I Almost Forgot the Proposed Amendments

For Utah voters, there are three proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot this election. I realized this a few days ago, having already published my quirky, opinionated voter’s guide.

Here is a brief account of all three, with some of my thoughts appended. For more information, see the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet for this election and this piece from the Deseret News.

Constitutional Amendment A: Qualifications of State Tax Commission Members

The Utah State Tax Commission is essentially a panel of administrative judges who hear appeals on tax matters. They also issue administrative rules related to Utah tax laws. Currently, the Utah Constitution provides that no more than two of the four commissioners may be of the same political party. Amendment A proposes to remove that limitation and to authorize the Utah Legislature to determine other qualifications for the positions.

One More School Boards Debate: This Time with My Candidates

Last night’s debate at Mt. Mahogany Elementary in Pleasant Grove was moderated by American Fork High School Students — who performed respectably — and attended by about 40 people who weren’t candidates and who behaved respectfully.

That is, the first half, with the the Alpine School Board candidates who will appear on my ballot, John Burton and Chris Jolley, was attended by 40 people. Half of those left before the second half of the debate, which featured state school board candidates.

First, briefly, the state candidates . . .

About PARC and the Larger Issue It Exposes

The PARC Proposal

My ballot in American Fork on Election Day — or whenever I get around to early voting — will include this proposition:

American Fork PARC referendum

They’re calling it the PARC tax, for Parks, Arts, Recreation, and Culture. If it passes, a committee of seven American Fork residents (whom the mayor will choose from among those who apply) will consider applications for funding and make recommendations to the city council.

This Candidate Respects the Voters

This post is a happy one, about a candidate who respects the voters. We’ll get to the details shortly, but first I have to tell you why this is noteworthy.

Long-time readers already know I’m often critical of candidates who show up for a race with little more than a head full of principles and a passionate conviction that their mission is to help fix everything that’s wrong with government — which to them is pretty much everything. They are convinced that their principles can beat up my principles and yours, and will be sufficient to see them through their revolution to a successful and glorious conclusion.

Too often, they haven’t done their homework. They haven’t worked in or with the government they seek to lead, or even watched it closely for an extended period. They don’t know how it really works — but they’re quite certain they know how it should work. They’ve read the US Constitution (which I love and to which I, too, am fiercely loyal), but they can’t read a budget or a craft a competent statute. When they file as candidates, some of them still have never attended a public meeting of the body to which they and their principles seek election.

Tonight’s School Boards Debate at Lone Peak High School

The Setting

About 15 minutes into tonight’s meet-the-candidates event — or was it a debate? — at Lone Peak High School, there were about 70 citizens in attendance. That’s a good turnout. About ten of them were children of various ages, including my very cooperative nine year old; this is also good.

Another dozen or so trickled in later. I didn’t see anyone leave early.

The debate was moderated by State Representative Mike Kennedy, who represents Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, give or take. I wonder if he was nervous, sitting next to State Auditor John Dougall, who is very highly regarded locally as a moderator.

I won’t be attempting a play-by-play report or analysis of the event, but I will share some impressions and document my evolving evaluation of some candidates.

David’s Handy Little Election Guide (Updated)

[Note: I have updated this post since writing it, mostly with links to later posts about races and issues considered here — and three proposed state constitutional amendments I didn’t realize were on the ballot.]

In keeping with my long-established (but not perfectly consistent) tradition at LocalCommentary.com, my little election guide considers the races that are on my own ballot, and few if any others. So the interest is localized. As the man said, all politics is local.

This post includes notes, numerous links (mostly to candidate web sites), and my own commentary.

Early Voting

Early voting starts tomorrow in Utah. Fellow American Forkers may vote early at the American Fork library. Utah.gov lists early voting days, hours, and additional locations.

My Votes

Usually, I analyze candidates and issues, do some Q&A with candidates, and toss my opinions around for weeks or months. I generally report on meet-the-candidates events in considerable detail. Then, a day or two before Election Day, I list my votes, if I list them at all.

It’s an unusual year for me. I haven’t heard of a meet-the-candidates event in American Fork, which disappoints me. And I’m telling you my votes at the beginning of my (foreshortened) writing cycle this year. I’ll add more detailed treatment of some candidates and issues as time permits, between now and Election Day.

The Importance of Not Being Unified

Author's Note

Political Differences

Political differences are not sins or any other species of moral failure. Political differences are not treason. We don’t fight political differences with fire, literal or otherwise, even if they run to philosophy and first principles. We don’t address them by calling large groups of people racists, socialists, morons, or extremists. Political differences are highly heat-resistant, but only moderately light-resistant, so we address them with persuasion and reason — and with patience. To be sure, we learn very quickly to expect far less than complete success in doing so.

That’s probably okay. We need political differences. We respect them. We learn from them. We embrace them. But these days, I’m afraid, it would be an improvement if we would all just tolerate them with civility and equanimity.

Somehow, all that relates to the following.

Marilynne Robinson: Capitalism or Freedom?

From Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books (New York: Picador –Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)

Having just quoted Walt Whitman, she writes:

We now live in a political environment characterized by wolfishness and filled with blather. We have the passive pious, who feel they have proved their moral refinement in declaring the whole enterprise bankrupt, and we have the active pious, who agree with them, with the difference that they see some hope in a hastily arranged liquidation of cultural assets. (x)

The key words at the end are “the secondary consequences of the progress of freedom” (my italics) . . .

I know that there are numberless acts of generosity, moral as well as material, carried out among [America’s] people every hour of the day. But the language of public life has lost the character of generosity, and the largeness of spirit that has created and supported the best of our institutions and brought reform to the worst of them has been erased out of historical memory. On both sides the sole motive force in our past is now said to have been capitalism. On both sides capitalism is understood as grasping materialism that has somehow or other yielded the comforts and liberties of modern life. . . .

What if good institutions were in fact the product of good intentions? What if the cynicism that is supposed to be rigor and the acquisitiveness that is supposed to be realism are making us forget the origins of the greatness we lay claim to — power and wealth as secondary consequences of the progress of freedom? (xiv-xv, italics added)

(The link above is to the book at my Amazon store, where purchases support this site. However, libraries and fine local bookstores are also wonderful things. The chief thing is to read.)

Read Mike Lee’s Speech

In August 2009 I first heard Mike Lee speak; this was before he declared himself a candidate for US Senate. My blog post about the experience was entitled, “I Think I Found a Great Candidate.” I’ve thought this before, and I’ve probably said this before, but . . .

I told you so.

At the same time, I was in the middle of publishing three lengthy essays on freedom in America. The second was entitled, “I Am a Tocqueville Conservative.” (I’ve lately republished those posts here at Freedom Habit.com.) The connections here are not obvious, but if you read my Tocqueville piece, then read this recent speech by Mike Lee, you’ll see why I liked him so much in the beginning, to say nothing of now. And you might think he is a Tocqueville conservative.

His speech is important. Even if you don’t read anything of mine, read his speech. Please.

(This speech got a bit of attention in The Washington Post. See also Holly Richardson’s recent piece on “Senator Mike Lee’s Impressive Turnaround.”)