Friends (yes!) in politics

The following post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

friendsPolitics certainly creates strange bedfellows. Over the span of my career I have made very special friends – and, in an era of government shutdowns and hard feelings, I thought I’d share with you a few surprising people in Utah politics who I happen to like.

Few people agree 100 percent of the time, so I get bored quickly with those who introduce odd friendships by saying, “Now, I don’t always agree with him. …” But it seems obligatory to say, so here you go: I don’t always agree with these people but I do admire, respect or simply have a soft spot for them. I take their calls and I enjoy being with them. We don’t necessarily socialize but when I have time to grab a meal with them or work on a project with them, I do. I just like them.

I also should add that these people might not feel the same way about me! Just because I like them doesn’t necessarily mean they like me. So while I don’t want to speak for them, I do think it’s important for responsible citizens to know that people of all stripes can effectively work together.

One of my special friends is state Senator Luz Robles. She is many things I’m not – female, Hispanic, liberal and a Democrat. But, as fate would have it, I had the chance to work closely with her on state-based immigration reform. She is bright, charming and dedicated to her causes. Moreover, she is humble and has a great sense of humor.

On the Republican side, I like Governor Gary Herbert. Not only does he genuinely love Utah, he wakes up every morning wondering what new friends he’ll make that day. He has a core decency and goodness that is palpable. He has gut common sense that cuts through most nonsense. I’ve worked for politicians and, as a reformed Hill rat, I can tell you Governor Herbert is the kind of politician you’d want to work for.

It’s not surprising that many of the politicians for whom I have a soft spot aren’t always that easy to get to know.

For instance, I like state Senator Curt Bramble. He has a big heart but most people only see his tenacity. I defend him all of the time. Sure he has a big ego; so do I – and so does everyone who actually accomplishes anything in politics. Us big red personalities need to stick together. Likewise, I really like Gayle Ruzicka of Utah’s Eagle Forum. Yeah, I know how she’s portrayed by the media and the progressive left – but that’s one of the reasons I like her! I like tough, smart people with lots of heart dedicated to truth.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart is another soft spot for me. She’s intelligent and hard-working – most of all, she pulls me in with a wry smile that I appreciate in times when everyone in the room knows we’re listening to an idiot but everyone is also too polite to say it.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to some folks in the media – even though they’re cringing right now. On the radio, I like Doug Wright and Rod Arquette and, of course, my good friends at KVNU in Logan. Maybe a bit surprising is that I really like Eric Peterson at the progressive City Weekly in Salt Lake.

Again, just because I have soft spots for all of these folks doesn’t mean they like me. But it’s important to know that politics doesn’t always erase our humanity.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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