Above: A couple of these guys allegedly aren't like the others.
Peter Cooke's campaign for governor against Gary Herbert shows all too clearly the maddening and perennial paradox that faces Democratic voters in Utah.
Common wisdom is the only way for a Democratic to win in Utah is to mimic a Republican. Case in point: Cooke takes a Republican stand against gay marriage, making it impossible to distinguish him from a GOP candidate.
"I'm not a typical Democrat!" Cooke crowed. Indeed, he even looks like a Republican. Now, the only real difference between the two gubernatorial contenders is that Herbert is a vastly well-funded incumbent with an "R" beside his name.
A more infamous example for those slow on the uptake (you are Democrats, after all). Rumor has it U.S. Congressman Jim Matheson is a Democrat—though he seldom owns up to it. Matheson just received an honor that any Republican would kill for—the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Few Democrats get that endorsement!" his supporters brag. Yeah, and there's a reason for that.
But I've got a solution for Democratic powerlessness. OK, it's not a perfect solution, but, hey, Utah Democrats accepted long ago that it's not a perfect world. Let's call it a scheme with merit: ALL DEMOCRATS IN UTAH REGISTER AS REPUBLICANS!
Before you have a case of the vapors, Jim Dubakis, think about it. As Republicans, these Closet Dem's (CDs) could attend to Republican neighborhood caucuses and conventions and vote in GOP primaries. On these occasions, CD's could vote for the most moderate Republican and even elect each other in as county and state convention delegates. If nothing else, it would nudge the Utah GOP toward the edge of sanity.
Any moderate Republicans (aka RINOs, Republicans In Name Only) that the Closet Democrats elect would enjoy the same privileges as regular Utah rock-ribbed, crazy-assed Republicans (RRCARs) to attend otherwise closed legislative meetings, vote for state House and Senate leaders and even, maybe, be GOP leaders—it could happen. (Not to mention getting lunch and golf paid for them by lobbists.)
For once, Democrats would actually have some impact on politics in Utah—even though they would no longer technically be Democrats.
Right about now, many progressive Democrats are saying, "But Crawler, that's not ethical!" (BTW: This kind of thinking is one reason Democrats get nowhere in Utah politics.)
But think about it, most Utah Repiublicans think "moderate Republican" is a synonym for Socialist. So you sorta, kinda, ain't lying.
And, to look at it from another angle, is registering as a bogus Republican any more repugnant than Matheson's charade as a Democrat?
Glen Warchol is an arts, culture and politics contributor to Salt Lake Magazine. He also writes Crawler at SLCene.com.