It had been awhile since much was seen or heard of Greg Hughes, the former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. Though he has been high on the list of those said, by what the late pundit William Safire always called The Great Mentioner, to be planning a run for governor next year.
Hughes poked his head out the other day, the star of one of two competing rallies in front of the local office of Rep. Ben McAdams.
McAdams had the good judgment to be somewhere else that afternoon, so he didn’t get to see Hughes lead a coagulation of local folks who are mad at the congressman for taking what amounts these days to a bold stand in favor of the U.S. House of Representatives doing its constitutional duty.
Can you imagine?!?
Hughes, Utah’s early adopter of the brand of politics practiced by the Current Occupant, is steamed at the only Democrat in the Utah congressional delegation because McAdams has figured out that a House inquiry into whether or not the president deserves to be impeached is, well, how you figure out whether or not the president deserves to be impeached.
Even that is way too much for Hughes and his followers. The former speaker spoke about how the House Intelligence Committee or any other House panel has no call to go poking around in the president’s treasonous and unconstitutionally self-enriching behaviors because it hadn’t been authorized to do so by a vote of the whole House.
Even though such a requirement is not and never was any part of the Constitution or House rules. Such oversight is exactly what House committees are supposed to do. Just ask Hillary Clinton. Or Bill.
Of course, lying for political benefit is just what one would expect of Hughes and other supporters of this president. Not only is it all they’ve got, it’s the core of what they are.
Which is why, if Utah is a state that values freedom and honesty as much as it claims to, Hughes, because he is a supporter of this president, will soon disappear from sight again. Permanently this time.
The sitting president of the United States is a fascist. That’s not opinion. That’s fact.
Though the definition of fascist is pretty plastic, there being no fascist version of the Communist Manifesto, the Federalist or the Bible that followers and their rivals can refer to. And there being no reason to believe that, even if there were such a tome, everyone would agree on what it meant any more than they all agree on the meaning of the Communist Manifesto, the Federalist or, especially, the Bible.
Fascism, as near as the term can be nailed down, means a style of politics that promotes racial identity and purity. An idealized, if not altogether mythical, past and a promise of a muscular, if not downright violent, return to it. Fear of foreigners and strangers. Resentment of intellectuals and public servants and a mistrust of free speech and a free media.
That’s our man in the White House. And the Kremlin. And the Forbidden City.
In Utah, not so much.
Here, as in Washington, other aspects of the fascist mindset are in evidence. They include the intermingling of government, corporations and religion — three things that, in a democracy, are separate, sometimes in alliance and, at times, usefully at odds.
Where fascism rules, it comes to power as a perhaps uncomfortable alliance with capitalism. Each plays the other as an an ally or as a useful idiot, or both.
Fascism, Utah style, or fascism lite, is not violent or even particularly hateful. It’s just greedy.
It manipulates government policy to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is pay to play.
It sets public policy to private benefit, moves state prisons, creates inland ports, seeks to privatize and despoil public lands, tries to divert sparse public school funding to private schools and, when frustrated in that attempt, to for-profit charter school managers.
It “reforms” taxes by making them more regressive. It denies health care to broad swaths of the population and gets away with it by making the barely-scraping-by feel good because the pathetic already-sunk aren’t getting a taxpayer-provided benefit.
This puny version of fascism is powerful here, but it does not altogether rule. Hughes is likely to fail in his attempt to win the Republican nomination for governor, losing to either #NeverHim Spencer Cox or, if he decides to run, fled-from-him Jon Huntsman.
Such a shift in the orientation of the state’s dominant party would augur well for a future in which we hear no more of either our embarrassment in chief or his leading Utah minion.
May we not see their like again.
George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, should probably just admit that he’s a fan of freedom because he’s too disorganized and misanthropic to be a good fascist.