Aftermath, 2018 Election Edition

It otter go more quickly, don't you think?

The 2018 election is mostly behind us by now. In the past I usually haven’t waited a week to recap an election and inject my own mordant thoughts. In the past we almost always had firm results on Election Night. But this is the age of the mail-in ballot, when Election Day is too late to vote by mail, and Election Night is too soon to draw firm conclusions.

man waiting - 2018 election
First we vote. Then we wait and wait . . .

So locally we’re waiting for Utah County in particular, which our governor dubbed “an epicenter of dysfunction,” to finish counting ballots (not just the ones which come late but properly postmarked in the mail). The highest-profile race yet in doubt is in the Fourth Congressional District, where Republican incumbent Mia Love trails Democratic challenger Ben McAdams by a few thousand votes, with some Utah County (read: heavily Republican) votes yet to be counted. We may know that result today.

Nationally, we just got final results in a tight US Senate race in Arizona, where Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s seat has taken a bizarre and dispiriting turn to the nutty left.

We’re waiting for a November 27 runoff election in Mississippi, where neither major party’s US Senate candidate got 50 percent of the vote.

And we’re waiting on the outcome of another circus in south Florida, where gubernatorial and US Senate races apparently won by Republicans are subject to a perverse, familiar drama in – where else? – Broward County (with a sideshow in Palm Beach County), where election law is merely a set of inconvenient suggestions, to be ignored as long, as defiantly, and as comprehensively as possible. It’s anybody’s guess whether they’ll have time to “discover” enough boxes of mysteriously “misplaced” ballots to turn the results Democratic before the long arm of the law arrives.

David’s Handy Election Guide – 2018 General Election

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. For those of us in Utah, that means our mail-in ballots must be postmarked the day before, or earlier, if we don’t want to visit a polling place in person on Election Day. For further information about polling places and more, see vote.utah.gov.

Before we proceed, here’s a pro tip: Your ballot will not tell you that it is continued on the reverse side, but it might be. Mine is. Don’t forget to check.

Now let’s look at my ballot. Yours is probably different in some ways, but if you’re in Utah, a lot will be the same. I’ll summarize my thoughts on each race and issue. They certainly don’t have to be your thoughts too. Comments are a welcome place for your thoughts here, as always.

I’ll hazard some predictions too, at least for my own entertainment.

Ford v. Kavanaugh Last Thursday

Readers have been asking for my thoughts about Thursday’s all-day Senate Judiciary Committee hearing since Thursday morning, when the committee was still questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about her allegation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. I’ve put off everyone who’s asked, until I could finish these notes. (I was hoping for Saturday, but it turns out that I have a life.) Six days later, off we go. I know this is a lot.

First, my starting point: I awoke that morning willing to believe Dr. Ford and to conclude that President Trump should withdraw his Supreme Court nomination. I was also willing to believe Judge Kavanaugh and to declare that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate should just vote already.

The hearing ran through the afternoon. I watched or listened to about half of it live — some of it from my dentist’s chair, and the dental work was a lot less painful. By Friday evening I had watched the rest of it. Parts of it I watched a second time, or even a third or fourth.

This all would have been easier, if I were willing to believe that he is lying simply because he’s a man (and a conservative), and that she is telling the truth simply because she’s a woman. Some folks are wired that way, I guess, but I still see guilt and innocence as individual matters, not a tribal thing.

Judge Kavanaugh: Things We Know and Things We Don’t

Let’s start with this: I don’t know who, if anyone, is telling the truth about Brett Kavanaugh and who isn’t. Nor do you.

I am aware that in our hyper-tribalistic political climate, I have just invited accusations that I am disrespecting the victim — here still the alleged victim, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — or that I am a misogynist, or that I have insulted all women or at least all abuse victims by not instantly and automatically believing this one.

I choose to believe that American society has not disintegrated so far as to think we can determine truth by reading the labels we put on people. I choose to believe that more of us than make a fuss about it are still capable of rational thought, civil discussion, and patiently weighing all the evidence before drawing any conclusions.

I keep hoping that logic will help a little.

Why I (Still) Love the United States of America

I’ve been poking at these thoughts on why I love America for a while now. Once you see what they are, you’ll see why Constitution Day seems appropriate for posting them.

More broadly, this is either an especially good time or an unusually bad time for these reflections. We’re several weeks from a midterm election; those are never pretty. We’re two weeks into the Kneel for the National Anthem regular season. We’re in the throes of another nasty Supreme Court nomination battle. We’ve been watching — has it been forever yet? — the ongoing attempt to overthrow a duly elected President I heartily dislike by a  bureaucratic coup I dislike even more. We’re seeing (still? again?) just how ugly our politics can get, when we’re more committed to obtaining political power over each other than we are to truth, justice, freedom, and the rule of law.

