Kent Dean: Utah, the Republican Party, and Trump: A call for decency and reason

(Saul Loeb | Pool Photo via AP) Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, holds up a copy of the transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

Utah is certainly a Republican state. The last time Utah voted to elect a Democrat for president was 1964. Yet, President Trump has relatively modest support from Utahns considering Utah is a Republican stronghold.

Although Trump won the state of Utah in the 2016 election, the margin of victory pales in comparison to the margin of Republican victories of past presidential elections. A recent survey finds Trump and Biden in a statistical tie for the 2020 presidential election.

Trump’s personal characteristics and behavior are often cited to explain his less than enthusiastic support in Utah. Trump’s communication is obviously offensive; even third-graders recognize Trump’s statements, tweets and name-calling as offensive. Trump’s behavior is equally disturbing. In addition to being accused numerous times of sexual misconduct and assault, Trump consistently challenges constitutional boundaries and democratic standards, dispenses misinformation and impetuously responds to domestic and global affairs. It is also clear that Trump lacks the leadership and moral bearing to address racial tensions and injustice.

Notwithstanding, many of our congressional and state officials show fealty to Trump.

Rep. Chris Stewart disputes the unanimous U.S. intelligence community assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump. In 2020, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee investigated and released a bipartisan report that confirmed Russia’s 2016 election interference with the objective of helping Trump win the election. This report resoundingly undercuts Stewart’s assessment as well as the ridiculous assertion that Russian election interference was a hoax or that a “deep state” conspiracy was afoot.

Stewart also used the loaded term “coup” to describe the articles of impeachment against President Trump. Perhaps he should reread the Constitution; a constitutionally mandated impeachment proceeding and trial is not a coup.

Sen. Mike Lee claimed that a “deep state” was responsible for Trump’s impeachment. Maybe he also believes in unicorns.

Some Utah GOP leaders wished to issue a resolution censuring Sen. Mitt Romney for voting his conscience to convict Trump on one of the articles of impeachment. Utah Republican Party Central Committee member Brandon Beckham claimed there was “zero evidence” of a crime or rationale for an impeachment. Zero evidence? Defendants throughout the United States are frequently convicted of crimes or culpability with significantly less evidence than presented in the House or Senate. Ultimately, the Utah Legislature issued a citation honoring Trump.

Former speaker of the Utah House and gubernatorial candidate Greg Hughes proudly announced his Trump bona fides in his initial campaign commercials at the exclusion of any other information. Apparently, the message that Hughes mostly wanted to communicate is that he established himself as an early Trump follower. Strange, I thought he might want to take the opportunity in his commercials to communicate his vision for Utah or articulate why he would be the best candidate to serve Utahns. Perhaps that was not a priority for his campaign.

What is disheartening for Utahns is the obsequiousness of many of our elected officials to Trump. Ingratiating themselves to Trump is not serving the people of Utah. Perhaps they’re afraid of Trump. Maybe they have difficulty discerning between right and wrong. Or possibly their partisanship is so deeply embedded it’s challenging for them to discern fact from fiction; none of these traits should ever be associated with our elected officials.

Since Trump has been in office, our social divisions and partisanship have only deepened, and our country, global leadership, and moral standing have been compromised. Utah needs elected officials with intellectual integrity, moral courage and fidelity to their oath of office.

Kent Dean

Kent Dean served Salt Lake County communities in public libraries for 30 years, including service as a professional librarian, library manager, and library administrator and is the founder and author of Ponder This…, a website providing information and commentary on social and political issues.

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