I also want to thank you, those who have taken the time to read, assist, agree and disagree with my column over the last three years. Writing this column has forced me to tackle subjects I may have never given a second thought to and for that greater awareness I am grateful.
The Tea Party has certainly affected national and state politics. In 2010 the Tea Party took out incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett and we now have Tea Party approved officers in every faction of government but I believe that this movement is losing steam and should, especially here in Utah where Tea Party ideology just doesn’t click with the majority of Utah voters.
Leaders of the Utah Republican Party recently stated they believed education should not be publicly funded. This is a radical proposal. It would end public education and our neighborhood schools in Utah and replace it with a system that would require parents to individually fund their own children’s education.
Our state as a collective embraces public education. It is the system the majority of Utahns have utilized to gain an education and to educate our children so as a common sense Utah Democrat I would ask just as our new state Democratic chair asked, “What would happen to children who didn’t win the birth lottery and get rich parents?”
The Republican Party’s official response to their leadership’s statements on this radical idea was not reassuring – their reaction was essentially gagging Party officials who made the proposal. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Vice Chair Lowell Nelson said he “can talk about the proper role of government, but shouldn’t go to the logical conclusions of them.”
This gag order does not answer the question Utah’s parents want answered — is Utah’s Republican Party for the abolition of public education? Democratic State Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said, “The people of Utah have a right to know where the Utah Republican Party stands on public education – should it be funded or not?
We are getting mixed messages. On the one hand, Republican leadership says education is the number one priority; on the other, they pass bills in favor of roads over education. In response to Ogden’s teachers calling for their basic rights, Rep. Stevenson threatened a school voucher-type program.
When Republican Party leadership stated education should not be publicly funded, the response was — “shut up,” and the Party organization tried to put a gag order on them.
Public education has always ranked as a top priority among Utah citizens. Unfortunately the Tea Party has no respect for the system that educates the majority of Utahns and that is just one of the reasons that makes me believe that the Tea Party will continue to lose favor with Utah voters, as they should because they do not represent the majority of Utah voters anyway.