When the representatives from the several states convened in 1787 to address the major flaws of the Articles of Confederation, the goals of each delegate were certainly different from any of the others. History records that what they all did share was a desire to do what was right and best for America. It would be a mistake to think that these framers were not also motivated by the many separate interests of their home states and private lives. But their neighbors and friends entrusted them with the obligation and duty to attend the convention. Some were even sent under specific instructions of what actions they could or could not take. Others were restricted by nothing more than their own conscience. After months of work, the convention had produced something new, a document that would go on to become ratified as the US Constitution. The creation of this new set of fundamental laws, along with its new form of government, and the scrapping of the Articles of Confederation represented a historic melding of ideas and ideology, brought about through vigorous debate and compromise.
Only a few years earlier, many of the same men, and others, who like the delegates to the Constitutional convention were entrusted by their friends and neighbors in their home colonies to represent them in the Continental Congress, wrestled with the issue of cutting ties with Great Britain and declaring independence. These men were willing to commit treason to the crown, and stake their “Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” to do what they saw as right.
The Republican Party has long carried the mantle of the party of the Rule of Law. That is, we believe in obeying the law and following legal channels in our activities. However, respecting the Rule of Law is not an end in itself, blind obedience to every statute is not equivalent to honoring our founding principles. John Locke, Algernon Sydney, and Thomas Jefferson all taught us that there are times, particularly following a “long train of abuses” when it becomes both right and proper to act in defiance of statutes that infringe upon our rights. “Don’t Tread on Me” is an empty threat coming from a snake with no fangs or venom. By retaining our defensive tools our request to remove the offending boot will be taken seriously. If it is ignored, there will be consequences.
As a member of the State Constitution and Bylaws Committee, I voted to give a favorable recommendation to the repeal of Bylaw 8. I did this for a few reasons. To begin, I view the C&B Committee as a body that should not be involved in giving policy advise or working to advocate for a measure based on the perceived outcome. The duty of the Committee, as I see it, is to act as a sort of editorial and review board, to make sure that proposals meet exacting and stringent language standards, are drafted to be easily understood and to eliminate redundancy and conflict within our governing documents, and to square with State and Federal law. By those standards, the repeal measure of Bylaw 8 was favorable to the current language of Bylaw 8. As was the case with this and every other proposal I have voted on thus far and going forward, I am committed to giving each proposal the same fair and neutral treatment.
When the time came to vote on the proposal in the State Central Committee, I voted not to adopt the repeal of Bylaw 8. I feel the Party has suffered a long train of abuses, including the blatant denial of our First Amendment Rights of Association. The strategy of course is arguable. There are several outcomes that are possible resultant to the outcome of the retention of Bylaw 8. In my personal analysis, the best way to address the situation is at the bargaining table, and keeping Bylaw 8 intact, while it is not without problems, gives us the tools and leverage to reach an amicable solution by partnering with the legislature to restore our rights. The restoration of the Party’s ability to govern itself is within reach. The Gadsden or “Don’t Tread On Me” banner is perhaps one of the more famous used by the founding generation in their time of trouble, but just as important, and even more applicable to the Utah Republican Party, is the one depicting the same snake, cut into individual pieces, representative of the separate colonies, with the script “Join or Die”. We have proven for a long while now that Utah Republicans are great at debating, as we do it within our ranks so often. I now respectfully call every Republican to “Join or Die”. United together in purpose we can reclaim our rights, and strengthen the Party to be able to take on any external foe. We will win elections by being united, and holding the ability to provide the best possible candidates backed by a robust, well-quipped, unstoppable dynamo known as the Utah Republican Party.