Those numbers should terrify you even if you're not a self-identified Democrat. Utah is in desperate need of balanced government. A government made of super majorities and little debate is a dangerous one, and we're living it Utah. However, it's worse if you're a Democrat - you're facing extinction even if you won't admit it.
Think about it. Our numbers our terrible. They're flat out embarrassing. We were apathetic this last election cycle. We're all guilty and we should all take responsibility for our losses and lack of gains. I could have done more, much more, and you could have too.
We have put ourselves in an awful position. We head into redistricting with very little left to lose. In 2001 the Republicans gerrymandered us into an oblivion and they will do so again. Governor Herbert assured that on Friday when he declared an independent redistricting commission to be "unconstitutional." Give me a break.
The 2012 election cycle has all the makings to be a disaster. We're home to the Tea Party movement, people are conservative here and we cannot deny that. If the movement continues, having President Obama on the top of the ticket will rally Tea Party voters. I hate to say it, but it's true, and it gets worse. It's possible that Mitt Romney could headline or co-headline the Republican ticket. He's our golden boy. Utahns love him. Even though he governed Massachusetts just as a "Utah Democrat" would, it won't be good news for anyone with a "D" next to their name.
However, there is great hope. The odds are stacked against us. Our backs are up against the wall. Hell, can we really lose that much more? The answer is no, and we don't have anywhere to go but up. However, we're starting off on the wrong foot. Yesterday's Young Democrats of Utah (YDU) election made that crystal clear.
I've been on the YDU board for two years. It's been a great experience, and the organization has introduced me to so many great people -- many who are now great friends. I ran for a different position yesterday. I lost. The race was close, very close. I'm used to close races - my young political career (both personal races and those of others) has only been made up of squeakers. Actually I'd welcome a blow out or two. It might be less stressful. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. This isn't about me. And as I said yesterday in my campaign speech, Nicole Christensen will be a fantastic Communications Director, and I couldn't have lost to anyone better.
With that said, some of the behavior I noticed yesterday and the weeks preceding the election was unacceptable. This isn't meant to call people out or be accusatory, but it's meant to change behavior. We have to change the way we operate. None of us are perfect, but there is no place in Utah Democratic politics for name calling, backstabbing, and underhanded, shady dealings. We all play for the same team. We're too small to be so divided.
We're only signing our own death sentence. Inter-party challenges are fine. They're probably best. They keep us strong and prepared for general elections. However, we really need to take a step back and look at how they're done. Many left the YDU convention yesterday broken and hurt. Losing sucks, but YDU is too important to the future of the Democratic Party for so many to feel left out and betrayed.
The Jim Matheson and Claudia Wright contest earlier this year had the same undertones. There was fighting, name calling, and some gross nastiness. I supported Jim from the beginning and I stand by my decision. Has he always voted the way I would have liked? No way. However, it's always been my personal belief that we must put candidates on the ticket who are electable. Claudia Wright wasn't electable. November 2 proved that. Does that make a Claudia Wright supporter a lunatic? Certainly not. However is Jim Matheson a horrible wretched man? He most definitely is not. He represents his constituents, and most of his constituents are Republicans, so take from that what you will.
I'm pleading for a return to civility. We'll never post respectable numbers in Utah with such animosity. We're all Democrats. We're the party of inclusiveness. We're the party of the people. And if we truly believe that's the case then all viewpoints are welcome whether they're conservative or progressive.
We've got a long road to hoe and we need to have each other's backs. We must put aside our differences and unite. We must throw away our apathy and roll up our sleeves. On election night, I heard several well-known Democrats say, "there's nothing more we could have done." That's not good enough. We need to look at ourselves, figure out what we did wrong, and fix it. We're Utahns. We're the Beehive State for a reason, and Utah Democrats need to embody that. The only way we'll reap success is to work twice as hard as the opposing party. We have to beat them at their own game. Afterall, we're playing on their turf.
I want so much for us to shock the state and that nation with a great showing in 2012. I'm committed to all the hard work that it WILL take starting now. The question is, is anyone else?