Now What? (Electoral Afterthoughts)

I can’t say it was my favorite birthday ever, or even a particularly good one, but it was an interesting evening. And long.

If you prefer to skip my due diligence — my recap of the races on my ballot and my predictions for them — and scroll down to the heading “Now What?” below, I won’t be hurt. Actually, I won’t even know.

Presidential Race

As I write this, it’s unclear what the final electoral vote totals will be in the presidential race. They say a few races are still too close to call: New Hampshire (probably Clinton), Michigan (probably Trump), Minnesota (probably Clinton), and Arizona (probably Trump). The present totals without these states are 279 for Mr. Trump and 218 for Mrs. Clinton. A win is 270 or better, a majority. If the four states I named go as I indicated, he’ll finish with 306, and she with 232. It’s a resounding victory for Mr. Trump, even though the popular vote totals at the moment seem to have him up by only one-fifth of a percentage point. (See my notes on the Electoral College.)

David’s Handy Little Election Guide

Here’s my arguably handy, definitely idiosyncratic election guide for the 2016 general election. I considered posting it earlier for once, for the benefit (or at least bemusement) of early voters like myself, but Life Beyond the Blog (LBB) got in the way. Again.

I’ll tell you how I voted (or didn’t) in each race on my ballot, and I’ll tell you more or less briefly why. In some local or state matters, I’ll offer some detailed information along with my opinions. To the extent that the names and races on our respective ballots overlap, I hope my thoughts will at least be interesting. Or slightly and intermittently amusing. Or vexing. Or whatever works for you.

Why I’m No Longer a Republican

The “what” is in my title. Here’s the “why.”

It may help if I explain why I was a Republican in the first place — officially for one-third of a century, and unofficially for several years before that.

Reagan and Me

I conducted my first political poll before the 1976 Republican presidential primary in Idaho. I was in fifth grade. As went my poll of voters’ children, so went the actual vote in my adopted home state: former California Governor Ronald Reagan won by a huge margin over incumbent President Gerald Ford. Ford went on to win the nomination, then lost to Democrat and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Reagan was elected president in 1980 and reelected in 1984.

Even in 1976 I was aware that the GOP didn’t really want Ronald Reagan. He was too conservative for the party establishment. As we saw then and more strikingly in 1980, much of the rank and file felt differently.

Ronald Reagan
Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library.

Snowbird, American Fork Canyon, and Property Rights

It’s now common knowledge in northern Utah County: Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort wants to develop property it owns in American Fork Canyon, over the ridge from the existing resort. Setting aside the controversy over who wasn’t involved or informed as this plan was developed, it comes down to a question of property rights – as so many local issues do.

Mineral-Basin-American-Fork-Canyon

According to this recent Fox13 News story, Bob Bonar, President of Snowbird, asserts that Snowbird’s plan is within the rights of the property owner.

This is still the United States of America, after all, where we acknowledge and protect fundamental rights. Property rights are among these; we speak of them in the same breath with life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedoms of speech and religion.

On its face, it might seem simple. Snowbird owns the land, and property rights belong to the owner. That should settle the question, right? Can’t we just dismiss any opposition as grouchy politics, or as acronymic, nuisance sentimentality in a league with NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), NOTE (Not Over There Either), BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), or NOPE (Not On Planet Earth)?

Actually, it’s not that simple. (You saw this coming, right?) Land ownership doesn’t settle the question legally or philosophically. Let’s talk about why.

Why I’m Walking Tomorrow

[Slightly revised after first posting. I do that.]

A couple of weeks ago, student-leaders at American Fork High School latched onto the idea of honoring Sergeant Cory Wride on the first anniversary of his death. That anniversary is tomorrow, Friday, January 30, 2015.

They immediately began to think big.

I helped last year with some press releases and a smaller, more permanent piece of writing, when American Fork City undertook to honor and remember Sgt. Wride. So I suppose it made sense to invite me to help with this too. Soon I was meeting with student-leaders, other adult volunteers, and City officials whose assistance is essential, even though the Wride Memorial Walk is not a City-sponsored event.

Before we were done — and we’re not quite done — there was a web site (wridewalk.com); a six-minute, professionally-produced video about the people and the event; two hash tags (#wridewalk and, for tomorrow night, #irangthebell); a Facebook event; a videotaped statement of support from the President Pro Tem of the United States Senate (with more endorsements still on the way, we think); numerous inquiries and expressions of support from other schools around the state; and growing buzz about the event on social media. I don’t deserve credit for most of that; these students and the other adults who are helping are amazing. And this isn’t about credit anyway.

What you and I are doing here — and thanks for being here, as in reading — is noting the reasons why I’m attending the Wride Memorial Walk tomorrow evening, and the reasons why I should attend. I leave it to you to ponder the reasons why you should join the Walk, whatever they may be.

