Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 Questions about the Utah mid-term election

Herewith, a mid-term test.  How much do you know about the issues in the upcoming November 2nd mid-term election?  Consider these questions:

1.  Why is it called the "mid-term" election?

2.  Who's running for Governor of the State of Utah?

3.  Who's running for Senate in the State of Utah?

4.  Who's running in the Utah 2nd Congressional District, and why does it matter?

5.  Who controls the education budget in the State of Utah?

6.  Why does my vote this year matter?

7.  Is it too late to register to vote?

8.  When does early voting begin?

9.  Why should I vote, when there's so much voter apathy?

10.  What's the best way to become informed on the issues?

Now scroll down and view my answers:

President Barack Obama
1.  The reason it's called the "mid-term election" is we are halfway through the first term of the President of the United States.  Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with "hope and change" as his mantra and campaign slogan.  He was swept into office with the help of the "independent" voters in this country who often determine elections.  Midway through his first term he has managed to offend and disenfranchise nearly everyone -- I know that sounds a little too overstated, but in this case it's probably true.  The extreme left wing of the Democrat Party doesn't seem to think he's liberal enough, along with some other members of Congress who have been running for the hills instead of proudly boasting of their legislative victories.  I find it almost impossible to believe, but there are some who thought Bob Bennett (R-UT) wasn't conservative enough either, so go figure.  Those folks on both ends are extremists.  I noted with interest today even Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, is signaling he's thinking of voting Republican this year to try to unseat Jim Matheson in the 2nd Congressional District, since Rocky thinks Jim is too much of a fence sitter and isn't a reliable Democratic vote in Congress.  He might be shocked to learn that in the last two years, Jim Matheson has voted exactly the same way Nancy Pelosi did 93% of the time!  That's pretty reliable liberal thinking where I come from.  But I digress.  The independent voter, once wooed by candidate Obama has been largely turned off by the policies and the profligate spending in Washington.  They're worried that we've amassed too much debt.  Ditto the Republicans, who have criticized Obama from day one, and now it's become a tidal wave of discontent.  They're licking their chops as they count noses, expecting a huge sweep of historic proportions.

Governor Gary Herbert
2.  Gary Herbert is the sitting governor in Utah, assuming his seat when Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. was tapped as Ambassador to China by President Obama.  This election cycle is the end of the four-year term Huntsman was serving when Gary Herbert as Lieutenant Governor stepped up to the Governor's office.  He named Greg Bell as his Lieutenant Governor.  They are facing opposition from Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who named Republican Sheryl Allen as his running mate, hoping to attract some Republican voters.  However, Peter Corroon has run a negative mud-slinging campaign, while Herbert has chosen to withhold the negative ads his ad agency produced.  Herbert has been criticized in virtually every way possible, as Corroon has made it appear as though Herbert is corrupt and is taking illegal campaign donations from contractors with whom the state has awarded contracts and settled lawsuits that might have cost the state even more time and delays.  Little of it, of course, has stuck.  Even though pollsters will tell you negative campaigning can move the approval rating short-term, Utahns have mostly rejected negative ads.  Herbert has run on the issues, and his biggest issue is education funding.  Sixty-five percent of the state budget is devoted to education in Utah.  Herbert took a $400 million shortfall in education and trimmed it to $10 million in his 2010 budget, pulling off a minor miracle in the process.  Other departments suffered deep cuts to preserve education funding.  And what does he get from Corroon?  A misleading ad that says Herbert doesn't care about education because he slashed education spending by $10 million.  It's true, but what about the other $390 million that could have been lost?  Herbert will continue to grow the Utah economy as his solution to provide funding by attracting out of state businesses looking to find refuge from high taxation and a diminishing workforce of qualified employees (read California).

