To cleanse the palate. Watching this, the thought occurred to me that maybe … maybe I don’t need to move to Canada after all.
Maybe I can just move to Utah.
The case for Canada: I wouldn’t get funny looks for swearing in public there. The case for Utah: I wouldn’t need to get a new passport.
Unless Utah decides to break away and form its own republic, that is. Which it should.
New from Spencer Cox and Chris Peterson, Utah’s respective Republican and Democratic nominees:
I’m not sure this has ever been done before…but as our national political dialogue continues to decline, my opponent @PetersonUtah and I decided to try something different. We can disagree without hating each other. Let’s make Utah an example to the nation. #StandUnited #utpol pic.twitter.com/Tkr2sDCYTB
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) October 20, 2020
My cynical heart is searching for some self-interested motive for either of these two to have cut this PSA and I can’t find it. It’s a response to one of Trump’s darkest moments as president, but neither candidate was under pressure to comment on that or will gain anything meaningful by politely distancing himself from it. Cox will obviously win the election easily, running as a genial Republican in a solid red state. We could strain and say that it’s an easy PR opportunity for each man: Cox will get a shot of goodwill from it before taking office, Peterson will get a shot of goodwill from it in whatever field he enters after politics.
But I don’t think there’s an ulterior motive. I think it’s a branding exercise for the state. Since the start of the Trump era, Utah Republicans have kept Trump at arm’s length. He won there in 2016, but with only a plurality of the vote thanks to Evan McMullin’s third-party candidacy. Their senior senator, Mike Lee, led the charge on the convention floor that year to try to deny Trump the party’s nomination and later called for him to drop out after the “Access Hollywood” scandal broke. (Lee has been a compliant Trump ally for the most part ever since, though.) Their junior senator, Mitt Romney, became the only member of the upper chamber in U.S. history to vote to remove a president from his own party earlier this year, and continues to be the most consistent critic of Trump in the congressional GOP.
Utah’s a breed apart. They have their own civic culture, a far, far healthier one than the rest of the United States, and Cox and Peterson evidently felt compelled to vouch for it together as we head for another completely disgusting national episode next month in the aftermath of the election.
Lee hasn’t commented yet on the new PSA as I write this at 2 p.m. but Romney noticed:
Applaud this joint effort by @SpencerJCox and @PetersonUtah to promote the Utah values of respect and civil discourse during campaign season. It’s vitally important that leaders at all levels follow Utah’s example and lower the heat. https://t.co/yYgegivj3y
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 20, 2020
I wonder if Mitt’s recent statements criticizing the two parties — but mainly criticizing Trump — for their vicious rhetoric and coddling of cranks is part of some messaging effort being coordinated behind the scenes among Utah pols. It seemed strange that he fired off those press releases out of the blue, but if it’s part of an agreement among politicians back home to try to lower the political temperature, with Cox and Peterson doing their part today, then it makes more sense.
Here’s another, longer version of the PSA. I’d like to predict that this will start a trend in Congress of candidates affirming that they’ll accept the results of the election but we both know the truth.
Today @SpencerJCox and I are releasing joint public service ads on civility in politics. Working together and the peaceful transfer of power are integral to what it means to be American. Let's reforge our national commitment to decency and democracy. #utpol #standunited pic.twitter.com/jeUJ78aVor
— Chris Peterson (@PetersonUtah) October 20, 2020