OPINION – With the election just around the corner, I was talking to a friend the other day about voting, the candidates, the issues.
Needless to say, this being Utah, all things are not equal.
Whether you are on the winning or losing side of that equation doesn’t matter. Without dialog, opposition, a choice, elections are a farce.
Government is, after all, supposed to represent all people, not just the majority. But, as we have seen here, that simply does not happen when one party holds such a commanding advantage.
There a lot of reasons why a person joins a political party and not all are ideological. Some are rooted in culture, some are simply familial: Mommy and Daddy were Republicans, so the offspring follow suit without truly understanding why.
This whole voting thing is mysterious, anyway.
I’ve heard people say they voted for a candidate because of their foreign policy or domestic policy. I’ve heard people say they voted for a candidate because he “looked like a president.” Considering some presidents we’ve had, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
I do know that as a voter, I’ve got a fairly schizophrenic record.
I mean, I’ve voted for a roster of candidates that range from George McGovern to, believe it or not, Ronald Reagan, and not only once, but twice in Reagan’s case.
I have never been a political moderate. My leanings have always been hard left. Most of those who consider themselves very liberal or very conservative rarely cross party lines. Most of the time they will show their displeasure with a candidate from their party by either voting for a third-party candidate or abstaining altogether.
I crossed party lines. A couple of times.
I wasn’t a huge Reagan fan. In fact, I lived in California when he was governor and had no warm feel for him at all.
But, I had a bad case of the “guilts.”
I had seen my social and political heroes cut down in the ‘60s and worked feverishly for George McGovern in 1972. I saw the scandal of the Richard Nixon era and, by the time 1976 rolled around, was so disgusted I just checked out.
I was disappointed in Jimmy Carter who for all of his interest in human rights was still a vicious politician. I thought of it as pure hypocrisy, so I voted, holding my nose, for Reagan.
Still, I didn’t see him in the same light as others did.
His trickle-down economics thing was ludicrous to me and his “right is might” attitude was rather crude. But at least you knew where you stood with Reagan and I figured he was a good placeholder until somebody more fitting came around. I voted for him a second time when the Democratic Party ran Walter Mondale against him. Mondale had one bright, shiny moment during the first debate, then the wheels fell off.
History has been overly kind to the 40th President of the United States and the mainstream Republican Party – or, what is left of it – has deified him although, in actuality, his ideology was closer to the moderates of today’s Democratic Party than today’s GOP.
He doubled the size of Medicaid and led Medicare reform; offered amnesty and fast-track citizenship for more than 3 million undocumented aliens; successfully pushed for an automatic weapons ban and supported the Brady Bill, which placed restrictions on gun owners; grew government to create the much-needed Department of Veteran’s Affairs; fought, although unsuccessfully, for the elimination of tax loopholes for millionaires; and, although his environmental record is splotchy, he did negotiate the Montreal Protocol, which is used today to fight polluters.
Reagan is often credited with ending the Cold War. His “tear down this wall” speech resonates. But the reality is he happened to be sitting in the chair when the former Soviet Union started to implode, not from military or political muscle, but because it went broke. The United States engaged the U.S.S.R. in a war of technological investment when President John Kennedy said we were going to the moon. The Soviets fought long and hard to keep up with the technological advances of the free world – from the race to the moon to development of strategic weaponry, but lost the Cold War because of monetary, not ideological, failure. When the U.S.S.R. was finally dissolved in 1991, Reagan was given much undeserved credit.
I also crossed party lines and voted for Jon Huntsman Jr. for governor – one of the finest men I have ever known in politics – and Orrin Hatch since coming to Utah, because, well I was not thrilled with his opponents.
Although Huntsman and Hatch carry the banner of conservative politics, their deeds don’t necessarily match up with their words as they both were able to reach across party lines when serious issues were on the line.
It’s not going to happen.
I have developed a tremendous disdain for local politics and politicians who ride the Republican Party’s crested wave and their own incumbency into win after win.
The thing I find amazing, however, is that if you engage people about politics here, they are all disgruntled, from the local to federal level. Yet they continue to put the same people into office year after year. I don’t completely understand that because I subscribe to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So, I’ll be bold and go out on the limb with some election predictions.
Fewer than 40 percent will turn out for the election. Midterms just aren’t as sexy as presidential elections.
Every incumbent will win in Southern Utah. The only race of substance in the entire state is the race for the U.S. House seat from Utah’s 4th Congressional District between Mia Love and Doug Owens and Love currently leads the polling by about 9 percentage points.
We all lose, not because of another predictable Republican sweep, but because whether at the local, state, or federal level, the people need more than one voice.
- All St. George News reports related to Election 2014
- Ronald Reagan’s Legacy Continues to Endure and Endear
- Perspectives: One explanation the GOP isn’t discussing, the Ron Paul factor
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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