On Friday evening, Jan. 27, I had a truly unique experience. I attended the Emery County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner with about 152 others which included the candidates for several state and federal offices.
Now, it was not the event itself that was unique; it is, after all, an annual Republican Party event renowned statewide for its rib-eye steak main course; nor was it the fact that I attended the event, after all I'm an active Republican; nor was it even that there were politicians in attendance, it is, after all, an election year. What was unique was the attitude of those vying for the various elected positions. There was no sign amongst them of the vitriolic, political cannibalism that has been the earmark of the Republican Presidential nomination race and debates. It was refreshing to see instead each candidate standing to introduce themselves, present their views of the issues facing the county, the state, and the nation and their outlines for how they will address those issues if elected. There was no name calling, no accusations of wrong-doing nor muck raking... just the intelligent discussions of the issues that, we the electorate, deserve.
It was also impressive to me, for example, at one point during the dinner to see Sean Reyes, candidate for Attorney General, working his way, table by table, through the maze of tables with two pitchers of water in hand filling the glasses of attendees or, at the end of the evening, when we were asked to help cleanup, to look to my left to find Gary Herbert, the Governor of Utah, clearing tables, folding them up, and stacking chairs in typical Utahn fashion. At the end of the evening, as I surveyed the room observing the interaction between the candidates and the other attendees, the thought came to me that this is the way the founding fathers intended our political system to function.
I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Gov. Herbert, Mr. Reyes, and the other candidates in attendance for the respectful manner they interacted with the Republican voters of Emery County and to suggest to my fellow voters, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, that they demand that same respect from candidates for every office at every level and also a demand that they, the candidates, raise the level of political discourse to one which demonstrates their respect for our intelligence by sticking to the issues and avoiding the negative campaigning that demeans our intelligence.
We have, for too long, allowed political discourse to degenerate into a name calling fest with less and less discussion of the actual issues and then are surprised when, after electing the winner of the mud fest, the issues are not resolved and carry over to the next election cycle; someone once said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." It is time for us to stop the insanity and to demonstrate that we will no longer tolerate this behavior and will discount any candidate that engages in negative politicking. In the coming months there will be more dinners and town hall meetings with the candidates, we need to attend them educated on the issues and prepared to ask the questions that keep the focus on those issues.