Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sorry, More Utah Politics

The Senate recently voted to expand the members of the House of Representatives from 435 seats to 437, giving one seat to the District of Columbia and another to Utah. The reason for Utah's inclusion is because it was 80 human beings short of getting a new district from the 2000 census, was the fastest growing state since then, and will likely vote a Republican to fill the seat to counter the forgone conclusion that D.C. will vote in a Democrat.

There is this tantalizing possibility, though, that this could all backfire and Utah would end up voting for a Democrat, as well. The Utah legislature drew up the four districts back in 2000 when it seemed likely Utah was going to get the seat the good old fashion way. You can see the map here.

District 1 in Northern Utah is solidly conservative, and so is District 3 because even though it has Grand County and some of Summit County, both of which went for Obama, and San Juan County, which nearly went to Obama, it also contains Utah County which is big and hugely conservative. So that puts District 1, likely for Bishop, and District 3, likely for Chaffetz, solidly Republican. District 2 is a slam dunk for Democrats. It contains the north half of Salt Lake County, a little bit of Davis County (Woods Cross), a little bit of Utah County (Alta) and the real liberal part of Summit County, Park City. Then there's District 4. This little gem is the southern half of Salt Lake County and then the western counties down to Washington County.

The backfire comes where in the last ten years the southern half of Salt Lake County is more and more liberal, especially along the east bench. Republicans have lost some state seats in that area to Democrats, most notably Senate president Greg Curtis from Sandy. Also making this intriguing is that Matheson has the highest approval ratings outside of the Huntsman juggernaut and is from Iron County, which is within that District 4. So Matheson could run in that 4th District and win, with the only challenge being picking up some votes from big-ish and conservative Washington County. He also has experience running in conservative districts and a record of being a moderate. If he did that, then District 2 could run any viable Democrat and win and suddenly Utah has 2 Democrats in the House. I'm not sure if Matheson is that big a risk-taker with District 2 seemingly in the bag, but this is not that far fetched.

Which leads to another interesting little bit of politcal time-wasting. The National Journal Online (warning, slow loading) recently ranked all Congresspeople along the ideological spectrum. You will notice such things as Jim Matheson being predictably moderate, fellow Mormon Harry Reid not as liberal as conservatives think, and Bob Bennett and Orin Hatch are suprisingly moderate. These rankings are not official, by any means, and there is some criticism of it methodology, but it is probably more or less the starting point to some arguments.

The juiciest tidbit, for me, is seeing Chris Cannon, former Representative from Utah, as the 16th most conservative in the 435-seat House. This is not surprising, and Rob Bishop is just barely behind. Chris Cannon, however, lost to Jason Chaffetz in the last election, from the right. Chris Cannon, the 16th most conservative Rep in the nation, was too liberal for the good folks of Utah County, at a time when the entire rest of the nation shifted to the left.

Now I'm not saying that Utah Republicans that don't fall in line with shockingly moderate Governor Huntsman are already irrelevant, but it is quickly approaching that point. The problem with the Republican Party over the past five years is not that it is too liberal, or that it got away from it conservative roots, or that it is not listening intently enough to Rush Limbaugh, it is that the American people have moved to the left. The American people now favor more liberal policies. So either the Republican Party can gravitate toward leaders like Huntsman, or it can fade to obscurity.

And just to be clear, more liberal does not mean less moral. Is it more or less moral to torture? How about being responsible for the deaths of a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians as the result of an unprovoked war? How about letting millions go without proper medical care in the name of self-sufficiency and the free market? And so on.


peter said...

Torture is not a conservative ideology, the war was probably not the best course of action, but unprovoked is a little strong, and health care reform is hardly the sole property of the democrats.

Liberalism isn't inherently less moral, but it does promote or condone practices that I consider less moral, such as abortion, promiscuity, pornography, etc. The definition of liberal indicates not being bound by tradition and orthodoxy. We shouldn't be slaves to tradition and orthodoxy, but a lot of unfashionable traditional morals that I adhere to, such as the nuclear family, chastity, and personal responsibility seem to be derided and scorned by liberals.

And, just so we are clear, conservatives care about people just as much as liberals do, we just don't believe that big government and big government spending is a panacea for all that ails the world.


Jacob S. said...

I am writing up a whole new post to respond to this because I think it is so fascinating. But I will point out a couple of things here.

First, you can't say liberalism is not less moral and then say it promotes and condones less moral behavior. Those are completely contradictory.

Second, the Iraq War could not have been less provoked. I cannot think of a single provocation at all.

