A group of concerned citizens has formed a new political party in Utah — the United Utah Party. It is a party intended to provide a home for the politically homeless. Who are these homeless? They are moderate Republicans, Democrats, and independents who are tired of the extremism of the two major parties. We are a party at the center of Utah voters.
Extremes on both ends – from the tea party on the Republican side to the Bernie Sanders movement on the Democratic side – have come to dominate the two major parties. The search for common ground has been lost and civility has been discarded in pursuit of passionate causes. We reject that extremism. We favor pragmatic approaches that bring people together, not contribute to further divisiveness and gridlock.
Who are we? We are citizens who are not driven by intense ideology or an overriding commitment to a single issue. We are people who don’t see the other side as automatically evil.
We believe our elected officials should seek pragmatic solutions to our policy problems rather than continue the partisan gridlock that characterizes today’s political system. We want representatives in Washington who will bring other representatives together rather than join the excessive partisanship in Washington. Our first example of this approach is United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett, son of the late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, who will be a voice for reason in Washington.
We want to recruit, support and elect legislators who will not become extreme by their association with the current party caucuses in the Legislature. We oppose the closed caucuses the Republican majority uses to make policy. But unlike the Democrats, we will elect legislators who will work to represent voters across the state rather than ignore or criticize them.
For example, we want our legislators to create bipartisan solutions to our education system rather than continue to kick the can down the road hoping someone at some future time solves the problem. We believe policymakers can bring the federal government and the communities of Utah together to solve our public lands issues rather than fight one another. We believe Utah can be a model for a more compassionate approach to refugees that befits the unique background of Utah. We believe we can reform our tax system to eliminate tax breaks that rob our education system.
We also support political reforms that will make government more user-friendly. These include instituting term limits for statewide officials and legislators, forming an independent redistricting commission to prevent legislators from drawing their own district lines, imposing stricter campaign finance limits on state and local candidates, and increasing the number of non-partisan elections for offices such as school board, county commissioner, and other county offices, as well as the state attorney general.
These reforms will reduce the distance between our government and Utahns. They will make elections more meaningful because there will be more competition, the public will play a greater role in deciding who our representatives are, and government officials will become more accountable to the voter rather than to the party.
We also believe our party will set an example for other states. That’s why our motto is “Better Government Starts Here.” We can be the model for other states seeking a way out of the extremism that has captured American politics.
We have no illusions about how difficult this will be. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party will oppose us. But we also consider this to be an opportune moment – really, a necessary moment. Utahns have the chance to set a new course – to prove not only that life is elevated in Utah, but so is our political system.
If you have been looking for a party you can feel comfortable in, a party that represents your more moderate views, then, go to unitedutah.org. You may find just what you have been looking for.
Richard Davis is the chair of the newly formed centrist party, United Utah Party.