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Sunday, April 26, 2009
More from the Convention: I Sided with Satan -- Again!

At least some of my fellow Utah County Republicans seem to think so. [Updated several times with more links, a made-up quotation about Satan Scanners (!), and a link to other blogs and some KSL audio. See the comments.]

Entirely predictably, the news story coming out of yesterday's 2009 Utah County Republican Party Organizing Convention was about a resolution offered by delegate Don Larsen, the gentleman who fed similar stories two years ago, when he offered a resolution opposing "Satan's Plan." I had some fun with it in advance and offered some serious thoughts afterward, but it never came to a vote, as yesterday's resolution did.

It's important to understand that any delegate can propose a resolution simply by writing it and supplying 1300 or so photocopies by a certain deadline. Both times I've been a delegate to the organizing convention, the only resolution thus proposed has come from Larsen.

The Larsen Resolution, Version 2009

Copies of the resolution were distributed to delegates when they checked in. It filled most of a page, in single-spaced, bold type. Its title was: "RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE HATE AMERICA, ANTI-CHRISTIAN, OPEN BORDERS CABAL." It was subtitled, "(This resolution fulfills scriptural prophecy about our time.)" I don't think "fulfills" was the verb he really wanted, but that is a small point.

The "whereas" paragraphs are full of right-wing-nutty bogeymen, some of which should be real issues, and might be if they hadn't been co-opted by kooks:

  • 1960s radicals
  • "godless globalist elites"
  • multilateralism
  • "invisible government"
  •  "the cloak of secrecy"
  • "a vast network"
  • "an intense battle between good and evil here on earth"

I'm not saying that none of these things exists; I would argue that at least the first and last do, but the last is a matter more for theology than for politics, at least in a pluralistic society.

This "hate America, anti-Christian, open borders cabal" is on the side of evil, in case you hadn't guessed, and it is subverting everything that is good and right, because "one of Satan's top priorities is the destruction of the U.S.A."

Therefore, we were to resolve that we oppose the "evil designs" of the aforementioned cabal, support "the Constitutional mandate to protect and secure our national borders," and also support the national Republican platform "in opposing amnesty for illegal aliens and upholding the 'Rule of law."

In his remarks from the dais, Larsen added that most illegitimate children and illegal aliens grow up to vote Democratic, or words to that effect, and that, as everyone knows, is the end of life as we know it. (Okay, I added that last little part, sort of.)

Real Issues

There is a prolonged, deep, intelligent debate yet to be had about border security and illegal immigration. And there really are enemies of freedom at home and abroad -- including people at home who will trade a legacy of freedom for a momentary illusion of security. And there are good and evil in the world, doing what they alway do: fighting.

There are people who favor open borders and a world in which nation-states fade into irrelevance, though I can't see that they're being very secretive about their views.

But none of this is my point. My point is that good causes -- you decide for yourself if you think there are any at issue here, and where you stand on them -- are hindered and discredited by bad advocacy.

I learned two years ago that one must move quickly to the microphone when a motion or resolution is open for debate, if one wishes to speak, because the time for debate is strictly limited. I got to the microphone designated for opponents first, and here is what I said, as best I can reconstruct it from my notes and from memory.

My Remarks from the Floor (approximately)

We had a good meeting earlier in the 27th Legislative District, with our representative, John Dougall. We discussed ways to include and involve many people who are not already engaged in politics. This is not just a nice idea. It's how the Party and conservative principles will survive and prosper.

With all due respect to Mr. Larsen, when we couch Party resolutions in sectarian religious terms, we push many good, intelligent people away. We embarrass many who belong or might belong to the Party and who want to be proud of it. Perhaps worst of all, this sort of sectarian rhetoric damages the debate and discredits its own position on very important issues.

