Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why isn't Matheson at the DNC Convention?

Many may expect this to be a shot at Matheson for not attending the Democratic Convention . . . well you'd actually be wrong. Matheson is smart and he's making his decision in a smart way. Wouldn't it be nice if more politicians (i.e. Republicans) acted smart!

Before making a decision on any event you are invited to as a candidate you need to do a cost/benefit analysis. What are the drawbacks, what do you gain, what will the public think?

For Matheson this is pretty easy:

  • Loyal Democrats like you more (but they will be voting with you most likely anyway)
  • You may be able to hold off a more Liberal Democrat from challenging you next cycle (would be foolish for the Democrats to get rid of him)
  • You get to hob-nob with Big Money and others who may help your campaign (Yet you can do the same thing in more private situations without as much political risk)
  • You get to go to a fun event
  • You don't look very Moderate in an area you need to look moderate in to win
  • You take a week out of other campaign activities
  • You end up in the Clinton/Obama problems
  • Republicans will attack you as just another Liberal Democrat
  • You do miss family obligations (Which s a sacrifice an Elected Official has to make often)
So if it was you running for election what would you do?

Some may say Matheson is unbeatable, but as soon as he starts thinking or acting unbeatable he becomes beatable!

And all of this coming from a guy who doesn't support Matheson in any way.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Utah Lake Commission

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an Open House for the Utah Lake Commission.

I left disappointed. I looked for detailed information on what the Commission had worked on and what opportunities there were to better the lake. Unfortunately there was really no presentation and the details they provided were very bland and lacked specificity. Yet they asked the 15 or so people there to support or not support the items they were planning (how do you make a decision with no details?).

I had hoped that the meetings would facilitate discussion and talk about specifics. I appreciated what Provo City did when they held meeting to discuss the future of Downtown Provo. Provo took the opportunity to discuss various specifics with those who attended. I believe that's why so many people attended the meetings.

We need to make sure the Utah Lake Commission gets information from the public on specifics. They need to take specifics not just broad generalities from the public. That is how they will be able to create a plan the public will truly want and need.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An LDS Perspective on Civic Involvement

“Our obligations to our country never cease except but with our lives” wrote John Adams to Benjamin Rush on April 18, 1808.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ (LDS) First Presidency stated in June 1979 “We encourage all members, as citizens of the nation, to be actively involved in the political process, and to support those measures which will strengthen the community, state, and nation—morally, economically, and culturally.”

The Doctrine and Covenants (LDS Canonized Scripture) states in Section 134 “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside” (verse 5) Now think about what it means to Sustain in LDS religious perspective. President Hinckley said “The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected” (Ensign May 1995 pg 51) Now don’t you think that’s the way God intended us to sustain our government according to section 134?

So what have we been instructed to do to Sustain our Country?

First we read in Doctrine & Covenants Section 58 “Wherefore Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently.” (Verse 10) We are taught to be active, not passive participants. We are to seek people to support in public office and especially vote. Hyrum Smith said “ . . . to Vote for Wicked Men, it would be sin.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 323.) I also believe it is relevant to listen to the counsel of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Samuel Adams, when he said “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” (Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781)

We also have been taught by our prophets and apostles to be engaged as citizens. To not only be good in church but to be good to our community. We are to strengthen our community. Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “With this great blessing (The Gospel) comes an obligation to be a part of the communities in which we live. Our influence should be felt to safeguard the moral standards in the villages, in the towns, and in the cities where our homes are located in all parts of the world. I challenge you to become involved in lifting the moral standards of the communities where your homes are.” (Ensign, May 1977, p. 61.) We cannot as Latter Day Saints leave it up to others to make sure our community and our Nation are on the right track. We have to be involved. We need to realize that our future generations need us. If the Priesthood men and relief society women do not stand up then who will? Will it be those with motives that are not the same as our own? Will it be those who instead of pushing for more morality in government are fighting to ban God from our Nation’s institutions?

We must also teach patriotism and love for our Country? Dr. Kenneth McFarland a noted speaker describes a young man coming home from Vietnam and asking his parents if they loved America. They responded with how dearly they loved this land and the benefits it has brought their family of freedom and happiness. The son then asked “Why didn’t you tell me that when I was growing up?” he said. “I never heard you once say that you loved America. You never taught me to love it. I can’t tell you what an ungrateful pup I have been. I had to go to Vietnam to find out what the United States of America is all about. I would gladly lay down my life for it. I would have given anything to know how you felt about it when I was growing up.” Elder Vaughan J. Featherstone while serving in the Presiding Bishopric wrote in the Ensign “I think it is time we should all awaken. Our concern isn’t about the flames of freedom which burn so brightly in our generation; the concern is that in the upcoming generation the fire has never been kindled. Our youth have never known anything but criticism of the United States of America. We need some faithful, free-loving patriots who will issue forth a clear, loud trumpet call. Remember Paul’s counsel: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare … to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8.) Freedom ought to ring in the heart of every Latter-day Saint regardless of his country.” (But Watchmen, What of the Night, Ensign Nov 1975)

