessen Riverton, UT
    March 26, 2014 11:09 p.m.

    Does the LDS church officially support a political party? No.
    But Utah Mormon culture is basically convinced that if you vote for a Democrat you'll lose your soul.

    In other news, not a single Democrat even bothered to RUN for office this year in Utah County. I don't care how you feel about welfare or gay marriage or immigration-- that's just plain unhealthy. You can't have a thriving democracy if you aren't willing to discuss more than one idea.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 26, 2014 7:11 p.m.

    Utah voters don't want to hear the other side. They're culturally trained to believe there is only one way to think about things.
    Many of them blur believing in religion is the same as believing in politics.
    It would be amazing if Utahns where aware there are two ways to look at issues.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    March 26, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    I have never seen the Democratic party so virulently anti-family and anti-life as it has become today!

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    March 26, 2014 3:56 p.m.

    Um, what makes you think that only describes the Democrats? Like same sex marriage, republicans don't agree with it, but they love freedom, so they allow it anyways. Abortion, I mean, just because only anti abortion activists bomb or kill abortion doctors doesn't mean that the conservative side is repressive. What about(going back to when the GOP was in power) the fact that anyone who critizized a GWB decision wasn't a patriot, and hated america. Yup, the GOP sure believes in the free exchange of ideas and letting people be free to make their own choices. As long as it's the choice they want you to make, and the idea that they want you to believe in.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 26, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    fas·cism [ fá shìzzəm ]
    1."Dictatorial movement: any movement, ideology, or attitude that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism."
    Pretty much sums up the modern Democratic agenda! That's why red states reject demos and blue states embrace demos.

    March 26, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    ECR says, the Democratic Party in Utah and the national party have abandoned the principles of Franklin Roosevelt and other who were trying to safe the country by bolstering the lower and middle classes.

    What are you talking about? Franklin Roosevelt leaned further left than just about anyone else who has ever held public office. Most of today's Democrats are not as liberal as FDR was.

    And Democrats are still trying to save the Country and bolster the lower and middle classes.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    @VST 12:50 p.m.

    Re: "that is exactly what the Republican Party has been doing recently, hence, the reason why they haven’t been able with win the Presidency and never will until they adopt a different political approach"...

    I don't know if you realize this but... we had a Republican President just 6 years ago (so it's not like they haven't been able to win in a long time). And they could win in 2016.

    It's hardly a trend yet.

    It's when you think the other party has no chance of ever winning again... that you get lazy or sloppy and they win.


    In case you think there's some trend where Republicans have been out a long time, and probably won't ever win again... That plays well in a partisan dominated mind, but real history is not on your side.

    Check history... you will see 2 trends:
    -Unless the President is turrble... we give them 2 terms.
    -We always switch parties after he's had his 8 years.
    (The only exceptions to this rule since 1940s is when somebody takes over mid-term after a resignation or assassination)

    So don't count Republicans out yet...

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 26, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    UT Brit - I'm not sure if I agree wit your assertion. I don't remember any of their editorials saying "This is the position of the LDS Church." Yes, they are owned by the church and they promote most conservative positions on issues of the day but I don't think their doing that is a contradiction of the Church Policy. They're just another editorial board espousing their opinions. Kind of like the Wall Street Journal. The rest of the paper is excellent and presents new as news. Th editorial page is totally partisan. Maybe you could say the same for the NT Times

    Open Minded Mormon - I was alive and heard Ezra Taft Benson's statement of 50 years ago. I also recall that about the same time Hugh B. Brown said, "...a Mormon can be a Democrat or a Socialist and still be a good church member." I didn't believe what President Benson said and I'm sure there were others who didn't either, We certainly didn't take it as church policy. It's not church doctrine and never has been.

    And as for your ward member, he sounds a bit closed minded.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    Open Minded Mormon,
    RE "If the EPA is for it, then I'm against it!"... and judging people based on your political stereotypes, what other people say/do, etc...

    No doubt you think because this guy said that... it applies to all people of his "type" (Republicans, Utahns, whatever).

    In reality all that means is... one guy thinks that. But you pretend it validates your whole stereotype of people of his "type".


    Here's something that contradicts your stereotype (Utahns hate the EPA, Republicans hate the EPA, Mormons hate the EPA, or whatever)...

    Michael Leavitt was head of the EPA. He's a Utahn. He's a Republican. He's a Mormon. See... your stereotypes don't work!

    Stereotyping people never works (not just your lame stereotypes). It's just a shortcut practice of generalizing people and grouping them to fit nicely into your preconceived assumptions of them... but they don't work in reality, because in reality, people don't always fit your mold or your assumptions about them.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 26, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    Don't much care if Democrats win or not. I'm a Democrat because of one principle: We're all in this together. By contrast, the Republican principle is: You're on your own. Good for the Republicans. I prefer my principle.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 26, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    “A dem party opposed to women’s and workers’ rights, and unfettered activities of religion”. You oppose the 1st amendment?

    You must have read a different article than what was written – I see none of that there. Nor in GOP positions – just boogeymen created by dems to keep the ill-informed voters in their camp.

