2012/10/25 Th – The Elect

I filled out my early, mail-in ballot some hours ago.  It came in the mail sometime around the start of October.  I’d put it off because of wanting to study the races a little more, but in the end, I realised I’d already made my decisions on the ones that I thought mattered.

I live in Utah, East Mill Creek (east of Mill Creek proper).  (It seems there are several other communities sharing some form of this name in the country.)

Our ballots are made of light card-stock paper and consist of bubbles to be filled in with an ink pen (I assume they’re read by a computer; we use computers at our polls, although they print out paper ballots like receipts in turn).

Our first option was an optional “straight-party” selection which I forewent (Constitution, Libertarian, Democratic, Republican, Justice [which I don’t know at all], and Green).  The philosophy exists that the candidates themselves are often not the important variables in the election; we’re vote for parties anyway.  Still, I had one dissenting choice.

Next was the federal presidency.  We could choose between Jill Stein (Green), Gloria La Riva (Socialist – marked with an asterisk as “Not a registered party in the state of Utah”), Mitt Romney (Republican), Barack Obama (Democrat), Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Virgil Goode (Constitution), and Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson (aha, Justice – this guy is a former Salt Lake mayor, elected by the insular liberal majority there, but the rest of us view him as severely imbalanced and unfit for office).

My choice was Romney, due to the pervasive immorality in general and corruption in particular of the opposing party and candidate.  This is not to say that I don’t admit that some of Romney’s policy expectations are more hypotheses than certainties — only that I can’t support a political movement that wars against religious faith and seeks to enshrine and mandate a secular bureaucracy as a state religion as well as a final arbiter of wealth and property, that distorts and replaces equality with a discriminatory false equality, that has commandeered the partisan sympathies of most traditional news outlets and destroyed a free press (or driven it on-line), that is guilty of social engineering and eugenics, that aligns with satirists, rioters, and malcontents and thrives on the incivility, greed, disunity, and re-education of society, and so on.

Nor could I support such a habitual cover-upper, blame-deflector, and ridiculer as Obama.  He has enjoyed some large and many small successes amidst his very many struggles and failures, and has not exactly “destroyed the country” except in an abstract cultural sense, behind which he was not the prime instigator anyway, but rather a reflection or outgrowth; but his brightest spot by far is that he has given us a “black” president (though we still wait for a blacker one).  This goal having been accomplished, I feel it’s time for him to explore other career options.  Romney will get his chance to be voted out when things don’t go well for him either.

Still, if he doesn’t win, that’s fine.  I trust in God.

My other selections were not all so intentional.  Our next choice was for the U.S. Senate; we could pick Shaun Lynn McCausland (Constitution), Scott Howell (Democrat), Orrin Hatch (Republican), Daniel Geery (Justice), or Bill Barron (Socialist).  I recently got an advertisement from Scott Howell, and he seems fairly decent, but I decided to back Hatch way back in the primaries due to being favourable to his record, beliefs, and manner.  So far, I have sympathies to the Constitution Party, and to a lesser extent, the Libertarian Party.  Had there been a Libertarian candidate, I would have had to think hard about whether he or Howell would get my support for third place.

Next was our House representative.  I’m in District 4, and had the opportunity to support the Haitian woman, Mia Love (Republican).  Our other choices were Jim Vein (Libertarian) and Jim Matheson (Democrat).  This would have been another tough choice for second place.  My family is among those who tried to tolerate Matheson; although I didn’t vote for him before, I know my conservative mother did.  Of course, he’s fallen into disfavour in Utah this last term for descending into unrepresentative partisanship (as well as apparently being redistricted), and neither I nor she could imagine retaining him in the present climate or with the possibility of Obama remaining in office.

For Utah governor, we could choose between Peter Cooke (Democrat), Ken Larsen (Libertarian), Kirk Pearson (Constitution), and our incumbent leader, Gary Herbert (Republican).  On account of his quick surrender to the misinformation campaign of state hedonists and perverted academicians with the reproductive education bill earlier this year (a fairly major issue to me), I had warned him in a disappionted e-mail that he had lost my support… and so it was.  I sided with the Constitution candidate.  Still, I once admired Herbert.  Given a tighter race with Cooke, I would have considered voting strategically for the Republican, whom I agree with more often than I would with the Democrat, despite my offense over Herbert’s perceived cowardice and betrayal.

For state attorney general, we could choose between Dee Smith (Democrat), John Swallow (Republican), and W. Andrew McCullough (Libertarian).  I had preferred Swallow’s opponent, Sean Reyes, in the primaries, but not strongly, and I defaulted without concern to Swallow.

