Spending time with some mythical beings

Mar 14 2014 - 2:20pm

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As a general rule, I admire people who don't give up. Like Democrats in Utah.

"What are Democrats?" you ask. "And where might I see one?"

It's true, young Skywalker, they do exist. Even outside of Salt Lake City, Park City and Price. But you wouldn't know it to look at election results every two years.

On Tuesday, I will glimpse a handful of these rare beings by attending the Democratic Party caucus meeting in my Davis County neighborhood. This, even though I am not a registered Democrat. I am unaffiliated -- a status due more to laziness than high-minded philosophical independence.

Even though the paperwork says I'm not one of them, I am one of them. Bless their hearts, they welcome me. A cynic would say it's because there are so few Democrats and they can't afford to be picky. That's something I've never believed about politics in general and, specifically, in Utah. I mean, you can't swing a gun just pried from the cold, dead hands of a John Bircher/Glenn Becker without hitting a GOP voter, yet they've never been too discriminating - how else would you explain the likes of Mike Lee, John Swallow, Chris Buttars, Mark Shurtleff, Jason Chaffetz and ... well, you get where I'm going with this.

Democrats in Davis County are the political version of unicorns -- a species rumored to exist, yet never actually seen when you look at the list of elected officials. You expect that kind of situation in Utah County, where men and women alike accessorize by dangling tea bags from their earlobes. But in my corner of Davis County, there are so many government employees you would think Democrats could make a respectable showing.

But they don't. Instead, most of the people who earn a government paycheck in my neck of the woods rail against the guv'mint, complain about our Kenyan commander in chief, same-sex marriage and the climate-change fiction even as they collect their federal pay, their retirement and old-age benefits, and shop at Uncle Sam's subsidized store on Hill Air Force Base.

All to an audience of nodding ditto-heads.

Still, there are Democrats who care; Democrats who look at the odds and still step up to the plate to take a swing.

Two years ago, my friend Brad Asay spent all kinds of time and plenty of his own money running on the Democratic ticket for the District 13 seat in the Utah House of Representatives. He placed signs, published specific policy positions, spelled out his goals and walked and walked and walked the district knocking on doors to meet people and campaign for their votes.

As a precinct chaiman and a friend, I spent an evening with him meeting voters in my neighborhood. People were surprised to see a Democrat on their doorsteps, and I am sure he won votes that night.

But Brad's opponent was a Republican who first won election to the seat in 2000. In 2012, his arrogance -- oops, I mean confidence -- led him to avoid all but two token debates. In reality, he didn't have to campaign to win a fairly lopsided re-election.

Still, there are Democrats like Brad who take up the challenge because supermajority one-party rule creates, for example:

* The refusal to accept federal Medicaid funds -- tax money Utahns have already paid -- to help insure Utahns who are poor, while lawmakers enjoy gold-plated health insurance coverage.

* No limits on individual campaign contributions to Utah politicians.

* So-called "Zion curtains" in new restaurants.

* Last-place-in-the-nation funding for public education.

* A rush to relocate the state prison to free up land for real estate development.

And there's more. Plenty more.

This is why I'll be huddling with the unicorns ... er, Democrats on Tuesday.

Email Don Porter at dportercolumn@hotmail.com.

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