Before I start talking about political parties, I want my readers to understand my biases on the subject. I grew up outside of Boston, MA, and, by the time I was 16, I had almost choked to death on the extreme liberalism that my peers and teachers were shoving down my throat. Having lived in Provo, UT for the past 6 years, I often feel that familiar suffocation but from the conservatives. The liberals call me conservative, and the conservatives call me liberal--I figure that puts me safely in between. I hate it when liberals say conservatives are close-minded, and I hate it when I hear republicans call Obama an "evil socialist." Since turning 18, I have voted in 2 elections: the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election and the 2004 Presidential election. I voted for a different political party in each. I am a registered Independent, and I haven't yet researched enough to decide who to vote for in the Presidential election this year.
Now, does a Utah democrat have a chance at winning outside of Salt Lake? I'm not sure, but I think they should. My sister who lives in Orem says that when she doesn't know the candidates for the seemingly insignificant local offices, she just votes for the democrat in the hope that we could actually have a bipartisan government that will open-mindedly explore both sides of every issue the way the founders of our country envisioned. There are worse ways to make that decision--after voting for governor in 2002, I looked at the other local offices on the ballot, shrugged, and checked the little boxes next to the names that sounded coolest.
Yesterday evening, I went to an event for Utah County democrats. (I delivered the pizza.) Each of the candidates from the districts in Utah County introduced themselves and said a few words about their campaign. Most eye-opening information: of the 14,000 registered voters in Orem (or maybe just in this man's district?), 7,000 are declared unaffiliated. That tells me a democrat should have a chance. Most comforting comment: "If just a few of us [i.e. democrats] made it into office, we could work with the moderate republicans and make some important changes." He didn't say this to the public to make himself look good; he said it to a bunch of democrats who will likely vote for him whether or not he wants to cooperate with the republicans. So have no fear, Utah republicans, the Utah County democrats are not trying to bring down conservatism and turn Provo into San Francisco! What they want is a more moderate government. They want to work with the republicans to find cooperative solutions that represent both sides fairly.
RaDene is one of these sensible democrats. On a personal level, she is a democrat married to a republican. (Her husband, Harland, was with her at the democratic shindig.) From talking with her, I can tell she genuinely cares about representing her constituents and will lay aside her party's agenda to come to the best solutions possible. I hope the voters in District 16 are as sensible as she is. If you want to know more about her and get a sense of her sincere concern for the community's welfare, she is making herself uncommonly accessible. That's right, she's actually handing out her home and cell phone numbers--but read her website before you call.
What is it that McCain and other republicans in the national campaign have been saying? Oh yeah, it's time to "Take off our republican hats and put on our American hats." Take off your party hat--whichever it is--and put on your Utah hat.