And yet I love my country. Here are some of my reasons. (They don’t have to be yours.)

Mr. Justice Mike Lee? Not in 2018.

United States Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is said to be on the short list, but perhaps not the shorter list, to fill the US Supreme Court seat opened by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

Here we’ll consider why President Trump might nominate Utah’s junior senator — and why he probably won’t.

Senator Mike Lee
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah)

My Plan for Mitt Romney (An Open Letter)

Dear Mr. Romney:

I voted for you in the 2012 presidential election, and I still think you’d have made an uncommonly good president. I was pleased to hear that you’re running for the US Senate seat which Senator Orrin Hatch will vacate at the end of his term. I’ll be eager to see what you can accomplish.

I’m sure you want to make a difference for Utah itself, not just for the country. So I have an idea for you. First, I’ll tell you what it is. Then I’ll explain.

United Utah

I propose that you change your party affiliation from Republican to United Utah, then run for that party’s nomination for US Senate.

US Capitol
The Capitol in Washington, DC

If you do, I will join that party too, and many others will also, I expect.

You’ll have little difficulty getting their nomination. Right now their website lists no candidate for that office, but even if there is opposition, you have enough support in Utah to win. You could simply urge your supporters to join the United Utah Party, so they can vote for you in its primary. If they’re Republicans now, as I was from age 18 through August 2016, they probably already know that most of the Utah GOP leadership doesn’t want you or them. If they’re unaffiliated, as I am now, perhaps it’s because the feeling is mutual.

Once you’re on the general election ballot, party affiliation won’t matter much. You’ll win in a landslide, assuming you’ve campaigned effectively at all.

November 7: An Anniversary to Remember, Not Celebrate

Long Ago, on a November 7 Far Away . . .

Long ago in a distant land, a new social and political order arose. Many in the United States and around the world celebrated its appearance and subsequent development. It was such a modern thing. It was clear and promising evidence of human progress. It was cause for hope for the world at large.

That this new order arose in blood and horror scarcely merits mention; what new order has not risen that way? Granted, the violence probably seemed like more than a footnote to the millions whose lives were taken by bullets, bombs, and famine, and to the many millions more who loved and mourned them as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, neighbors, teachers, students, and friends. (I prolong the list advisedly.) But that wasn’t enough to disillusion Western intellectuals, among other idealists.

It Got Worse

Not many years passed before a great butcher replaced the brutal theoretician who led the Revolution in its early years. This butcher was ruthless and paranoid, and his reign gushed rivers of blood. In a sick parody of bureaucracy’s worst tendencies, he extinguished every leader, especially military leaders, whom he thought capable of becoming a rival. Every loyal subordinate with any ability was a potential traitor.

graveyard

Good Numbers, Bad Numbers

In politics, as in work and life generally, I’m a longtime fan of getting the right numbers, getting the numbers right, and understanding what they tell us and what they don’t. My recent essay, Water Bills, Fees, and Our Politics, applied that to local politics.

It also left me thinking that some illustrative, more general examples might be useful or at least fun. They’re not all from politics, let alone the current local election cycle.

Using Numbers Wrong

Let’s warm up with a softball.

The other day, I saw something like this floating around the Internet (I’m paraphrasing): “An orchestra consisting of 80 musicians can play a Beethoven symphony in 30 minutes. How many minutes would it take an orchestra of 120 musicians to play the same symphony?”

orchestra

If you don’t think about the situation, you might just make a calculation and say 20 minutes. Your math would be right, but your answer would be wrong. A moment’s consideration will reveal the obvious: the number of minutes will be approximately the same, no matter what size the orchestra. It’s not like asking how many more Toyota Tundras you can make if you have three identical, adequately staffed and supplied Tundra factories instead of two.

Water Bills, Fees, and Our Politics

One thing I’ve learned to watch for in candidates for local and national offices is how good they are at doing the math and connecting the dots. When I hear a candidate who knows what the numbers mean and what they don’t mean, and who understands and can explain causes and effects, I know I’ve found one who deserves my careful attention and likely my vote.

It’s not so much a question of native intelligence or college degrees, or of being articulate and clever. All these things can help – or hurt. It’s that I know she’ll do her homework on complex issues, if elected, because she’s already doing it. I know he’ll reason carefully in difficult matters, because he’s already doing it.

Water Bills, Water Bills Everywhere

In my small city, American Fork, Utah, water bills are a sore subject and have been for several election cycles. They’re mentioned in virtually every debate, and over the years we’ve seen the full range of responses, from the shallow and the knee-jerk to the well-reasoned and historically aware.

dripping faucet