Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 13, 2012
Republican Party must now embrace diversity

By all accounts, I should be happy to be a Republican in Tooele County. On the local level, Republicans won in all the contests. On the state level, we did pretty good, too.

Then why am I going through an identity crisis?

I can see why it’s easy to be an apathetic citizen. When something like the national election doesn’t matter to you so much, it’s easier to recover from a lower expectation. And well, I wanted Mitt Romney to win. Badly. After that first debate, it seemed like it was possible. He looked like presidential material.

But the president came out swinging. The Obama campaign made my blood boil with their personal attacks on Romney’s character. But they were right — I hate to admit it. By the end of Romney’s campaign, not only did I not know where he stood on things, I didn’t know where I, as a Republican, should stand on things. If he’s supposed to reflect all things Republican, where did that leave me?

I know that Mitt Romney is a good guy. But he kept switching positions to the very end. It was embarrassingly painful to watch him be so willing to do anything, short of selling his soul, to win the presidency. That doesn’t make for an impressive character trait, that waffling, and yet I’m guilty of that too.

I am LDS. My church teaches that homosexuality is a sin. But I ache for others who cannot marry someone they love. And I’ve known wonderful, interesting, amazing people who happen to be homosexual. Does that make me a traitor to the principle that marriage should be between a man and a woman?

I am a minority who believes that people should immigrate here legally. But when I saw the diverse makeup of people from different ethnicities waiting for Obama to give his victory speech in Chicago, I wished I could experience that, too, in the Republican Party. I’ve often wondered how a political party expects to thrive into the next century when there’s hardly any diversity in their rank-and-file members.

Politics is a complicated beast.

The other day, I went to a personal history conference and an Asian-American visitor from California looked around with a perplexed expression and asked, “Where are the minorities?”

I told the visitor, chipper-like, “Well, I’m here!” But I knew what she’s asking. So I asked myself, why did I not only attend the conference, but help organize it? My answer was because I felt like I would get something out of it. I felt like I would be welcome. That I was needed.

As a Republican, I also can’t help but wonder, “Where are the minorities?” We can’t exactly force minorities to be involved in the party, they have to come of their own accord. It’s just unsettling, though, to have such low minority involvement because I know our nation is more diverse than that.

Too bad Mia Love lost. She could have debunked the myth that only white males belong to the Republican Party. Thing is, token winners are no longer enough. Lip service to the importance of everyone isn’t enough.

Republicans can either retreat into themselves or take this on as a challenge for renewal. I hope they’ll choose the latter.

Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. She blogs at

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