Utah People's Party

…proclain liberty through out all the land….(Leviticus 25:10)

Origin and Purposes

Origin

On our home page, we note that the People’s Party we are building now is not intended to be a totally new party. We are using an LDS party that existed right here in Utah back in the 1800s as a model.

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; ( Doctrine and Covenants 58 : 26 – 27 )

Rather than waiting for a commandment to be delivered to us by the Lord’s authorized representatives, we are acting in accordance with our own free will and on our own initiative. Now days the Church has a Political Neutrality Policy that precludes the historical People’s Party from being copied completely, but by copying the historical party partially, we hope to bring to pass much righteousness.

The name People’s Party has been used by various Parties in various countries. Therefore a person wishing to learn of the historical Utah People’s Party on Wikipedia should include the word Utah in the search term to get the right article. The same is true if using Google or other internet search engine. We did not post the Wikipedia article on the People’s Party Utah. Rather we first learned some of the details of our historical People’s Party from Wikipedia. Roughly between the years 1870 and 1890, there was a political party here in Utah that defended the majority religion and defended constitutional government. The two decade period from 1870 to 1890 was before Utah became a state which happened in 1896, so the historical People’s Party operated in Utah territory rather than in the state of Utah which is significant. In 1870 when the party began, the majority of Utahns were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which was considered by most other Americans in the 1800’s to be a strange, alien cult that should not be tolerated in the United States. Most Americans back then claimed to believe in freedom of religion, but when they met early Latter Day Saints, other Americans forgot their own ideals. The Latter Day Saints were driven from state to state until they settled in Illinois. There in 1844 the first president of the Church, Joseph Smith, was killed and later the other Saints driven out. Under the leadership of Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, the Saints fled to Utah which at the time was almost uninhabited and considered uninhabitable by most Americans because it was desert. When the Saints arrived, there was no organization among them other than the Church so the Church took on roles that would seem very odd a century later to both those in the Church and those not in the Church. The Church set up many of the businesses including Zion’s Bank, and Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI, a department store) and the territorial and local governments. For decades there were no political parties and candidates for public office endorsed by church leaders usually ran unopposed. Brigham Young himself served as territorial Governor for the first decade of the existence of Utah Territory.

Rapid growth of the population was caused by both a high birth rate and inward migrations. At first, most newcomers came because they were LDS converts and had been urged to gather with the saints, but when coal and various other ores were discovered, the lure of high paying mining jobs started to attract people other than Latter Day Saints to Utah. These people other than Latter Day Saints were often called gentiles by the Saints. The gentiles were not comfortable with the union of church and state. By 1870, there were enough miners and other gentiles that they could form their own political party which they called the Liberal Party. The word liberal comes from the same Latin root as the word liberty. The Gentiles hoped that their new party would liberate or free them from what they saw as religious oppression. Disappointingly for critics of the Church, it was very easy for the Saints to counter the Liberal Party by forming a pro LDS party to compete with it. This pro LDS party was called the People’s Party to emphasize that Brigham Young and other church leaders were super influential only because most Utah citizens were real believers. A tyrant exerts influence by using threats, bribery, and trickery. Brigham Young and other Church leaders did not use any of these forms of influence. President Young could get most politically active Utahns to do what he advised because they saw him as God’s true spokesman on Earth, not because he ever did anything tyrannical. Implementing the instructions of Church leaders was implementing the will of the people of Utah at a time when a super majority of Utahns were eager to follow along.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights…that to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed…. (Declaration of Independence)

It is true as the Declaration of Independence says that just political power comes from the consent of the governed. What some people who say they agree with the Declaration do not realize is that the majority of the people really might consent to a government that a minority considers theocratic.

