America is already great and the true Republicans shouldn't be afraid to say so. | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

America is already great and the true Republicans shouldn't be afraid to say so. 

Private Eye

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My first job was cleaning the floors and toilets in the Moonlight Gardens tavern in Lead Mine, up in Bingham Canyon in the Oquirrh Mountains. I was 12.

Today, Bingham Canyon is no more and Lead Mine is abandoned. I think of Lead Mine all the time, as it was nearly the perfect place to grow up—ethnically and religiously diverse, blue collar, the entire mountainside as a playground and we had our own creek (the "crick"): an open sewer across the way. America was great then.

My second job was in Riverton. One day, our Bingham High School counselors announced some part-time work loading chickens into the newly built chicken coops at about 12600 South and 2700 West. Myself, Jeff Tibolla and what seemed like all of our Mexican buddies jumped at the chance to earn a couple bucks an hour.

Imagine a fire drill with chickens and you have it—thousands and thousands of chickens passed hand to hand, then crammed into tiny cages where they would lay eggs till they died, never seeing sunlight again.

That job led to some of us hiring on to build even more chicken coops and soon there were more chickens living in a couple of acres in Riverton than there were residents of nearly every city in Salt Lake County. America was great then, too.

Riverton was part of our backyard—our playground, full of sugar beets and cornfields crisscrossed with dirt roads that were the perfect places to do all sorts of dubious things. Cold beer, loud music, rowdy boys and not-so-shy girls were often involved. But Riverton has changed and I barely recognize the place.

The current Mayor of Riverton—a cliché, family-values, handsome fellow by the name of Trent Staggs—is running for U.S. Senate. He was born about the time that the greatness of Riverton began dying down.

I'll bet right now that I knew, as a percentage, more of Riverton's residents back then than he ever will. Heck, if you knew the Becksteads, Butterfields and Hamiltons, you knew half the town. If I were Staggs, I would have run on the Save the Chickens platform.

Staggs has accepted an endorsement from our former president and recently convicted felon, Donald Trump. Staggs, lacking any substantial policy or worldview position, has taken to believing that endorsement is the fuel that will deliver his cold NIMBY spine to Washington. He's not at all like the Riverton friends I once knew (and of whom some are surely on Team Staggs, may God bless them anyway).

Still, none of my friends fall to the measure of other Staggs endorsers, like accused child sex abuser Matt Gaetz, pronounced vaccine double-dribbler John Stockton, sad sack wannabe Kari Lake or perspicacity-deprived Tommy Tuberville. Add in the likes of Rand Paul and Vivek Ramaswamy and Staggs has the Seven Deadly Sins of modern American politics filling his sails.

It won't matter. John Curtis will crush him like a bug in the upcoming Republican Senate primary race, because—and I do believe this—most Republicans are normal and not as cynically entitled as Staggs.

I also believe that myself and most Republicans have the same sense that despite all the yahoo-ing, those same years that bookmark my own non-great timespan (starting with the Trump escalator ride in 2015 to the post-COVID year of 2022) would not be considered their greatest era, either.

Trouble is, most Republicans won't stand up to the chaos created by the former president and are wont to share the blame in being a part of it. They allow themselves to derisively be called RINOs when it is they who are the true Republicans, not the low achievers like the unashamed Sen. Mike Lee who usurp the name Republican but fear identifying their ilk as who they really are: Members of the Trump Party.

On that measure, only true Republican John "Frugal" Dougall can honestly claim to be a person of high ethics, faith and morality, for it's he alone who has renounced anything to do with Donald Trump. He's running for Congress, and time will tell if Utahns reward him with a seat in D.C.

I wish he were—perhaps even for the seat currently held by Rep. Celeste Maloy who, despite being a Southern Utah Cedar City native, is somehow my Second Congressional District Rep in northern Salt Lake City. I thought Maloy had her primary locked up, being not only the incumbent, but also knowing her opponent, Colby Jenkins, was given a betrayal endorsement kiss on the mouth by Mike Lee. Ick!

I figured Lee's involvement would send Maloy to the top—but nope. This week, Maloy accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump.

They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but Lordy, I never expected that from Maloy.

I believe in the United States court system and our rules of law. I also believe that any woman who stands with a serial sexual abuser will never have my respect or support. I'm voting for the Democrat anyway.

You may sense, reading this, that I'm a bit angry today. I am. As I type, I'm looking out the window where our dear family companion, Gracie the wide-eyed chocolate Labrador, lies warming in her final morning sunrise.

She is the loyal epitome of what we humans will always envy: she loves without judgment.

Lymphoma has her. She will die today. It can be tempting to forgive Maloy and the rest for their Trump dance on certain matters, but not for hating dogs.

America was great when I lived in Bingham Canyon. It was great when I worked in Riverton. America has always been great. Anyone who disagrees is lying about that. I do believe in MAGA though: Make America Gracie Again.

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Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately described the candidacy of State Auditor John Dugall, who is running for Congress in Utah's Third Congressional District.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

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