    In the 1970s the GOP usurped the church? HAHAHAHA. That is when dems embraced abortion and thereby alienated most LDS. I laud Elder Jensen and Pres Faust (RIP) for retaining their membership in a party that you correctly say directs extreme bigotry and hatred in their direction. I applaud their quixotic attempts to try to restore/maintain some morality in the dem party.

    The dems have the low information voters locked up, hence BO’s re-election

    If you do not understand why the GOP has Utah locked up, I guess you do not understand how anathema abortion and SSM are to most Utahans. If someone is so wrong on something so basic, how can we expect them to be right on something more complex? If they say 2+2=7, I cannot their accept their algebraic conclusions.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    March 26, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    Burke, VA
    Many will scoff at my statement but the ONLY thing taught by church leaders about political issues is as follows:

    The Church does not:

    Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
    Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to.
    Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

    The Church does:

    Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities.

    10:15 a.m. March 26, 2014


    True and Agreed --

    There is an entire generation of Utah Mormons who heard Ezra T. Benson --
    and his words echo 50 years later.

    1 of 2 things will need to happen --

    1. This generation dies off, and the ship rights itself.

    2. The Global Church -- majority of Saints who live outside of Utah, and the United States.

    BTW -- I went to our GOP caucus meeting.
    A very outspoken member of my ward stated this --

    "If the EPA is for it, then I'm against it!"

    This sort of blind partisan hatred -- the kind that trumps Right over Wrong -- will doom the Latter-Day Saints.

    BTW ... he won the delegate vote.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 26, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    Mr. Davis glosses over two of the main reasons many Utahans won’t vote dem and totally misses the third. Most Utahans do not support abortion on demand or gay marriage, and those two points are central to dems. He glosses over these and says dems just haven’t marketed themselves well enough. Then he says we really don’t want conservative solutions, we just don’t want dems.

    He totally missed that we refuse to buy the “dependency on government for all good” that is the central dem tenet. Abortion on demand (publicly funded), gay marriage, and government as the fount of all good are the dem tenets we reject.

    These tenets are central to the dem desire to privatize the gain and socialize the risk.

    Want to engage in reckless and/or irresponsible behavior? Don’t worry, have fun, dems will make sure someone else pays for your contraceptives or abortion or AIDS drugs.

    Families don’t matter as long as you feel good about yourself right now – let society pick up the pieces of the long term mess you create.

    Got a problem? Only GOVERNMENT can fix it

    THAT is why dems lose here.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 26, 2014 10:47 a.m.


    I agree with you but I do not believe that "economic ideas" are the number one issue for many in Utah or in the GOP base.

    When one looks historically, the parties do not differ greatly on how they govern concerning economics. That is why there is such a push to put social issues on the forefront.

    Our politicians would much rather differentiate the parties based on SSM and Abortion and discuss those issues than have to talk about what they would do differently concerning SS and Medicare.

    I guess that what I am saying is that if I were deeply religious, I would lean GOP, although I do not see a night and day difference. It probably comes down more to packaging. Because the realities are much more nuanced than concrete.

    2 bits. I do not disagree with the article.

    However, he writes that

    "Instead, it becomes focused on other priorities such as ideological purity, and therefore narrows its base rather than broadens it."

    I see this statement as much more applicable to the GOP nationally along with the Dems in Utah.

  • UT Brit London, England
    March 26, 2014 10:46 a.m.


    The editorial stance of this church owned paper is a direct contradiction to that statement.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 26, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    @ Joe Blow
    Your analysis will fall on death ears. When the GOP finally starts to acknowledge our country's problems and opportunities and offer up real solutions that they can get thru congress and signed by the WH they'll get America's support. Until that time, they'll continue to believe all the talking points of entitlements and low information voters.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 26, 2014 10:20 a.m.


    "I understand why Utah is solidly Red." I don't. Well, I guess I do, but probably for a different reason than you do. If most Latter-day Saints understood Republican economic ideas and the inevitable results they will produce, they would be abhorred and would probably stop voting blindly for self-proclaimed conservative candidates. It's amazing the damage voter ignorance can create.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 26, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    Marxist - While I totally agree with your assessment that the Democratic Party in Utah and the national party have abandoned the principles of Franklin Roosevelt and other who were trying to safe the country by bolstering the lower and middle classes, I have take exception with your assertion that this or any other newspaper is the voice of "what LDS are expected to think." Any member of the LDS church who thinks that way is not following the precepts taught in church and elsewhere throughout the church. Many will scoff at my statement but the ONLY thing taught by church leaders about political issues is as follows:

    The Church does not:

    Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
    Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to.
    Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

    The Church does:

    Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities.

    Anyone who advocates otherwise is misinformed. Progressive politics is more closely related to LDS church doctrine than conservative politics. Joseph Smith said, "I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves."

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    I didn't see anything I disagreed with in the letter. It made logical sense to me.

    But I see some totally disagree with his analysis.

    I guess that's why they call it the "Opinion Section".