Guest Post: Bruce Call – Let’s Start Acting Like Employers

Bruce Call

[Bruce Call is a former mayor of Pleasant Grove, Utah. I saw this on Facebook just before Election Day and thought it insightful and well written — and applicable to a lot more cities than just Pleasant Grove. He kindly gave permission to reprint it here. As you will see, he moves past the immediate issue very quickly, and on to a crucial lesson for all citizens.]

To my friends who haven’t yet decided on the public safety bond issue:

It won’t come as any surprise that I am 100% in favor of the bond. It was the right thing to do last year, and it’s still the right thing to do. But with all the information, misinformation, and disinformation out there, let me give you a perspective that most of us fail to consider.

I often hear citizens say, “The police and fire employees need to remember that they work for us.” I agree — and I know they do remember that every single day.

But I would like all of us to turn that concept around and understand what it means. The citizens need to remember that they employ the public safety personnel. You are their employer. And having employees comes with obligations.

One of the major obligations of any employer is providing a safe workplace. We do not do that. It is our obligation to provide a safe workplace, and we simply do not do that. If a private company delivered the working conditions that you do for your public safety employees, the world would hold that employer’s feet to the fire in a loud and public way until changes were made.

Imagine an employer who not only won’t fix deplorable conditions, but scoffs at his employees and calls them selfish.

Imagine an employer who doesn’t even know the extent of the miserable conditions of the work environment he supplies, because he’s never even visited.

Imagine an employer who can’t be bothered to talk to his employees or get to know them on any level before deciding that they’re just fine with what they already have.

We want the police and fire to remember who they work for. Okay. So if we want to be thought of as employers, let’s start acting like employers. Responsible employers.

It’s time to step it up and do what’s right by the people who work for us.

Please Welcome Two Guest Columnists (And Soon a Third)

I rolled FreedomHabit.com live five weeks ago, with the thought that, somewhere down the road, I might want to think about guest columnists. Then, in space of about four days, three of them fell into my lap. That is, I saw three pieces of writing which were related to the (now-recent) election, yes, but with broader, more lasting value, and I asked permission to publish or republish them. I’m three for three, permission-wise.

I posted two of the pieces on Election Day, since they had some bearing on the election and permission came that quickly, but I didn’t promote them. I didn’t want to distract from what I was promoting that day, and I didn’t want the writing lost in the whirlwind or dismissed as relevant only to that day’s election.

Heidi Rodeback of American Fork (formerly MFCC, My Favorite City Councilor, now MFGC, My Favorite Guest Columnist — apologies to other present and future guest columnists, but I trust you understand) writes in favor of local government funding for arts programs. She makes the argument better and more clearly than we usually do.

Joylin Lincoln of Saratoga Springs writes of education, and why she entered the state school board race. It’s less about politics than you’d think. After you’ve read and reread her column, I suspect you’ll begin to understand why I called her “utterly charming” as a candidate.

I hope both will favor us with their thoughts here again. And I’ll publish a gem from my third guest columnist very soon.

Thanks for reading.

Notes on Election Results (and Some Housekeeping)

Let’s review some election results and consider what we’ve learned and what we might foresee.

United States Senate

Republicans seized a majority in the US Senate, picking up at least seven seats. However, they don’t have a veto-proof or even filibuster-proof majority. So expect gridlock to shift around a little, and the President to have to trade his golf clubs for a pen now and then to veto some bills. But at least a lot more bills — substantive ones, I mean — passed by the House might get to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That will be a nice change.

It appears that Senator Orrin Hatch will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate. We’ll find out if that’s worth something (as I thought when I campaigned for him) or just a nice-sounding theory (as the opposition thought).

US House of Representatives

As I write this, we’re still waiting for some returns from the Western US, especially California, but it appears that the Republicans will increase their House majority by at least ten seats. They still won’t have a veto-proof majority, but with their different rules they don’t have filibusters, so 60% is not a meaningful threshold.

My Top Three Races Tomorrow

My top three races are also my top three reasons for hoping my neighbors will get out and vote tomorrow. Generally, the higher the turnout, the less radical the outcome — and I assert that two of these three races pit radicals against more sensible citizens.

(By the way, if you’re looking for my “handy election guide,” I’ve updated the early version a few times since I posted it, and it now has links to later discussion of some issues and races. So there’s no point in reposting it today as a “final edition” or whatever.)

Utah County Commission Seat A: Write-In Bill Freeze vs. Republican Greg Graves

Bill Freeze, whom I heartily recommend, is running very nearly a textbook write-in campaign against Republican Greg Graves — which is what it usually takes to win as a write-in candidate, even if the opportunity is ideal. I don’t expect Freeze to win in a landslide, because he is a write-in candidate, but I’m expecting him to win. That makes this a very unusual — and to me very interesting — race.

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.