Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox asks Snow students to consider how society makes changes
EPHRAIM—Is it possible to make change?
The question focused on the political and highlighted the theme of Snow College Convocation’s guest speaker on April 6, Utah’s Lt. Gov Spencer J. Cox. The Sanpete native and Snow alumnus spoke to students and locals about how change can happen, primarily by listening to the other side of the argument, in a speech entitled, “Politics and Kindness.”
At the start of his talk, Cox echoed much of the frustrations of the audience members with the current political climate in the country, even saying that he “hates” politics.
“I do [politics] for a living now,” Cox said, “and I can’t tell you what’s real and what’s not in Washington D.C. right now. Honestly, there is so much information coming in, and there’s so much dissonance in the information.”
From humble beginnings as a sixth-generation Fairview native, Cox grew in the political world to eventually be “hired” to the office lieutenant governor rather than elected, replacing Greg Bell in October of 2012. During Cox’s time in office, he realized the importance of breaking down party lines and working together in government.
Cox said he enjoys the fact that he did not run for election, avoiding the hassle of campaign donors and promises.
“I have the freedom to do or say whatever I want,” Cox said, “and if I get fired, or people don’t want to elect me, even better. I get to go home, and I get to be with my family more.”
Despite the communication crises in the political world, Cox stressed to the audience about the pride he feels in the unified efforts of Utah politicians.
“When I talk negatively about politics, I’m mostly referring to the national scene,” Cox said. “Things are very different here…ninety percent the things that are passed in the legislature are almost unanimous. More so than in any other state, the Republicans work with the Democrats to help them pass bills that work for them, and they work together in a bipartisan way much better than anywhere else.”
Nevertheless, Cox says he fears Utah politics might head down the same path of the national scene, with bitterness beginning to show, and the 2016 Utah election showing a fair example of it.
“My hope is that we never get there,” Cox said.
Cox related his experiences surrounding the shooting last year at the gay club in Orlando, Fla. Not long after the event last year, Cox was invited by LGBT leaders in the state to speak at a rally for the victims. Cox’s hastily prepared speech focused on his philosophy of both sides working together on every issue in the world. The speech quickly hit national news and gave Utah a large amount of attention.
As major news outlets like CNN, NBC, and others told the story, Cox noted with disappointment how many of the news stations publicized the story as an “apology” to the LGBT community, which Cox said was never the point of the speech.
Cox said that politicians and Americans need to “listen to understand.”
“It’s not wrong to have deeply held convictions,” Cox said, “but one of those convictions better be that other people matter, that you care what they think and that you’re willing to listen and learn from them.”