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Saturday, September 23, 2023

LaVarr Webb and have a “deplorable” moment

Ronald Mortensen, Ph.D.




LaVarr Webb, the publisher of, had a “deplorable” moment when he accused a broad cross-section of Utahns of joining the “fringe groups” that are attempting to repeal the Herbert administration’s and Utah legislature’s tax reform package. If those collecting signatures succeed, Webb can only thank himself for motivating the “fringes” to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.


Just to be clear, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fringe group is a “group with marginal or extremist views.” According to RationalWiki, “On the right, the fringe consists of fundamentalists, fascists, anarcho-capitalists, white supremacists, and other loons. On the left, it consists of revolutionary socialists and communists, especially in a Maoist or Stalinist form.”


If that wasn’t insult enough, Webb doubled down by accusing “Utah’s gubernatorial candidates of pandering to the baser instincts of voters.” So, according to Webb, those who want to vote on tax reform are following “a subconscious urge, behavior, or intuition directed by primeval, animalistic, self-serving, and/or ignoble motivations.”


But Webb doesn’t stop there. He then attacks Republican gubernatorial candidates when he says that it is “easy for them to demagogue the tax package.” He must know that a demagogue is defined as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.” And he even accuses them of lacking courage because they choose to stand with the people rather with those who make up the “Utah Swamp.”


Webb then shows his contempt for Utahns who have come together from all across the political spectrum to collect signatures and to oppose the Utah Swamp when he writes, “I would expect liberal Democrats and far-right people to oppose the tax package and support repeal. They are outside the mainstream of Utah politics and love to complain about nearly everything.”


He concludes by once again labeling those supporting the referendum as “fringes” when he writes “But I am disappointed that gubernatorial candidates who no doubt consider themselves mainstream Republicans are supporting the fringes.”


The day after Webb posted his “fringe” piece, a poll was released. It found that “More than 2/3 of Utahns say they oppose the primary elements of the tax reform package passed by Utah lawmakers in a special session earlier this month.” Does this mean that more than two-thirds of Utahns are “fringes?”


For someone who prides himself on being an expert in political messaging and on public policy, Mr. Webb has really stepped into it big-time. Just as Secretary Clinton’s unfortunate use of the term deplorable galvanized then candidate Trump’s supporters, Webb’s labeling good, honest Utahns of all political stripes as “the fringes” will only bring them closer together.


After all those supporting the referendum already stood side-by-side during a press conference in a multi-partisan show of unity. They coordinate together on the Utah 2019 Tax Referendum Facebook group. They are working together on signature gathering. People signing the referendum packets come from across the political spectrum including large numbers of Webb’s so called “mainstream” Republicans.


Webb’s article may well ensure that those supporting the referendum are even more motivated to fight Utah’s sneaky tax reform that benefits the Utah oligarchs and privileged big businesses. And it will further encourage primary election challenges to Republican incumbents by the “fringes”—Republican Senators Fillmore and Ipson already have challengers. In addition, Democrats will benefit substantially by standing with the people on this issue.


As Craig Bowden wrote in response to Webb’s article: “Yesterday, I was holding the first event in Senator Hillyard's district at the Logan Library. We had a line out the door. You know who showed up?  Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, independents including every county party chair, vice chair, and precinct captains. We had teachers, welders, mechanics, a professor, millionaires, people in poverty, newly married couples, students, politicians, former county commissioners, etc. All walks of life. We are not stupid and don't assume we are.”


Another comment read: “And who are you calling Fringe? The signers of my petition packet come from all walks of life and from multiple political parties. We the people are POd.” This same sentiment was expressed by a comment reading “LaVar (sic), I think you, and the legislature, have kicked the hornets (sic) nest.”


If those collecting signatures succeed, Webb can only thank himself for motivating them to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds by labeling them as “fringes” and accusing them of acting on “primeval, animalistic, self-serving, and/or ignoble motivations.”


And if his beloved “mainstream” Republicans and fellow oligarchs who support them suffer losses at the polls and in their political power, he will have to take some responsibility for that as well.

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