The first Presidency has even put out an official Letter stating the need to teach the Constitution to our children in America.(First Presidency letter of 15 Jan. 1987) For true citizenship, true patriotism isn’t just about only saying how you love your freedom or your country, though we need to say it. It’s about getting out there and showing it. Flying the flag on National/State Holidays. Talking about as a family what these days off mean, we can take some time before running off to the BBQs or the lake to actually remember why the day is a holiday. We can use these days as teaching tools for our children and ourselves about the sacrifices our predecessors had to give. “Of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.” (Rush Limbaugh, Our Lives Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor) If they can put up with so much, can we not put up with such small inconveniences? Adlai Stevenson said “Patriotism puts Country ahead of self, (it’s a) steady dedication of a lifetime.” (Adlai Stevenson, speech given in New York City, 27 August 1952, quoted in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1955, p. 986.)

Let us remember to be good citizens through involvement in our community. We may think the world is doomed as prophecies have stated, but that does not absolve us of our duties to fight for what’s right. The Church has encouraged and invited its members to get involved in many civic causes. From opposing pornography, liquor sales and gambling to the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment or the MX Missiles. Our Church has stood strong on involvement in Civic Life. Even as recently as June 20th the First Presidency asked the Saints in California to get involved through support for the California Constitutional Amendment to protect the sanctity of Marriage. They used these words “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time . . . Our best efforts are required. . . “ (First Presidency Letter, June 20, 2008, as found in the Deseret News) Let us take those words to heart for our local community and national community as well.

I know how important these duties are. I challenge you to pay attention a little more. Read the news papers, follow candidates, don’t just complain get out there and do something about your concerns. Remember to vote November 4th. Make it a habit, not just a rarity. Our nation was founded in such a way as to allow Freedom here. Let us keep our freedoms by going out and getting involved.

I end in the words of Elder Featherstone, “The priesthood of God should be an example of patriotism and loyalty to our country.” (But Watchmen, What of the Night, Ensign Nov 1975)

An Analysis of the Utah Primary Election 2008

One month ago Utah experienced several monumental upsets in Primary Elections. In this election a 6 term Congressman, 3 County Commissioners, 2 Legislators, and a State Treasurer candidate supported by pretty much every heavy weight in the Republican Party lost. The question has to be why? Many are trying to claim reasons for each individual race. This is true to a certain extent, but they miss the greater overarching facts in the results. There are too many similarities between the loses for us to not see at least some reasons that are universal.

Some of similarities are:
  • The Republican voters were not interested in getting out and voting.
  • Those who did come out had a clear anti-establishment even anti-party bent (only slightly larger numerically then 2 years ago).
  • In most races the public went against the votes of the Delegates (3rd Congressional District being the exception).
Why is this happening? My research has pointed me to the following points:
  • Republicans are not excited about John McCain, and this frustration with the nominee is pushing Republicans away.
  • Voters overall are tired of the way our country is being led.
  • Voters want something done to fix the Economy/Gas Prices and they feel nothing is being done.
  • Because of this feeling of nothing being done they are starting to lash out at the Establishment (i.e. Republican Incumbents).
What other factors are at play?
  • We see in-fighting within the Party that damages the Party.
  • Democrats are extremely excited (especially in Utah) that Barrack Obama is their National Nominee.
  • Democrats are raising enough money to be at play in the elections.
  • Democrats have also recruited several well known and well respected candidates (Including in Utah County).
What does this mean in Utah?
  • First the Republican Party is in trouble, their supporters are mad.
  • Those who are getting out and voting want to change the system.
  • They don’t want to support those who have been in charge because they feel like those in charge haven’t done enough.
  • This means several races are now open to the Democratic Party that weren’t previously.
  • We could see low Republican turnout meet high excited Democratic turnout equaling incumbent loses.
  • If John McCain picks Mitt Romney as his running mate Republicans in Utah will get out and be excited.
  • Several local issues can create problems. (I use for example the democratic candidate whose FiancĂ© was indicted for running a Prostitution ring)
What should we do?
  • We need to (as a Party if possible) advocate our goals, not just define our principles.
  • We need to understand the dynamics and not take for granted the opportunities for losses.
  • We must figure out how to bring our Party back together.
  • The Party needs to right itself.