ST. GEORGE – As the presidential election results descended like a disappointing cloud upon Republicans in Washington County last night, Washington County Republican Party Chairman, Willie Billings, spoke his perspective and encouragement for the GOP in Utah and Southern Utah in an interview with St. George News. He called his local party a “beacon of hope” and also rebutted those who argue that Republicans and Democrats are more the same than different.
Listen to the full audio of Billings’ statement:
Recapping in part, Billings spoke with some regret and pride combined:
“So far, there’s obviously – on the national level with the presidential race – we’re a little bit discouraged on what happened,” Billings said. “Certainly we all believed that the spirit of the Republican Party and with the state of our economy, that the masses of the country would speak out and that we’d elect Gov. Romney as president.”
But we can’t always get what we want on the national basis, Billings said, and therefore turned his attention to state and county levels.
“My job as the chairman,” Billings said, “and my goal, was to make sure that Washington County maintained its Republican roots and Republican stronghold and not give up any ground to the Democrats, and we have not.”
Billings said that over the coming years, he expects the rest of the states will look to Utah and Washington County as a beacon of hope for what the country should be.
During this election cycle, Billings said he came to understand differences between Republican and Democrat values.
“Republicans,” he said, “truly believe that people are genuinely good and will generally make the right decisions and do good and help each other. And so we believe that we need to take care of ourselves, we need to take care of our neighbors, our friends, our communities, and help people helping people.”
But Democrats, he said, believe that people are not good and that people will eventually make the bad mistakes and can’t take care of themselves, and they look to government to step in.
“And there’s a big opposite right there,” Billings said. He said that the message he keeps hearing from Democrats on all levels is Democratic Party, Republican Party, we’re basically the same, we believe all the same things. Billings said to an extent we’re all patriots, we all love our country, but clarified that we have very differing views of our citizens, our citizenship and our belief systems, of how we treat each other and how we should be governed. Examples he gave were the Republican’s respect for sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage.
On the other side of the aisle, disappointment handed the Democratic Party locally last night was offset by their delight in the national results.
“I think it was the exact right thing to do,” House District 74 candidate Lee Ann Riddoch said. “I’m very happy.”
Tomorrow is guaranteed, Dorothy Engleman, Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said, announcing to her party that the state Democratic Party has contributed funding to keep the local office operating for another year.
Anyone who has met Engelman likely perceives, she is not one to go away, she has a plan for her party and intends to continue promoting it.
Engelman’s plans for the future involve getting more Democrats involved in local nonpartisan races like city council and school board races. She said that involvement in nonpartisan positions can serve as a “training ground” opportunity for Democrats who want to get governmental experience in a nonpartisan way; that it is a natural stepping stone to higher elected office, to running partisan races down the line – that it will help them build a foundation and “establish a record to stand on.”
The hard-fought election may be done, and conflicting emotions from gladness to grief will continue to emerge along with some relief that this battle is decided. But it is clear, the battle and the division of ideologies on matters of government and society are far from over.
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