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Mitt Romney's Utah Alternative

“Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” Romney ... Perhaps they might raise their homes on stilts? But a powerful faction among the villagers is always at hand to explain why these ideas won’t work. “No law can keep our village ...

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The former Republican presidential nominee extolled his adoptive state’s values as a better option for his party, and his country, as he announced his bid for Senate. Jim Urquhart / Reuters Most Popular The Full Text of Mueller's Indictment of 13 Russians Priscilla Alvarez and Taylor Hosking Feb 16, 2018 The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors Robinson Meyer Feb 17, 2018 Bari Weiss and the Left-Wing Infatuation With Taking Offense Shadi Hamid Feb 17, 2018 Airbnb and the Unintended Consequences of 'Disruption' Derek Thompson Feb 17, 2018 Why Amazon Pays Some of Its Workers to Quit Alana Semuels Feb 14, 2018 McKay Coppins Feb 16, 2018 Politics Share Tweet … LinkedIn Email Print Text Size Mitt Romney launched his long-anticipated campaign on Friday, tweeting, “I am running for United States Senate to serve the people of Utah and bring Utah’s values to Washington.”Over recent weeks, much of the national pundit chatter has focused on whether he will be returning to the political arena as a friend or foe to Donald TrumpBut in interviews this week, advisers and allies close to the candidate told me he will seek to avoid direct combat with the president this year, and emerge instead as a full-throated pitchman for his adoptive home state—making the case that Utah’s distinctive brand of conservatism could offer a better way forward for the GOP and the nation.“Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” Romney said in his announcement video, presenting the Beehive State as a model for emulationHe cited its balanced budget, export-based economy, and openness to immigration“And on Utah’s capitol hill,” he pointedly added, “people treat one another with respect.”“I think it will be very much a Utah-centric campaign,” said Derek Miller, a longtime Romney ally and the CEO of Utah’s World Trade Center“[Romney] wants the country to look at Utah as an exampleWhy are things going so well here? … What lessons are there to learn, and how do you take them back to the nation’s capital?”Romney has previewed this message himself in a handful of public appearances this year, extolling Utah’s pro-business ethos, robust civil society, and pragmatic policymakingIn a speech to the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce last month, Romney raved about “how much Utah has to teach the nation”—flipping through slides as he detailed the state’s booming economy, its efforts to curb carbon emissions, and its success in navigating issues like immigration that continue to divide and perplex Washington, D.C.All of this might sound like pandering from a carpetbagger looking to curry favor with would-be constituentsAfter all, Romney grew up in Michigan and spent most of his adult life in MassachusettsBut people close to him say that Romney—who famously turned around the floundering Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, and later became the first Mormon to win a major-party presidential nomination—has long felt a deep kinship with UtahWhen his 2012 presidential bid ended, he and his wife Ann chose to build a house outside of Salt Lake, and Romney has spent much of his semi-retirement in the state skiing, playing with his grandkids, and hosting an annual summit for high-powered politicos and corporate leaders in Park City.“He and Ann could have lived anywhere in the country … and this is the place where they felt most comfortable living out the rest of their livesThey built a house to die in, basically,” said a Romney adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss private matters.More to the point, the adviser said, Romney is a true believer in the Utah model of governance—and he plans to make it a central theme of his campaignRather than define himself as the Republican antidote to Trump, he will champion a brand of Republicanism that he believes could be the antidote to TrumpismRather than barnstorm the state with withering condemnations of the president’s character—as he did in 2016, when he denounced Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud”—he will seek to advance a proactive policy vision to contend with Trump-style nationalism.Romney will continue to call out the president’s behavior when he  feels compelled to, advisers say—as he did in the wake of Charlottesville—but he won’t be piling on after every outlandish early-morning Tweet“I would be surprised if he mentions Trump’s name 10 times on the campaign trail,” said Miller.Of course, such a strategy is unlikely to satisfy those yearning for a dose of #NeverTrump catharsis in Romney’s rhetoric.“I think a lot of people are predicting this kind of cage match between Romney and Trump,” said Boyd Matheson, who served as Senator Mike Lee’s chief of staff and is now an editor at the Deseret News“Some of those people hate Romney, and some of those people hate Trump, and both of those groups are going to be sadly disappointedHe’s not going to pick fights with the president just for the sake of picking fights.”But while Romney may not be joining the resistance quite yet, his allies argue that this circumspect strategy could be more productive in the long run.Even as Trump has successfully conquered much of American conservatism, deep-red Utah has remained surprisingly resistant to his foraysIn the 2016 primaries, Trump suffered his worst defeat in the state, finishing dead last behind even John KasichHe ended up carrying Utah in the fall, but with just a paltry plurality of the vote—in a state that had backed Romney against Obama by nearly 50 pointsAnd in the year since he took office, there has been little indication that the state’s Republicans feel pressured to board the Trump TrainWhen Trump rolled out his controversial travel ban, Utah’s governor went out of his way to tout the state’s history of welcoming refugeesMeanwhile, in last year’s special election to replace Representative Jason Chaffetz, the winner was a relatively moderate, business-friendly mayor who admitted that he hadn’t voted for Trump.