My name is Bruce Hough, and I’m your National Committeeman representing you on the Republican National Committee. I bring you greetings from our Chairman Reince Priebus, who is doing a tireless and outstanding job doing precisely the things that need to be done to make Barack Obama a one term president.
20 years ago, I stood in front of a similar Convention and ended up serving four years as your State Republican Party Chairman. I was 19 when I was elected… okay, it only seemed like I was 19… but the truth be told… it still feels like I’m nineteen when I’m around the energy, passion, and conviction of like minded individuals.
It is Good to be here as a delegate, elected to represent our friends and neighbors at this convention. It is Better to be a Republican Delegate, where I know that on the fundamental issues we are in agreement more often than not; as Republicans we stand for something. But Best of all, we are Americans, gathered together out of a common concern to Protect the Republic, to elect men and women of good character who are capable of representing us. It is America and its constitutional ideals that allow us to freely associate in this good cause and to speak without fear for what we believe. For that I am most grateful.
For those of you who are new to this process and consider yourselves Tea Party activists or 9/12ers, congratulations on becoming engaged in a process that allows you to have a say in the direction of our communities, our state and our Nation. When I became active in politics, yes I actually remember the Goldwater campaign… we weren’t clever enough to have catchy names, but we became known as “movement conservatives” and helped usher in the Reagan era.
But isn’t it interesting that as much as we admire many wonderful but past politicians, that served our country well, that we don’t necessarily agree with everything they said or did. Let’s face it, Adams and Jefferson ran a very nasty campaign… it was just lucky they didn’t have television. The good news of course is that they became friends in their later years.
As much as I love Ronald Reagan, I disagreed with him on granting amnesty to illegal aliens, and now we know how that turned out.
But here is the thing… I agreed with Reagan more than I disagreed with him… and I am forever grateful that he was our president and accomplished the monumental good that occurred under his stewardship.
I disagreed with Bush one on breaking his pledge to not raising taxes. I disagreed with Bush two on Bailouts and the fact that he wouldn’t use a veto pen to help control spending. But I am still grateful that he was president and not Al Gore.
My point is, as former Utah Congressman Jim Hansen used to say, “you don’t shoot a race horse that wins 7 out of ten races…” Maybe your standard is 8 out 10… you need to decide… but let’s be careful to remember all that we do agree on rather than denigrate the character of those who faithfully serve us because we disagree on one or two issues.
Because on any day… I would still rather have a Republican in office who I agree with most of the time than a Democrat that supports the policies of the Democratic Party that are leading this country into an abyss. Yes, I know that some republicans have been participants with the democrats and have contributed to the mess we are in.
Now let me share with you some of my thoughts that should probably be titled, “How to Elect a Democrat in Utah”.
Because we win on the issues, it really comes down to what I call the three Ts.
Tone, Temperament, and Tactics.
The tone we take in our public discourse is telling about ourselves individually and about our party. It is one thing to disagree vehemently on an issue or policy; it is quite another to demonize the person who is expressing their viewpoint on that issue or policy. It gets back to what I learned as a child… the action or behavior or words are what we disagree with and may even condemn as an awful idea or inappropriate behavior; but we treat the person with respect and do not demonize or vilify that person.
A friend of mine just shared a story about his father and an important lesson he learned from him. His father told him that “If you are right, there is no reason to be angry; if you are wrong, you have no right to be angry.”
Our temperament, if angry, can get in the way of communicating our message. It makes it easy for others, including the media, to dismiss us outright if our temperament is always one of anger and who has the loudest voice. Do not confuse passion with anger. I believe that passion will persuade but anger will dissuade anyone from wanting to have a meaningful discourse with us.
Finally Tactics. We only need look at fairly recent history. How in the world did Democrat Bill Orton win a congressional seat in what was arguably the most republican district in the nation? Unfortunately, the tone, temperament and tactics of some in that race were such that the electorate would not return a Republican to a safe Republican seat in Congress. It started with the Republican’s beating each other up so unmercifully that by the time the general election came around and additional negative campaigning continued, the electorate had had it and elected a Democrat.
How did Jim Matheson get elected? Similar story, a very bitter primary. And then, to make matters worse, outside interests came into Utah placed negative advertising against the Democrat and the result? We have had 12 years of Jim Matheson. Outsiders, as good as their intentions are in coming here to “help” us elect good republicans… sometimes just don’t get it. Utah is different than the rest of the country. Hard hitting, personal attack ads that may work in other parts of the country do nothing but hurt our candidates here in Utah.
For me, I would love to see those who feel compelled to insert themselves into Utah’s political process to be for something rather than against something; especially in a primary season. And in both primary and general elections, keep it to the issues; avoid character assassination, or demonizing other candidates.
The success of the Republican Party producing good candidates and winning elections is more important than ever with our country in financial peril and our economy on the edge of the cliff.
We can be successful with the right tone, right temperament, and right tactics… because we are already right on the issues and right to have faith in our constitutional republic, this United States of America, which we hold so dear.