My Advice to New Democratic Party Chair, Daisy Thomas

Dear Daisy, Congrats on winning the Utah State Democratic Party Chair job. In 2011 when I was elected, I found out there is no manual. You are on your own. So just a few words culled from my three years of 24/7 on the Party Merry-Go-Round.

Make friends with our guys and THEIR'S. You will love Utah Democrats--all across Utah. But don't forget all the 'other' good people across our beautiful state.

The GOP chair when I was serving was Thomas Wright. When we first met, we circled each other cautiously. But it didn't take long for us to strike up a genuine friendship. We traveled the state together.

In countless joint appearances (most of them debates) we arrived in the same car.

Driving far and near, we talked. Not just about politics or policy (that only lasts so long on the drive to Moab). Mostly we chatted about family, work--normal friend talk. We got to know each other. Sometimes we even worked together, as on a vote-by-mail law.

We would have a great drive and on arrival pop out of the car. Sometimes to see our supporters puzzled – even angry – that we had come together. With the idea that somehow us traveling together and being friends was some kind of disavowal of our party. A betrayal.

But once we stepped into the debate stage--we took on our armor. We went at it. Tooth and nail. But never personally. After the brutality, we would shake hands all around and jump back into the car for the ride home.

We were at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. It was 2012 and the hot debate was Obama v Romney. After many debates, Thomas and I knew each other's shtick. Just before the Hinckley debate started, Thomas, with a twinkle in his eye, leaned over and whispered, 'Jim just trust me'.

To my surprise, he stood up before the students and with passion and energy gave MY pro-Obama speech in his five minute opening! The stunned students, sat in silence as GOP party chair and close Romney family friend, Thomas, opened by saying something like, 'Clearly President Barack Obama deserves another four years as one of America's greatest presidents.'

I got up, without breaking a beat and glowed about Mitt Romney's greatness for five minutes! That my friends took faith. And trust!

When the questions came Thomas and I reverted to our normal positions, seamlessly, to the befuddlement of the students.

Daisy, remember there are so many more things we share as Americans than not. We cannot ONLY dwell on the differences. We need to celebrate our common love for America and Utah. We need to remind everyone of our shared core values that have created the greatest country on earth.

As for Thomas, he has gone on to be the Republican National Committeeman representing Utah. I feel good about that. And frankly, there are a lot of Democrats I would pass up to vote for Thomas Wright!

Finally, Daisy, have fun, smile, be happy and don't take yourself too seriously. We only have a short time (except Orrin) to get in the ring and make whatever mark we can. If it's not fun along the way, find another way to contribute.

  • commented 2017-06-20 07:57:59 -0600
    Very well said and so very true. Often times we become devoted to a policy position and then allow that devotion to become something greater than our appreciation, kindness and fidelity to our fellow man. Of course, all the while we claim that our devotion to a given policy position is solely motivated by one riding principle – appreciation, kindness and fidelity to our fellow man. If we allow the means to become more important than the end… well, then we’re lost.