For the next two Decades, from 1870 to about 1890, The People’s Party won all territory wide races and most local races as well, but the Liberal Party did win in a few locations that had higher than average concentrations of gentiles. In 1877, after 33 years as the top leader of Latter Day Saints, Brigham Young died. Through out the entire administration of his successor, John Taylor, the confrontation between the Liberal Party and the People’s Party continued. When President Taylor died and Wilford Woodruf succeeded him, the Liberal and People’s Parties still struggled against each other. Later, President Woodruf and other Church leaders began urging the Saints to work within both the national parties (Republican and Democratic) to get statehood for Utah. There had been multiple previous attempts to get Congress to admit Utah into the Union as a state, but Congress had not considered those earlier statehood requests. The final, and biggest push for statehood that began about 1890 took six years of continuously focus effort to succeed, but in 1896, Utah became the 45th state. The fact that the People’s Party existed before Utah had statehood is significant because the Party was disbanded as part of the effort to get statehood.

Back in the eighteen hundreds, the People’s Party was not a conventional American political party. Candidates were not self appointed as are those in a conventional party. Rather candidates were called to serve. Furthermore, both the candidates and those who called them were usually high ranking officers of the Church. In those days, the priesthood directly controlled both the Church and the Party.

Purposes
for the revival of the People’s Party.

We state on our home page that we would share the vices of the existing political parties if we were to use any of them as a model while developing our own party. However, the People’s Party that existed back in the 1800s right here in Utah is not an existing party and therefore it is not excluded from use as a model by the statement on our home page. Indeed since that historical People’s Party is the source of the name of the modern People’s Party, and of the idea of a political party dedicated to the defense of the majority faith of a state, it would be vary odd not to use the former party as a model for the current one.

A question arises because of the fact that the Church disbanded the historical party. Is reviving the People’s Party acting against the will or intent of the Church? In the 1890s the Church urged its members to join the national parties (Republican and Democratic) in roughly equal proportion. Has that policy changed? The relevant policy we find stated on LDS.org in the Year of Our Lord 2012 follows.

POLITICAL NEUTRALITY

The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.

The Church does not:
-Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
-Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
-Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
-Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

The Church does:
-Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
-Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
-Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.
-Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.

In the United States, where nearly half of the world’s Latter-day Saints live, it is customary for the Church at each national election to issue a letter to be read to all congregations encouraging its members to vote, but emphasizing the Church’s neutrality in partisan political matters.

Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

Modern scriptural references to the role of government: Doctrine and Covenants, Section 134

The part not quoted above “….” for the sake of brevity pertains to political activities of high officers of the Church.

Can the Church urge its members to join the Republican and Democratic parties and also not “attempt to direct its members as to which … party they should give their votes to.”? No, so the former policy regarding political parties must have been replaced by the current political neutrality policy.
Why then should the Saints have their own party again? Why should they revive the People’s Party? The majority faith of Utah is again under attack from government and therefore again in need of protection from government. This time all limits on political power are also under attack so the vary idea of Constitutional Government needs to be defended.

71 And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament.

75 These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.

78 Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun.
79 These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.
80 And now this is the end of the vision which we saw of the terrestrial, that the Lord commanded us to write while we were yet in the Spirit. ( DC 76 : 71 , 75 , 78 – 80)

With regard to fulfilling all of the Lord’s requirements for us as citizens, we must bare in mind that the Lord describes those who will inherit the Terrestrial Kingdom as “…not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (DC 76:79). Logically, therefore to inherit the Celestial Kingdom, one must be valiant in the testimony of Jesus. It is our understanding that in order to be valiant, a person must learn to take the Lord’s side on every issue and that every issue includes both the issues that come up in personal life and the issues that come up in our political participation as citizens. The Utah People’s Party is being revived to provide devout Latter Day Saints with the opportunity to support candidates that will take the Lord’s side consistently on matters of politics and public policy. Furthermore, we can provide a better experience than any existing party because we will be more spiritual. Furthermore, historical experience shows that a party whose candidates fail to win public office can nevertheless have a huge effect on public policy. This is explained in more detail on the page called Victory.

There are five pages each of which elaborates on one of the purposes for bringing back the People’s Party.

  • Constitutional Government–what it is, why it is important, People’s Party will advocate it.
  • Principled Prosperity–Some principles of material prosperity we should teach
  • Healthy Relationships–among citizens and between citizen and the political elite
  • Minor Candidates–more on the need for them
  • Healthy Church State relationship–freedom of religion and other points

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