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 26, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    "The reason Demos win in blue states is because of entitlements, not values"

    So, then why are Republicans winning in the states that have the most NON federal income tax payers?

    Top 10 states with people who pay ZERO federal income tax. You know. A large chunk of the 47% that Romney was talking about.

    Not one blue state in the mix.

    New Mexico
    South Carolina

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    March 26, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    FT: The reason Demos win in blue states is because of entitlements, not values. Of course entitlements must eventually be paid for which is why if you value self reliance, family values, freedom and personal achievement, you probably will not vote Democratic.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 26, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    I agree with Thid Barker that voters in Utah, Idaho and other red states have problems with the Democrat's platform. But, it's not because of their "high values", instead its due to their different values and priorities. The GOP has the "low information" voter locked up. The best chance the Democrats have of courting more local support is to continue to win national elections and be who they are. Look no further than SLC, it was once red too. But as outsiders moved in, the city became more progressive and it is at the point that a Republican has little chance of winning the mayorship. Utah is progressing, rather slowly, but look at SLC and Moab as examples where voters have shunned the GOP and the policies and values they offer.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 26, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    There are two problems. Until they are addressed, nothing will change. First, LDS culture is intertwined with the Republican Party. It didn't used to be that way. Beginning in the early 1970s, the GOP has usurped the church, and the church has allowed it to happen despite a weak attempt by Marlin Jensen to reverse it. Congressman Jim Hansen viciously attacked Elder Jensen and the effort went away. The GOP=LDS culture is reinforced daily by this newspaper. In the end, this mutual identification will be counterproductive to the interests of the Church. The second problem is with the Utah Democratic Party itself. It eschews Mormons and has allowed itself to be the non-Mormon party. Several years ago, I heard a state party chairman say that over his dead body would be allow a Mormon to the the party candidate for Governor. Hello? So many LDS Democrats have basically withdrawn from politics and the party is left with virtually nothing in an LDS dominated state. My hopes for a two party system are gone. Non-LDS Democrats don't want Mormons, and the Church system doesn't seem to want to fix things. So, here we are.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 26, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    "People who compromise their values have no values!"

    Talk about buying into the party line.

    So, how about detailing out the values. Maybe just 3 or 4.

    Then look at the elected Republicans in this country along with the general Republican electorate.

    I will take a shot at what the "values" you may be talking about. Feel free to correct me.

    Abortion? You believe that the general GOP population wants to outlaw abortion? Not according to the poles

    Gay Marriage? What percentage of self proclaimed GOP voters are opposed to all abortions?
    Universal Background checks for guns? Check out those polls. Americans, including Republicans overwhelmingly favor that.

    The GOP controlled all 3 branches of Govt for 6 years under GW Bush.
    What did they accomplish, or even attempt to accomplish on your "values"

    Yes, one can make an argument for voting Republican based on "more aligned", but to paint this as black and white between R and D is fairyland.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    March 26, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    The problem for voters in my state and Utah is the Democrat party platform, period! What they stand for is in direct opposition to everything most voters in Red states esteem to be important and conflicts with our highest values. In other words, we have value conflicts with Demos. People who compromise their values have no values!

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 26, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    So basically the good professor is promoting a local democratic party that is against women's rights and workers rights, but is for the rights of corporations and the absolute unfettered activities of religions.

    And this would represent democratic principles how?

    Actually the Utah democratic party is divided into two sections. Those Mormon Democrats who are Democrats by family tradition, but believe, act, and vote as Republicans, and the non Mormon Democrats who believe, act, and vote as Democrats.

    Forty years ago the social divide in the country was not what it is today and the divide in the two parties was not what it is.

    Civil Rights was just gaining a foot hold, Women's rights the same and it's that very progress the good professor wants us to deny in order to go back to the "good old days".

    No thanks sir.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 26, 2014 5:40 a.m.

    "When a political party gives up on winning elections, it no longer reaches out to the voters."

    And when a political party cant lose an election, it also has no need to reach out to the voters.

    I understand why Utah is solidly Red. But, a one party state is not beneficial in national elections. The GOP cant lose, and the Dems cant win. Why bother to court Utah?

    Compare that to Iowa.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2014 12:37 a.m.

    I emphatically disagree with Professor Davis. One of the reasons for the rightward shift of American politics is a Democratic Party which cares more about electing Democrats than supporting the working class - middle and lower income people who struggle to make ends meet. The national Democratic Party has been complicit in the maldistribution of wealth in this country, being apologetic about leftist politics, allowing right-wingers to define the debate.

    I want a Utah Democratic Party which at least verbally defends the interests of labor, women, and the economically stressed. You say that such Democrats can't be elected. So what? We already have one Republican Party we don't need another.

    Just electing Democrats, without substance, is not going to get the job done. I joined the Socialist Party USA after giving up on both the national and Utah Democratic Parties.

    If you want to know what LDS are expected to think just read this editorial page regularly. They are expected to oppose Obamacare, view organized labor negatively, oppose SSM, be oblivious to the top heavy distributions of wealth and income. This doesn't give Democrats anything to work with.