Third, I have never seen a liberal scorn family, personal responsibility, or chastity. I have seen people from all sides ignore them, but never scorned.

Fourth, health care reform is absolutely 100% the sole property of Democrats. Not only have Republicans never even hinted at wanting to reform our health care system, they actively block it. And I believe it is a moral issue.

Those are specifics. I'm going for something a little more big picture in the post. Should be good.

peter said...

I’m sorry if I wasn’t succinct enough before, I will refrain from writing posts after 11:00pm in the future.

Liberalism itself isn’t inherently less moral…there are times and places to eschew tradition and orthodoxy and when it is moral to do so. But when the traditions and orthodoxy we speak of have to do with issues of moral importance and liberalization on these issues involves a swing toward a less moral stance then we have to conclude that in this case liberalization equals less moral.

Hollywood and primetime television are bastions for liberality and shows such as “Sex in the City” and most movies glorify and normalize promiscuity and alternative lifestyles. The current welfare system, which liberals want to expand rather than reform, discourages personal responsibility and encourages dependence on the state. Abortion, in most cases, is used as a form of birth control and allows an escape from the personal responsibility of choosing to have sex. And on…

Health care reform and government run health care are not synonymous. And just because Republicans don’t want to instate a government run health care system does not mean that they don’t want health care reform. There are ways to improve our health care system without the radical step of a completely government run program. There is a host of medical reform legislation that republicans back. But I’ve gone over my concerns on the health care front before and I don’t intend to yell into the wind when no one is listening. Just don’t accuse people of obstructionism because they don’t agree with the legislation you support, I believe that the democrats were the obstructionists not long ago.

Andrew said...

"Liberalism itself isn’t inherently less moral... there are times and places to eschew tradition and orthodoxy and when it is moral to do so. But when the traditions and orthodoxy we speak of have to do with issues of moral importance and liberalization on these issues involves a swing toward a less moral stance then we have to conclude that in this case liberalization equals less moral."

If I understand you correctly, what you really object to is the "swing toward a less moral stance". In other words, you worry about the moral degredation of society and blame "liberalism" for promoting it. "Traditions" and "orthodoxy" here are only vehicles whereby traditional morals are upheld, correct?

First off, society never was very moral to begin with. The "tradition" of immorality goes all the way back to Adam and Eve's children rejecting the gospel and is nothing new. It's advanced just as much by "conservative" ideology as anything else, since Satan doesn't care a bit for the political labels we use and one's righteousness isn't linked to their political beliefs. Political labels are only useful to him inasmuch as they can be used as levers for getting a person to commit sin. The huge number of recently-indicted or publicly shamed Republican politicans attests to this, along with the lurid details of their various escapades.

There are many different ways to attack moral challenges; just because Republicans have picked their pet methods doesn't mean other approaches aren't valid. I believe very strongly in sex education at school because I believe it will reduce the number of abortions and help confused kids avoid much larger and more damaging problems. Is that somehow less moral than leaving those kids to fend for themselves at home and perhaps not get such an education? I don't think so, and you may disagree, but just because the approach I like is "liberal" doesn't mean its any less moral. We have the same objective -- reduce abortions -- but probably have different ways of going about it.

I'd say that in 99.9% of cases "liberal" ideas are like this, they're just different from what you might do in the same situation but ultimately designed to achieve the same objectives.

Steve M. said...


Methinks you need to meet a few more liberals. The idea that liberals "deride" or "scorn" the nuclear family, chastity, and personal responsibility, or that they "promote or condone" abortion, promiscuity, and pornography, would be laughable were it not so offensive--and dangerously inaccurate. Please, don't buy into right-wing propaganda.

Personally, I find both the abuses of the Bush administration and current Republican talking points extremely disturbing--from a moral perspective.

peter said...

The in-laws were in town, sorry to leave that hanging.

I think that I know plenty of liberals. I'm not insulated in the Mormon community you all are so concerned about feeling censored by. I've spent the majority of my life outside of Utah. And shockingly, my political views still line up more with conservatives. Doesn't mean I don't respect your right to believe what you want, but as an informed, educated, intelligent individual, I still choose conservative over liberal.

I guess that morality is all in personal perception. It is after all a perception of what is right. What I think is right doesn't always jive with what my neighbor thinks is right.

Steve, I can't think of any current "republican" talking points that would be morally disturbing, maybe you should enlighten me? And as for the morality of public policy, I personally find the bulk of the current liberal agenda and their methods of persuing it morally disturbing. I just don't think they're right.