“I always laugh when people say we’re the reddest of red states,” said Rod Arquette, a popular conservative talk-radio host in Utah“I don’t believe we are as conservative as people say we areOn some of the moral issues, we’re conservativeBut I also think we’re willing to listen and try to solve problemsWe have a culture of collaboration here.”That culture has made headlines in recent years as policymakers, faith leaders, and activists across the political spectrum have worked together to come up with innovative approaches to immigration, homelessness, religious freedom, and LGBT rightsMany Utah Republicans believe their state offers a model for what post-Trump GOP governance might look like.These dynamics help explain how Romney has managed to remain so popular in a heavily Republican state (one poll put his statewide favorability rating at 69 percent) while keeping his distance from a Republican presidentAnd while a handful of obscure Republicans have expressed interest in challenging Romney, he is widely favored to win the primary and the generalAs Arquette told me, “I think the coronation has already begun for Mitt Romney.”Romney’s influence in the state was on full display this week, when Utah Republican Chairman Rob Anderson gave an interview to the Salt Lake Tribune harshly criticizing the Romney’s candidacy“I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” he told the paper, adding, “He has never been a Trump supporter.”Instead of casting doubt on Romney’s chances at the seat, Anderson’s remarks were met with a swift and punishing backlash from Utah RepublicansOne top elected official told me he was “shocked” by the commentsAnother high-powered Republican called the interview “idiocy,” while a third charitably chalked it up to Anderson’s “anxiousness” and “inexperience.” (All three sources requested anonymity to offer candid assessments of a local party leader.) By day’s end, Anderson was forced into a full retreat, releasing a statement that praised Romney and expressed “regret” that his comments “came across as disparaging or unsupportive.”But if Romney appears politically invincible now in the state he hopes to represent—and champion—in Washington, his advisers insist that he’s not taking anything for grantedIn the weeks to come, he is expected to travel the state extensively, meeting with voters, immersing himself in hyperlocal issues, and prioritizing Utah news outlets over national media.“I think when he pulls up in his pickup truck in a county convention with the other candidates and walks up without a big entourage, Utahns are going to be blown away by that,” said Thomas Wright, a Republican National Committee Member from Utah“I think that’s what he’s going to do.” Share Tweet Latest Video The Problem With #MeToo’s Agenda Caitlin Flanagan argues that the #MeToo movement is becoming big enough to be rendered meaningless. Caitlin Flanagan Feb 16, 2018 About the Author McKay Coppins is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The Wilderness, a book about the battle over the future of the Republican Party. Twitter Most Popular Presented by Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty The Full Text of Mueller's Indictment of 13 Russians Priscilla Alvarez and Taylor Hosking The special counsel indicted the Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election, the Department of Justice announced Friday. On Friday, February 16, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein announced that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, had indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on charges that including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theftThis is the full text of that indictment. IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA * * CRIMINAL NOv* * (18 U.S.C§§ 2,371, 1349, 1028A) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v  INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC         A/K/A MEDIASINTEZ LLC A/K/A         GLAVSET LLC A/K/A MIXINFO         LLC A/K/A AZIMUT LLC A/K/A NOVINFO LLC, CONCORD MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING LLC, CONCORD CATERING, YEVGENIY VIKTOROVICH PRIGOZHIN, Continue Reading One is wearing a jacket that says "Stoneman Douglas" on the back." class="lazyload"> Thom Baur / AP The Righteous Anger of the Parkland Shooting’s Teen Survivors Robinson Meyer Students have mourned and rallied the public after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that left 17 dead. Something was different about the mass shooting this week in Parkland, Florida, in which 14 students and three adults were killed. It was not only the death tollThe mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High became the deadliest high-school shooting in American history (edging out Columbine, which killed 13 in 1999). What made Parkland different were the people who stepped forward to describe itHigh-school students—the survivors of the calamity themselves—became the voice of the tragedyTweets that were widely reported as coming from the students expressed grief for the victims, pushed against false reports, and demanded accountability. We are too young to be losing friends like this. — Javi ?? (@Javier_Lovera__) February 15, 2018 Continue Reading Mike Blake / Reuters Bari Weiss and the Left-Wing Infatuation With Taking Offense Shadi Hamid Outrage mobs are chipping away at democracy, one meaningless debate at a time. The mob was unusually vociferous, even for TwitterAfter the California-born ice skater Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics, the New York Times writer Bari Weiss commented “Immigrants: They get the job done.” What followed that innocuous tweet was one of the sillier, manufactured controversies I have ever seen on TwitterTwitter’s socially conscious denizens probably only realized they should be outraged at Weiss after they saw other people being outraged, as is so often the caseOutside of Twitter, some of Weiss’s Times colleagues were also offended by the tweet—and even hurt by itThe critics’ objection was that Nagasu isn’t herself an immigrant, but rather the child of immigrants, and so calling her one was an example of “perpetual othering.” Continue Reading