Utah's Next Senator, Mike Lee
3.  Mike Lee came from nowhere in January to defeat the aging three-term incumbent, Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT), in a state nominating convention race, then Tim Bridgewater in a narrowly-won primary election victory.  His mettle has been tested and his resolve has not waned.  I endorsed Mike Lee early and often as the race leading up to the state convention heated up.  I believed then, and I still believe he's the right man in the right place at the right time for Utah.  He's opposed on the Democrat side by Sam Granato, a businessman who, some say, brings more maturity and a business background to the race.  Jim Bennett, son of Bob Bennett, who managed the Senator's campaign unsuccessfully and couldn't even get elected himself as a state delegate from his own precinct, jumped ship after the primary and now serves as Granato's communications director.  But none dares to call that sour grapes and being a sore and sour loser -- certainly not I.  It's a statewide election for Senator.  One-third of all U.S. Senate seats are up for election each two years.  In 2012, it will be Senator Orrin Hatch's turn to face the music, and he's already running (if you hadn't noticed), no doubt fearing the same fate suffered by Senator Bennett.  In both cases, the unspoken reality was their age.  Senator Bennett is 77 years old.  On election day, 2012, Orrin Hatch will be 78 years old.  The era of career politicians, I believe, is coming to a swift and abrupt halt in 2010.  Happily, there are many qualified replacements nationwide and here in Utah.

Utah's Next Congressman, Morgan Philpot
 4.  In the 2nd Congressional District in Utah, the candidates could not be more different this year.  Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) is opposed by Morgan Philpot.  The perception among voters in Utah is that Matheson is a moderate Democrat.  I used to believe it until I checked his voting record.  He's as liberal as anyone in Washington.  I eschew party labels, and I hate to even use the terms because they are such generalizations, but the only vote of magnitude where Matheson didn't back House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was Obamacare, knowing in Utah it would have assured the end of his political career.  I've voted for Matheson five times, and I'm like a lot of Utahns in the 2nd District who have kept sending him there because of token opposition along the way.  However, this year, Morgan Philpot is my candidate.  He's got the reliable conservative credentials to represent Utah, I believe, and I urge everyone to check him out.  I was walking a precinct last Saturday over in Heber City, persuading everyone with whom I spoke to consider seriously what his election will mean to Utah and to America.  If 41 seats in Congress can be switched from the Democrat majority, there will be an immediate halt to out-of-control spending, bailouts, entitlements and foreign debt accumulation our children and grandchildren are already compelled to pay back.  Each two years, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for re-election.  It's the "People's House," and this year the people will have a chance to take back their destiny.  That's why this race matters -- it's one of 41 seats needed to reverse course and assure a cessation of what we have seen these past two years.  America now knows firsthand the damage one party in power in two of the three branches of government can conjure up.  Truth be told, it happens historically in every mid-term election.  Voters are given the privilege of "buyer's remorse" when they feel abandoned and abused.  That's the genius of the United States Constitution.  It's self-correcting if the electorate is aroused.  It's exactly what the founders designed for self-governing free people, and it's a gift of inestimable worth we can never discount.

5.  I spoke with a woman who had four registered children living at home on Saturday.  All five voters in that home were registered as Democrats.  She's a single mom and a school teacher.  When I introduced her to Morgan Philpot as a possible replacement for Jim Matheson, the first question she asked me was, "Where does Philpot stand on education funding?"  I had to educate the educator that education funding has nothing to do with the candidates in the 2nd Congressional District.  Education funding is part of the Governor's budget each year that he proposes to the State House of Representatives for approval, and then eventually to the State Senate.  Property taxes assessed and collected by the 29 Utah counties each year is what primarily pays for school expenses, in addition to taxes from the general fund.  She obviously was unaware of how things work in the government (she wasn't a Social Studies teacher), and I suspect she might be only one of many who likewise do not understand how it all works.  She thanked me for my brief doorstep tutorial, overheard by all her adult children, and then uttered these golden words, "If someone like you (meaning an old guy like you) cares enough to get out and knock on doors on a Saturday morning, then you must really believe in what you're doing."  She was right!  I'm hoping she cares enough to cross over this year and vote for Morgan Philpot and Gary Herbert.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi
6.  I am one of those reformed members of the "silent majority" that coasted along for many years.  I voted routinely year after year, but I have concluded (incorrectly for too many years) that living in Utah where there is a vast Republican majority -- the "reddest state" in the Union -- that my vote didn't really matter much.  I've changed course this year.  I don't know when I've been so involved as I am this year.  At the end of this Congress, a vote to adjourn was proposed without bringing up the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for debate and vote before the election.  It was a tie vote in the House of Representatives over the adjournment motion.  Pelosi cast the deciding vote to adjorn.  Had Jim Matheson voted to stay in session and oppose Nancy Pelosi, they would still be there doing what they were elected to do -- the people's business.  Instead, ONE VOTE sent the House members scattering back to their districts to raise money for their re-election campaigns.  Does one vote matter?  You bet it does!  Make your vote count on November 2nd this year!

