The recent declaration by the LDS Church that all political parties include moral principles was viewed in Utah as a breakthrough for the Democratic Party. Sorry to bust up our celebration, but the church statement is a piece of masking tape for a sinking boat. The problem for Democrats is part recent tradition, part poor choices and part voter apathy -- none of which can be substantially altered by the First Presidency's statement. The tradition is difficult to break. Children generally grow up following the political persuasions of their parents. In Utah, the Democrats are seen as a party favorable to abortion and gay rights, so throw out all the rationale for Democratic support of health care and peace and living wages to support a family. A person will usually vote their fears and emotions over statistics and philosophy.
A huge number of Davis County residents (and Utahns in general) vote a straight party ticket. It is easier than thinking and evaluating individual candidates, and leads to a fast exit from the voting booth. Yes, that's apathy, but it's an ingrained inertia that is difficult to combat. (Republican leaders, of course, will say straight-party tickets result from support of the party platform, but the reality is that more Utahns can list the roster of the Toronto Blue Jays than belch out the GOP platform points.)
In the wake of past Republican success, the Democrats have compounded their problem by insisting that a Democratic candidate fill every race instead of focusing on specific weak Republican candidates and pouring money in a race to defeat them.
Thus, the Utah Democrats have a man who had a sex-change operation running for the Utah Senate in conservative Sandy. Any question who will win that race? Davis County Democrats followed by fielding candidates against moderate Republicans, a waste of time and money in the bluest of the blue states.
Nationally, the Democrats have not been helped by guys like Al Gore or Michael Moore. The Democratic governor of Montana hit the nail on the head when he said in Utah last week that Democrats miss the boat by nominating the "brightest kid in the class" rather than the most likeable. "When I was in school," he said, "we all hated the bright kid." There's little doubt that Al Gore was smarter than George Bush -- but who would you want to have over for a barbecue?
The Democrats will never win outside Salt Lake and Carbon counties until they choose their battles and start nominating LDS stars like Kurt Bestor -- young, good-looking and likeable.
Even then, it will be an uphill battle, but they are certain to be unfulfilled if they make a lot of noise about nothing by rejoicing in the LDS Church statement.