It is possible -- in fact, it is essential -- to advocate conservative principles in ways that appeal to a broad spectrum of Utahans and Americans. This resolution does not do that. It does exactly the opposite. Whatever we may believe of illegal immigration, border security, and illegitimacy, this particular resolution deserves more than just defeat here today. It deserves a resounding defeat.

Thank you.


I suppose I might have said more clearly that we need to argue for our positions and principles in non-sectarian terms which might be embraced by people outside a single, narrow sectarian viewpoint. It can be done. Even if you believe that your position on a political issue is dictated by God, you should be able to defend and articulate it in other terms, because you need the support of people who don't share your view of God's politics. Otherwise, your power to persuade anyone who does not already agree with you is severely limited.

I might have said that we all knew what the story from this convention would be in the papers tomorrow: The Utah County Republican Party considered an extreme, right-wing resolution that opposes Satan and purports to fulfill scriptural prophecy. That that will be the story at all is regrettable, but you know it is inevitable. At least let the story be that we defeated it by a large margin.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

The Vote and the Newspaper Accounts

One fellow who spoke in favor of the resolution after I spoke against it said that he didn't see anything sectarian in it. Maybe it's only sectarian if it represents a view or belief different from your own? Whatever.

When the resolution came to a vote, it was a voice vote, and the nays were louder than the yeas. Someone asked for a "division," meaning a count, so the chair invited the yeas to stand, and then the nays. My quick estimate was that the nays outnumbered the yeas by at least two-to-one, but probably less than three-to-one.

I'm not sure this defeat was resounding enough. But at least the vote wasn't close. I'd like to think I swayed a few votes.

In any case, the resolution was indeed the story. You  might enjoy these:

Don't bother reading the comments on these articles. For the most part, they are the usual mindless, vulgar Internet banter. Someone calling himself Satan weighed in, which is a fun idea, but he wasn't profound. He was probably an imposter.

My Own Resolution

I'm tempted to offer my own resolution next time, but I'll have to think about. It might read something like this.

WHEREAS the American tradition of religious freedom, embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, celebrates the right of each individual to believe and worship -- or not to believe or worship -- freely, while respecting the rights of others;

WHEREAS the Utah County Republican Party welcomes and embraces people of any and every religious faith and people of no religious profession at all; and

WHEREAS resolutions and motions couched in sectarian terms or expressly reasoned on sectarian principles are unnecessarily divisive, discourage broad participation, impede serious debate, and embarrass the Party;

Be it therefore

RESOLVED that all resolutions distributed, debated, and/or voted upon at any Utah County Republican Party convention must be free from sectarian language and reasoning, including but not limited to the mention of moral evil; the quotation or interpretation of scripture; references to specific religions or religious leaders, past or present; and references to Satan, "Satan's Plan," or the Antichrist; and further

RESOLVED that Utah County Republican Party officials shall devise and enforce reasonable policies and procedures to ensure that no resolution containing sectarian language or reasoning shall be distributed, debated, or voted upon in convention.

Maybe that's a bad idea. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Dave Laraway comments (4/26/09):

Kudos to you for your sensible remarks. It kind of sounds to me like you were the designated driver at a frathouse party.

David Rodeback comments (4/27/09):

KSL's version of the story is here, and the main page for the Doug Wright show currently includes this invitation:

Here at the show we are inspired by the Utah County delegate who proposed an Anti-Satan resolution. Help Doug write an effective and strongly worded resolution against Satan and all his minions (Democrats, obviously).

Regrettably, the link at the end of this invitation leads only to the story, not to a resolution-in-progress or anything like that.

Michigan blogger Ironicus Maximus has cleverly rewritten the Satanic resolution story in a blog post entitled, "Utah! Motto: Why Is Everyone Looking At Us?"

