Opinion: As a former Republican senator in Utah, I’m embarrassed

For Utah Republican leaders to rush in with military troops to the Texan border is beyond embarrassing — it is disgraceful.

(Eric Gay | AP) Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, far left, stands behind Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, seated center, who is joined by fellow governors during a press conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Nevertheless, having served as a Republican Utah state senator and in other elected and appointed political and government offices, it’s not hard for me to smoke out politicians and their cynical actions calculated to persuade the populists in an election year they are tough on immigration and against the federal government.

The most recent ignoble political act was Utah’s governor, with support from the Legislature’s leadership, ordering the state’s National Guard and Highway Patrol officers down to supposedly defend the Texan border against immigrants instinctively gathering to what they view as the land of promise, seeking protection from perilous politics and poverty.

While I respect and, in some cases, consider Utah Republican leaders my friends, I am extremely embarrassed by their senseless performative stunts that have become more and more common with today’s political class. Their political two-steps with truth are designed to hoodwink voters into blindly believing something actually worthwhile is being done for them.

Knowing some of these leaders as I do, I can unequivocally testify their recent statements and stunts are well beneath their dignity. It’s astonishing how noxious our politics have become and how much it has disfigured otherwise good people. Certainly, what our government and political leaders have pulled Utah into recently is not the so-called Utah Way they often proudly promote.

For Utah Republican leaders to rush in with military troops to the Texan border is beyond embarrassing — it is disgraceful. Especially when there was a legitimate bipartisan immigration bill prepared for passage — until Trump and his MAGA friends in Congress pulled the plug. This bipartisan legislation was exactly what was needed to begin to help solve the border crisis, and all of Congress knows it, or at least those who took the time to read the legislation before they opposed it.

Instead of doing something serious and productive, like tenaciously pushing Utah’s congressional delegation to support the bipartisan immigration legislation that would help fix the border crisis, Utah Republican leaders rushed down to the southern border to lock arm-in-arm with Texan politicians who are stridently challenging the federal government’s constitutional authority and responsibilities over the border and immigration — especially the Supreme Court’s ruling ordering Texas to stand down. So much for Utah Republicans honoring the rule of law. So much for their oath of office to preserve and protect the Constitution.

The Texas border revolt smacks of an earlier event that turned into a violent rebellion against the federal government, the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law — a rebellion unleashed with these now infamous words from Donald J. Trump: “We’re going to walk down, and I will be there with you … We’re going walk down to the Capitol … We fight like hell and, if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

And what did they fight to do? They fought to stop the constitutionally mandated certification of electoral votes by the vice president, necessary for the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Between the Trump congressional show and the Texas border show, one might get the impression Republicans aren’t really serious about solving the immigration crisis. One might be forced to believe Republicans want the crisis for their ongoing political advantage in their elections. Of course, such an impression would truly be cynical. But wait, isn’t that exactly what Trump said he wanted when he ordered the bipartisan immigration legislation killed?

Speaking of cynical, I have to admit the Trump-produced congressional show was actually quite entertaining — if it wasn’t a sad and painful disappointment for the honorable men and women in Congress who worked hard to fashion the bipartisan immigration legislation purposely designed to help fix the border crisis, which seems a whole lot like the Utah Way we hear about.

It absolutely is a belly laugh for those of us in the peanut gallery viewing the very Republicans who initiated, negotiated and crafted the legislation turn around and oppose it because Trump gave them the order.

Peanuts anyone?

File photo Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden.

Stuart C. Reid is a former Republican and Utah state senator living in Ogden.

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