Brian King: Utah Republicans are wrong to back Trump

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) From left, Utah gubernatorial candidates, Jeff Burningham, Aimee Winder Newton, Jon Huntsman, Thomas Wright, Greg Hughes and Spencer Cox pose for a group photo with Silicon Slopes Executive Director Clint Betts, center after a debate at the 2020 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit convention, at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.

On Jan. 31, in the gubernatorial debate of Republicans hosted by the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, the candidates were asked if they supported the reelection of Donald Trump.

Lt Gov. Spencer Cox said, “[Trump’s] style of politics is not the Utah Republican style of politics. We just have to understand and accept that.”

Clint Betts, the debate moderator, then asked the candidates, “Is there anyone on this stage who does not support President Trump?” No one raised a hand, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

What are we to think of all the Republican candidates supporting the reelection of the current president? Former Gov. Jon Huntsman justified his support based on the president being “an economic dynamo” for the country. But this isn’t accurate. Our economy grew at a similar, sometimes better, rate for numerous years in a row during the presidency of Barack Obama.

In December, 2017, the Republican Congress passed and Trump signed a huge tax cut bill that goosed the economy by disproportionately benefiting the wealthiest of the wealthy. The bill has probably delayed the next economic downturn that is part of the well-established business cycle. But at what cost?

Since the bill went into effect the federal deficit has risen dramatically to levels not seen since he depths of the Great Recession. Very few Republicans have raised a peep about that. It appears when Democrats control Congress or the White House, budget deficits are a huge threat to our well-being. But not so much when Republicans want to cut taxes to try to spur temporary economic growth.

Reasons to not endorse Trump for re-election are legion. Trump’s egomania and disregard for the Constitution and rule of law in this country is obvious. His commitment to waging political war in our country based on an us-versus-them tribal political mentality is stark and persistent. His infidelity to telling the truth is notorious. He understands very little of the essentials of his job and he shows little inclination to be taught by those with greater knowledge or wisdom.

Trump has never disclosed documents or information that would allow voters to evaluate his purported academic excellence, or his supposed wealth, or his boasts of good health, or his assertions that he’s innocent of multiple claims of sexual assault, misconduct and other illegal activities.

He is a daily example of incivility, boorishness and mean-spirited behavior about things beneath decent people. His track record of racism and misogyny is long and well-established.

And has he drained the swamp? Anyone who has paid attention to his history to even a slight degree knows his allegiance is to the financial enrichment of himself and his friends rather than the economic well-being of the country as a whole or its citizens.

By ignoring all this and shrugging off the president’s proven desire to have a foreign government directly interfere to help him win the 2020 Presidential election, all but one Republican in the U.S. Senate, including Utah’s own Mike Lee, just voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. Despite Sen. Mitt Romney’s profile in courage in voting to convict for abuse of power, Number 45 will stay in office through, at least, the end of his term. And Senate Republicans, with the sole exception of Romney, have demonstrated their commitment to a person who gives us little hope that anything inspiring, constructive, or worthy of emulation will emerge from his leadership.

How a candidate views Trump is a political litmus test. Utahns should refuse to support any Republican candidate for any office until and unless that candidate makes clear that they reject the president’s reelection.

If voters don’t explicitly reject candidates who support Donald Trump, we ensure his behavior and principles will continue in our public life. Those candidates who endorse and support him are complicit in his betrayal of our country and its values. The 2020 election is a test of character for every Utahn. I hope most Utahn’s votes in November reflect our best, not our worst, values.

Minority leader Rep. Brian King

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, represents House District 28 in the Utah Legislature.