Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sticking to What I Know

So this blog hasn't really been what I imagined. As I've ventured into the political world, I haven't learned as much about the issues as I thought I would. Instead, I've been learning about life. Life lessons belong on my original blog, not here, so if you want to know how my foray into politics is going, stay tuned to Cartoon Brick Wall. At some point, my jumbled thoughts may straighten out enough to appear there in rough form.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Informed Voting

Last night, I spent some time on the phone, polling. I left once I could no longer feel my left ear.

Some of the questions asked what people knew or had heard about Curt Bramble and RaDene Hatfield. I was not surprised that none of the people I talked to had heard of RaDene, though I find that unfortunate. Only 2 people I polled had heard of Bramble--one only knew the name and the other knew about my pizza delivery experience (I was unseccessful in restarining a snicker). Most of the people I talked to had never heard of any of the local candidates I asked about but all said that they will very likely vote in the elections.

Now some of these people may have just moved to Utah County, so I can excuse them for being uninformed. To those who have been around for a year or more and are uninformed: I see that you and I are standing together in a crowded boat. How many people vote without knowing the candidates? How many people participate in local elections because they are concerned with one office and then vote blindly for all the other offices? I raise my hand and hang my head in shame, but I'm sure I'm in good company.

Everyone I talked to happened to be declared republicans and, when asked, said they would probably vote a straight repulican party ticket but they would vote for a democrat if he or she shared their views on important issues. Fair enough, right?--I mean, political parties have platforms that their members stick to more or less, so voting for a party is a good rule of thumb when you don't know the candidates. Um, false. When an issue is really important to a lot of people, it becomes controversial because everyone has a different opinion and lots of people are impassioned. The more controversial an issue is, the more likely candidates are to stray from party platforms because platforms tend to be extreme while reasonale, free-thinking individuals tend to be moderate and cooperative. (I realize there are exceptions, so please don't list them for me.)

Once again, I'm saying that party is--or should be--irrelevent in voting. Political parties give people the option to stop thinking for themselves. What a terrible option!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


"Cicero lost" commented on my last post: "Engineers and scientists know that all problems are solved by performing trade offs like cost/performance etc. You take a shot at a solution, learn from the mistakes you make and constantly improve. Its why we have come so far in technology. A scientist could work a decade on a problem only to prove himself wrong in the end. The key components to progress are realizing there are trade offs to be made and having the integrity to admit being wrong.

"Does RaDene have those qualities?"

Yes, she does. I think that is part of what she is trying to say when talks about accountability as one of her guiding principles.

When I called RaDene to tell her I had decided to work on her campaign, she told me, "I may not be the best person for the job, but I think I'm better than Bramble." I agree, and I am impressed with her humility in admitting that there are other people out there who could do better than she could--but those people aren't running. She knows she won't be perfect--none of us is--but her sincere desire to serve will motivate her to look for the best solutions, those that serve the greater good, and her humility will allow her to admit when she is wrong and remedy what she can. That is how we progress in politics, in science, in life.

I cannot stress enough that voters should do their homework and get to know the candidates. A friend emailed me (and several of her other friends) today saying, "I met RaDene at the Provo farmer's market on Saturday. She is awesome, totally won my vote, and I think you all should vote for her, too. Don't be afraid of the Democrat label!" RaDene is making herself available to the voters, and when you talk to her you will quickly feel her sincerety and integrity and many of your doubts and reservations will disappear.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Party Schmarty

Before I start talking about political parties, I want my readers to understand my biases on the subject. I grew up outside of Boston, MA, and, by the time I was 16, I had almost choked to death on the extreme liberalism that my peers and teachers were shoving down my throat. Having lived in Provo, UT for the past 6 years, I often feel that familiar suffocation but from the conservatives. The liberals call me conservative, and the conservatives call me liberal--I figure that puts me safely in between. I hate it when liberals say conservatives are close-minded, and I hate it when I hear republicans call Obama an "evil socialist." Since turning 18, I have voted in 2 elections: the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial election and the 2004 Presidential election. I voted for a different political party in each. I am a registered Independent, and I haven't yet researched enough to decide who to vote for in the Presidential election this year.

Now, does a Utah democrat have a chance at winning outside of Salt Lake? I'm not sure, but I think they should. My sister who lives in Orem says that when she doesn't know the candidates for the seemingly insignificant local offices, she just votes for the democrat in the hope that we could actually have a bipartisan government that will open-mindedly explore both sides of every issue the way the founders of our country envisioned. There are worse ways to make that decision--after voting for governor in 2002, I looked at the other local offices on the ballot, shrugged, and checked the little boxes next to the names that sounded coolest.

Yesterday evening, I went to an event for Utah County democrats. (I delivered the pizza.) Each of the candidates from the districts in Utah County introduced themselves and said a few words about their campaign. Most eye-opening information: of the 14,000 registered voters in Orem (or maybe just in this man's district?), 7,000 are declared unaffiliated. That tells me a democrat should have a chance. Most comforting comment: "If just a few of us [i.e. democrats] made it into office, we could work with the moderate republicans and make some important changes." He didn't say this to the public to make himself look good; he said it to a bunch of democrats who will likely vote for him whether or not he wants to cooperate with the republicans. So have no fear, Utah republicans, the Utah County democrats are not trying to bring down conservatism and turn Provo into San Francisco! What they want is a more moderate government. They want to work with the republicans to find cooperative solutions that represent both sides fairly.

RaDene is one of these sensible democrats. On a personal level, she is a democrat married to a republican. (Her husband, Harland, was with her at the democratic shindig.) From talking with her, I can tell she genuinely cares about representing her constituents and will lay aside her party's agenda to come to the best solutions possible. I hope the voters in District 16 are as sensible as she is. If you want to know more about her and get a sense of her sincere concern for the community's welfare, she is making herself uncommonly accessible. That's right, she's actually handing out her home and cell phone numbers--but read her website before you call.

What is it that McCain and other republicans in the national campaign have been saying? Oh yeah, it's time to "Take off our republican hats and put on our American hats." Take off your party hat--whichever it is--and put on your Utah hat.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Statement of Purpose

I deliver pizza. I know nothing about politics. But I'm learning.

If you're reading this, you probably know about Pizzagate (and, if you don't, what in the world are you doing at this site?). After the insanity died down, RaDene Hatfield, Senator Bramble's opponent in the upcoming election, asked me to work on her campaign. I laughed. I know nothing about politics. In fact, I avoid the topic because I find it confusing and generally get the impression that no one actually knows what they are talking about. But after my best friend said, "It's been a long time since you did something ridiculous," I remembered how much I love to do the unexpected and thought, "Why not? I'm sure I'll learn something, and learning is always good."

So why should you vote for RaDene Hatfield? Because she is a nice person and Curt Bramble is not. Oh, that's not a good enough reason for you? Well, come along with me while I explore the idea. Let's discuss.