This may be a good time to disclaim responsibility for any offense you may take at language or mature themes encountered while poking around other folks' blogs. Then again, you're reading a blog post entitled, "I Sided with Satan -- Again!" So how pure can you be, really? Seriously -- wow, was that the wrong adverb! -- iMax's post includes this paragraph:

David Rodeback, a delegate from American Funk, urged delegates to forcefully reject the resolution, as it would "let Satan know we're on to him." Rodeback said Larsen should push instead for his resolution requiring "Satan Scanners" at all state entry points. "They're sort of like metal scanners," Rodeback said. "Except they only go off if Lucifer is present. Or you voted democratic in any of the last three elections."

Setting aside the minor objection that I would never urge with a split infinitive, I wish I'd thought of that . . .

"Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to amend the rules to allow me to offer a substitute resolution urging the State of Utah to install Satan Scanners at each entry point along the border. . . ."

Seriously -- really, this time -- outright mockery on the convention floor itself may not be the wrong prescription for this level of absurdity if it recurs in future conventions.

David Rodeback comments again (4/28/09):

One Grant Lawrence picked up the story at his blog, noting, "Apparently, it's possible to go too far for even Utah County." He thought -- based on the Salt Lake Tribune's minimal account of what I said -- that I was worried that we Republicans would seem too religious. What I was really trying to do, you might say, was give most of the delegates a handy reason to vote against the barking moonbat wing of the Party. One battle at a time, you know?

David Rodeback comments yet again (4/29/09):

Some friends said that Doug Wright mentioned me very favorably on his KSL Radio show Monday, because of my statement on the Moonbat Resolution. (Yes, I'm officially reviving moonbat and its full form, barking moonbat.) So I went back and listened to the podcast. It was in the third hour, near the beginning of the hour, that he said -- and this is an exact quote --

Thank heaven for David Rodeback, a delegate from American Fork, who urged delegates to forcefully reject the resolution, as it would do the party more harm than good. Thank heaven. David, thank you. . . .

You're welcome.

Then he thanks Joel Wright, a delegate from American Fork, who, he said, agreed with me. (In fairness to my fellow delegate, I should note that he was on the same side of the resolution, but his remarks had a different emphasis.)

Here's a link -- as long as it works -- to an MP3 file of the third hour of Monday's Doug Wright Show, but you don't necessarily have to listen to the whole hour. I suggest you start at the 7:00 mark, just after the news and weather, and listen at least to 9:30. (Those are minutes and seconds.) Most of the rest is a fairly sensible discussion of the whole thing, and worth hearing. If you get as far as 36:20, or perhaps shortly thereafter, you will hear Wright say:

I couldn't agree more. I just couldn't agree more with what David Rodeback, a delegate from American Fork, said as he urged delegates to forcefully reject the resolution. . . . He said the religious language Larsen used would push people away from the GOP.

This quotation and the audio itself require a few comments, all of them short:

  • At least the story is that we defeated the resolution.
  • I suspect that the resolution would have failed had I not spoken against it, but if I helped increase the margin a bit, or articulated a coherent reason to kill such things, which delegates might remember in the future, I'm happy.
  • The preferred pronunciation of my surname has not two, but three syllables, the middle one being "uh." I don't really mind the two-syllable variant; I just don't want my readers who've been using three syllables to think they've been doing it wrong. Some of them care about such things.
  • Clearly I can never run for office in Utah County. I'm not sure I would have anyway, but Doug Wright just isn't conservative enough for a lot of Utah Republicans, so they would reject me on the principle that anyone who agrees with anyone who doesn't fully agree with me is my enemy, or something like that. Then again, the whole Satan thing itself probably overcooked my goose already.

It's not what the media is quoting or paraphrasing, but I still think the essential point in my convention remarks is in the last paragraph (as above): "It is possible -- in fact, it is essential -- to advocate conservative principles in ways that appeal to a broad spectrum of Utahans and Americans."

A final thought: The moonbat minority is a sizable one, but I suppose it's not large enough to justify my going around and telling people that I'm from the reasonable fringe of the party. After all, two-thirds or so of that party's delegates voted with me on the resolution.

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