Thanks to a lot of hard work by very dedicated people, led so ably by Jim Dabakis, Utah Democrats were able to “hold serve” in a very tough election cycle. Jim Matheson and Ben McAdams, the two races we needed to win, came out in our favor. And, of course, nationally, things looked good for Democrats. But this begs the question: Are we ever going to make any progress in this reddest of red states?
Let’s review some recent history:
2006: This year was actually pretty good for us. Even Utahns were tired of the Bush wars, and we were starting to see troubling times for the economy. Progress was made, baby steps to be sure, but progress. We had high hopes for the next cycle. Which leads to:
2008: I have to admit, personally, that after my favorite candidate (Bill Richardson) was out of the picture, I started rooting for Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton. The reason was very simple: I knew Utahns hated the Clintons, so I figured Obama at the head of the ticket would be the better choice for electing Utah Democrats. Sort of misjudged that one, didn’t I? It remains a mystery to me why, from the very beginning, there was such enmity from the people of this state towards a man who obviously is faithful to his wife, adores his daughters, and despite all the contrary rhetoric, is very much a centrist. Hate to say this, but is there a possibility some of our fellow Mormons didn’t get the 1978 memo from President Kimball? Anyway, turned out Obama was a drag on our candidates that year, for whatever reason.
2010: The Tea Party revolution. Don’t need to say more. Democrats across the nation caught cold that year, Utah Democrats caught the avian flu.
2012: The Romney factor. We already talked about that.
So, what happens next? Just from the laws of probability, there is only a one in sixteen chance we can have four bad years in a row! But there are more reasons for optimism. The Romney factor is gone for good. The economy will get better the next two years, and Democrats will justifiably get credit for it. We will know in two years that Obamacare did not, in fact, lead to the ruin of the nation. Most of all, every nasty conspiracy/apocalyptic prediction against President Obama will have been discredited. (Rachel Maddow made a pretty good summary of recent ones in this rant.) At that point, even the most dedicated Obama haters will have to come to terms with themselves. Latter-day Saints do believe in repentance. Thanks to the letter last week from the First Presidency, I’m already seeing some softening towards President Obama among some of my ward members. If we can just be patient for two more years, things will start to look rosy for Democrats in Utah.