7.  It's too late to register online or by mail or to get an absentee ballot, but you can still go to your county clerk's office in person and register to vote.  Don't let this election slip past without getting registered.  If you don't register, you can't vote.

8.  Early voting begins on October 19th.  Polling places will be open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day until election day.  You can call your county clerk's office to get the details on polling locations.

Women voters in Iraq
9.  You can disagree with the Bush-era decision to go to war in Iraq, and the subsequent fallout and contention spilling over into Afghanistan -- war is never popular forever -- but this much cannot be denied: The people liberated from the sadistic rule of Saddam Hussein have demonstrated just how much they value their right to vote and have a voice in democracy.  They have showed up at the polling booths in impressive percentages -- exceeding 80 percent in almost every election since they were freed from the dictator's despotic iron fist.  They vote under threat of death sometimes, as the competing factions continue to contend with one another internally for control of the country.  The marginalization of women is slowly giving way to full participation and their right and freedom to vote is prized.  Sadly, a majority of Americans now believe it wasn't worth the price we paid to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime.  Try to tell that to the people of Iraq, who remain grateful and value their new-found freedoms perhaps more than we who have inherited ours.  Why should we vote in this upcoming election?  Because the blood of our forefathers assured us that privilege.  Can we do less?

10.  I determined I would get off the sidelines this year, and I did.  I made it a point to become acquainted with the candidates, made my picks, then ran for election as a state delegate from my precinct to the nominating convention.  I believe there has never been a time in my life when the choices were more distinct and straightforward.  I have diligently ignored the screaming rhetoric from the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum this year.  I advise all to do the same.  Learn your truth from within the mainstream moderate voices of reason.  Seek out the candidates' websites and learn their positions for yourselves.  Don't rely on what others say about them.  Make up your own mind.  While it is obvious I am conservative and think of myself as moderate (there are those meaningless labels again), I try to keep an open mind.  I'm looking for leaders who are independent thinkers regardless of their political party affiliation.  There is a reason.  If the Republicans don't get it right this time (and they have two years to do it, assuming the electorate gives them the reins in Congress again), then Americans will become even more enraged with what comes out of Washington, and we will surely see the beginning of the end of the two-party system.  "Something else" will come in its place, and rightly so.  I have no idea what that might look like, but I hope the trend continues into 2012.  Americans will have every right to change it up again in two years if they can't get what they seek.  That's because, "It's always morning in America."  I am not discouraged, disheartened and disgusted enough to think it can't be turned around with true leadership that can be rekindled based upon the Constitution.  I believe we will see a renewal beginning November 2nd.

Beware the doomsdayers.  It may well prove the case that the best is yet to come in America.  She still has a glorious destiny to inherit as the shining city on the hill.  We're not there yet.  You have to vote for it.  It won't just happen because you hope it will.

And remember, it's all preparation for the righteous reign of the King of kings and the Lord of Lords yet to come.  That's real hope and change everyone will come to believe in someday.

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