Open season on Utah Democrats has come and gone, and the hunting was pretty good. After last Tuesday’s elections, the already depleted party lost seats in both houses of the Utah Legislature, to the surprise of no one, really. Not that it mattered very much. With a super-super Republican majority in place and with a Republican governor to back up all the malfeasance, Utah Democrats were already quite marginal as an effective group. Indeed, they re-define the notion of loyal opposition.
I voted mostly Democrat last week, as I usually do. My own suspicion is that it is mostly Democrats who vote mostly Democrat, there being something fair-minded about being a Democrat in the first place that allows for straying from the party ticket. Not so with Republicans, though. Republicans are united—united in their distrust of Democrats and united in their fear of all things “liberal.” Never mind that they tend to promote, and then elect, a good number of nincompoops. At least they are conservative nincompoops, and that’s the ticket.
Whoever it was that stuck the “liberal” tag on the Democrats and then demonized it either did a great thing for America or a great injustice, depending on which major party you affiliate with. For example, a bit of hay has been made that the Senate seat formerly held by the late Pete Suazo, a Democrat, and then his wife Alicia, was won by a black, conservative Republican. Some say dirty tricks played a role, including tossing the “liberal” brand on Nisa Sisneros, who filled the Democratic ticket when Mrs. Suazo decided not to run. Even The Salt Lake Tribune ignorantly labeled that district as “liberal.”
Go figure. A neighborhood comprised of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, predominantly blue-collar workers is deemed as “liberal” here in Utah. In a race that was determined by only a handful of votes, the specter of casting the aspersion of “liberal” onto Sisneros seems to have worked. My guess is that the new senator, James Evans, will do as well as the rest of the Republican majority will allow him. They will pose with him in displays of “compassionate conservatism.” Then, come next election, they will stay as far from his district as possible, just as they always have. If Sisneros lost because she was mis-aligned as an evil “liberal,” I consider that an injustice. She’s merely a Democrat, a dying breed.
Not all the way dead, though. Why, up in Davis County, Democrats got just over 15 percent of the vote after nearly 80 percent of ballots cast were straight-party Republican. Can it be that not a single Democrat is worthy of that 80 percent? Certainly some of those people—Dave Thomas paramount among them—are worthy of that county. But they are Democrats, thus “liberal,” thus unworthy of even minor consideration from a Republican majority that grows more cynical as it grows larger. The Legacy Highway mess, a present wrapped in part by Davis County conservatives, is but one example.
Saddam Hussein recently got a 100 percent voter approval rating. If we keep this kind of voting up, this kind of redistricting, Utah can be just as ugly. If it isn’t already. The trick for some, is to merely get rid of the rest of us, and when the word “liberal” runs its course, watch out for the mustard gas.