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Hillary Stirling: Utah congressmen promote a false kind of unity

United Utah Party offers the third way that many people say they want.

(J. Scott Applewhite | AP) Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters after House Republicans voted to oust her from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference because of her repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in instigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

If we want something different from our congressional delegation, we need different people who approach politics in a different, more-inclusive way. We need new members of Congress who know better than to “understand and accept” the counterfeit and who embrace the real unity. We need to elect candidates from the United Utah Party.

In the name of party unity, Utah Reps. John Curtis and Chris Stewart voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her position as the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives. Utah is ill-served by this kind of partisan posturing, especially when there is a better way.

What kind of unity were our representatives promoting? It wasn’t the real kind. The real — and best — way to achieve unity is to set aside differences and focus on the ideas that can bring people together. Homogeneity can look like unity, because it involves marginalizing and pushing out anyone who disagrees, but it is ultimately a counterfeit.

It’s problematic politically because the circle of people who agree becomes increasingly smaller. It’s problematic in larger ways because it encourages “echo chambers” with their narrow-minded approach and distrust of anyone outside the circle. Unfortunately, what Curtis and Stewart voted for in the name of unity was actually its counterfeit — homogeneity.

The kind of unity Utahns seek and deserve is the real kind, the one that is focused on highlighting and promoting the good ideas that bring us together. Rep. Blake Moore voted for that kind of unity, and I applaud him for it. Unfortunately, he was literally shouted down in the Republicans’ closed-caucus voice vote.

In the wake of this recent upheaval, calls for a moderate third party have grown. Fortunately, we already have one here in Utah. The United Utah Party is a centrist, reform-oriented party that has been giving a voice and vote to moderates since 2017.

The unity for which the United Utah Party is named is not a counterfeit one. We clearly state in our platform that we focus on a few, specific unifying principles and positions. As for the rest, we leave those issues open to discussion, individual conscience and even respectful disagreement. This is what real Utah unity looks like, and as a political movement, it is snowballing across the state.

Then-candidate Spencer Cox once said that “[Pres. Trump’s] style of politics is not the Utah Republican style of politics. We just have to understand and accept that.” The problem with “understanding and accepting” the counterfeit style of “unity” in the current Republican Party is that we are now seeing that style here in Utah.

Cox was himself heckled at the recent Utah Republican state convention. Sen. Mitt Romney was booed by the state Republican Party and censured by county Republican parties. That style has come home to roost in the Utah party that now understands and accepts it.

Cox was half-right, though. This is not the way Utah politics need to be. We are so much better than this as a people. Instead of importing to Utah the dysfunction and counterfeit “unity” of Washington, D.C., we should be elevating and exporting Utah’s real unity. It is unfortunate that — by a two-to-one margin — our Congressional Representatives failed to do that.

Hillary Stirling

Hillary Stirling is chair of the United Utah Party.

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