This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
New political parties do not form every day, but last week a group of citizens started one in Utah. Why? What would lead us to decide to abandon the two major parties and start afresh?
We believe Utah needs a new political party because the two major parties have been captured by the ideological extremes. They no longer represent those citizens who are more in the middle – more moderate – politically.
Who are these citizens? People who are not driven by intense ideology or an overriding commitment to a single issue. We are citizens who don't see the other side as automatically evil.
We want to find pragmatic solutions to our policy problems rather than continue the partisan gridlock that characterizes today's political system. We want to send representatives back to Washington who will seek to find common ground rather than foster more ideological wars. We want our representatives to be the ones who bring other representatives together rather than join the excessive partisanship in Washington. Our first candidate example is United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett, son of the late U.S. Senator Bob Bennett, who will be a voice for reason in Washington.
Here in Utah, we want to recruit, support and vote for legislators who will not become extreme by their association with the current party caucuses in the Legislature. We oppose the closed caucuses the Republican majority uses to make policy. But, unlike the Democrats, we will elect legislators who will work to represent voters across the state rather than ignore or criticize them.
We want our legislators to create bipartisan solutions to our education system rather than to continue to kick the can down the road hoping someone at some future time solves the problem. That doesn't have to happen anymore. We are the ones who, if given the chance, will take the lead to create a vision for education that adequately funds our schools and increases the quality of education for all.
We believe we can bring the federal government and the communities of Utah together to solve our public lands issues rather than talk past one another. We believe we can set the tone of a more compassionate approach to refugees that befits the unique background of Utah. We believe we can reform our tax system to eliminate tax breaks that rob our education system.
We also support political reforms that will bring the "people" back into "government by the people." These include instituting term limits for statewide officials and legislators, forming an independent redistricting commission to prevent legislators from drawing their own district lines, imposing stricter campaign finance limits on state and local candidates and increasing the number of non-partisan elections for offices such as school board, county commissioner and other county offices and the state attorney general.
These reforms will make government in Utah better, as well as increase public participation. Elections will be more meaningful with more competition, the public will play a greater role in deciding who our representatives are and government officials will become more accountable to the voter rather than to the party.
We also believe our party will set an example for other states. That's why our motto is "Better Government Starts Here." We can be the model for other states seeking a way out of the extremism that has captured American politics.
We know this is an uphill climb. But we also consider this to be an opportune moment – really, a necessary moment. Utahns have the chance to set a new course – to prove not only that life is elevated in Utah, but so is our political system.
If you are like many Utahns who feel your party has left you, come home to a party you can feel comfortable in. Or if you are an independent who has not find a party matching your moderate approach, look closely at how different we are. Come to unitedutah.org and join us. Better government starts here.
Richard Davis is the chair of the newly formed centrist party, United Utah Party.