Gabrielle Lurie / Reuters Airbnb and the Unintended Consequences of 'Disruption' Derek Thompson Tech analysts are prone to predicting utopia or dystopiaThey’re worse at imagining the side effects of a firm's success. The U.S economy is in the midst of a wrenching technological transformation that is fundamentally changing the way people sleep, work, eat, shop, love, read, and interact. At least, that’s one interpretation. A second story of this age of technological transformation says that it’s mostly a facade—that the last 30 years have been a productivity bust and little has changed in everyday life, aside from the way everyone reads and watches videosPeople wanted flying cars and got Netflix binges instead. Let’s call these the Disrupt Story and the Dud Story of technologyWhen a new company, app, or platform emerges, it’s common for analysts to divide into camps—Disrupt vsDud—with some yelping that the new thing will change everything and others yawning with the expectation that traditionalism will win out. Continue Reading Julio Cortez / AP Why Amazon Pays Some of Its Workers to Quit Alana Semuels The company’s unusual offer—to give employees up to $5,000 for leaving—may actually be a way to get them to stay longer. On Monday, Amazon reportedly began a series of rare layoffs at its headquarters in Seattle, cutting several hundred corporate employeesBut this week, something quite different is happening at the company’s warehouses and customer-service centers across the country: Amazon will politely ask its “associates”—full-time and part-time hourly employees—if they’d prefer to quitAnd if they do, Amazon will pay them as much as $5,000 for walking out the door. Officially called “The Offer,” this proposition is, according to Amazon, a way to encourage unhappy employees to move on“We believe staying somewhere you don’t want to be isn’t healthy for our employees or for the company,” Ashley Robinson, an Amazon spokesperson, wrote to me in an emailThe amount full-time employees get offered ranges from $2,000 to $5,000, and depends on how long they have been at the company; if they take the money, they agree to never work for Amazon again(The idea for all this originated at Zappos, the online shoe retailer that Amazon bought in 2009.) Continue Reading Yuri Gripas / Reuters Mueller's Message to America Paul Rosenzweig The clear goal of the special counsel is to speak to the American public about the seriousness of Russian interference. With yet another blockbuster indictment (why is it always on a Friday afternoon?), Special Counsel Robert Mueller has, once again, upended WashingtonAnd this time, it is possible  that his efforts may have a wider effect outside the Beltway. For those following the matter, there has been little doubt that Russian citizens attempted to interfere with the American presidential electionThe American intelligence agencies  publicized  that conclusion more than a year ago in a report issued in January 2017, and it has stood by the analysis whenever it has been questionedBut some in the country have doubted the assertion—asking for evidence of interference that was not forthcoming. Now the evidence has been laid out in painful detail by the special counselIf any significant fraction of what is alleged in the latest indictment is true (and we should, of course, remind ourselves that an indictment is just an allegation—not proof), then this tale is a stunning condemnation of Russian activityA Russian organization with hundreds of employees and a budget of millions of dollars is said to have systematically engaged in an effort (code named “Project Lakhta”) to undermine the integrity of the election and, perhaps more importantly, to have attempted to influence the election to benefit then-candidate Donald TrumpAmong the allegations, the Russians: Continue Reading Jordan)" class="lazyload"> Marvel Black Panther Is More Than a Superhero Movie Christopher Orr The director Ryan Coogler's addition to the Marvel pantheon is a superb genre film—and quite a bit more. Note: Although this review avoids plot spoilers, it does discuss the thematic elements of the film at some length. After an animated introduction to the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, Black Panther opens in Oakland in 1992This may seem an odd choice, but it is in fact quite aptThe film’s director, Ryan Coogler, got his start in the city, having been born there in 1986His filmmaking career has its roots there, too, as it was the setting for his debut feature, Fruitvale Station. A bunch of schoolboys (a fictionalized young Coogler perhaps among them) play pickup hoops on a court with a milk-crate basketBut in the tall apartment building above them two black radicals are plotting a robberyThere’s a knock on the door and one of the men looks through the peephole: “Two Grace Jones–lookin’ chicks—with spears!” I won’t recount the rest of the scene, except to note that the commingling of two very different iterations of the term “Black Panther”—the comic-book hero and the revolutionary organization, ironically established just months apart in 1966—is in no way accidental, and it will inform everything that follows. Continue Reading Minnesota Historical Society When Malls Saved the Suburbs From Despair Ian Bogost Like it or not, the middle class became global citizens through consumerism—and they did so at the mall. “Okay, we’ll see you in two-and-a-half hours,” the clerk tells me, taking the iPhone from my handI’m at the Apple Store, availing myself of a cheap smartphone battery replacement, an offer the company made after taking heat for deliberately slowing down devicesA test run by a young woman typing at a feverish, unnatural pace on an iPad confirms that mine desperately needed the swapAs she typed, I panickedWhat will I do in the mall for so long, and without a phone? How far the mall has fallen that I rack my brain for something to do here. The Apple Store captures everything I don’t like about today’s mallA trip here is never easy—the place is packed and chaotic, even on weekdaysIt runs by its own private logic, cashier and help desks replaced by roving youths in seasonally changing, colored T-shirts holding iPads, directing traffic. Continue Reading

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