For state auditor, our choices were Mark Sage (Democrat), John Dougall (Republican), and Richard Proctor (Constitution).  I think party matters a little less to this office, but I still voted for my choice in the primaries, John Dougall, whose campaign I liked.

For state treasurer, it was Christopher Stout (Democrat), Vincent Marcus (Libertarian), and Richard Ellis (Republican).  I hadn’t studied these candidates very much and had nothing against any of them, but was more familiar with the Republican, and chose him.

I’m in Utah House district 36.  Our choice for representative was either Dana Dickson (Republican) or Patrice Arent (Democrat).  Ms. Arent has enjoyed her responsibilities of office for an exceptionally long time, testifying to the troubling leftward lean of the semi-local wealthy people living up the mountain from me.  I have never liked Ms. Arent from the first time I saw her unusual name on a sign, and since I noticed her hiding her party affiliation.  She was more open about it in this campaign, but still restricted her policy promotion to non-controversial issues (unfortunately including opposition to the same effort that Herbert lost my support by opposing), and still shows a probably wise, yet annoying, tendency to mask her partisan feelings.

Also unfortunately, Mr. Dickson, as far as I can tell, has spent very little effort campaigning until quite recently, notwithstanding a small, hopeful contribution I’d made to him.  Arent has also not been very committed, I think, but at least has capitalised on her established presence and recycled her earlier efforts.  Dickson did show his reassuring intellectual side in a Republican election-awareness magazine last week, and has mailed a few things and started being more visible, and it was still my privilege to cast him my vote.

For county mayor (Salt Lake County), we could select either Mark Crockett (Republican) or Ben McAdams (Democrat).  I’d sided with Crockett in an extremely close primary race, but would have liked his opponent, too.

I actually met Crockett on the night of the caucus votes, where he’d come to campaign.  He was rather short and normal-looking, and I mistook him for a late, lost voter, since I’d taken it on myself to help direct other lost voters.  We exchanged some kind of greeting and a handshake, but when I asked if he was looking for his precinct, I seemed to have lost his interest in communicating; he grew listless and didn’t answer, looking instead toward our director person.  Though a bit perturbed by his sudden lack of attention, I soon understood why he was there when he made a statement to the group, and I appreciated his presence.  It was a tough call to side with him over Mike Winder, but I think he was just a slightly stronger candidate and ran a tighter campaign.

McAdams, on the other hand, is a left-wing liberal supported by other liberals.  His impish grin doesn’t endear him to me, though I’m sure he’s an earnest enough fellow.  I’m sure he’ll keep running for stuff if he loses.

Next were two county council votes, an “at-large” seat vied for by Joseph Demma (Republican) and long-timer Jim Bradley (Democrat), and our district 4 seat contended over by Missy Larsen (Republican) and Sam Granato (Democrat).  Like Patrice Arent, Bradley sells himself as a centrist, which in a Republican state either makes you a closet leftist or a moderate Republican.  Still, I have nothing against him for my own lack of research… but Demma got my vote all the same.

The fourth district vote was the closest to home of them all.  My dear elder brother, corrupted early by the wrong crowd in high school and vulgar, conservative-bashing late-night comedy outlets on t.v., and solidified by a long tutelage under our flaming, militant, left-wing news organ, the Salt Lake Tribune, has been a fan of Granato since the man ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010.  Granato is obviously from here (like Larsen); his family was in our stake, I think.  I know of him because of his delicatessen or import grocery store on 27th East and about 40th South.  Back when I was spending time with our local missionaries on exchanges before my own calling, I joined them on one or two of their regular visits to Granato’s, since it was right next to their apartments, and since Sam or whoever offered the missionaries free sandwiches.

I also knew of him because, as an importer and a food services advocate, he came to be a strong proponent of flooding our communities with liquor, in the name of conforming with the drooling intoxicants of our fallen society who might give him a dollar in exchange for help with their long-term assisted suicide.  Me, I think liquor chains mankind to the animal kingdom.  I think in the super-advanced future, it won’t exist except as an embarrassing memory, a relic of barbarism, as it were.  I also don’t agree with liberals; so I refrained from supporting Granato during his senate race, earning my dear, brainwashed brother’s progressive rebuke.

For this election, I’d given a very small amount to Missy Larsen’s campaign, and she had written an e-mail asking if our yard was available (she’d also sent a cute thank-you note).  I could find no reason to not support her except for suspicions over her family’s mixed political background, and our conservative step-father agreed, so we now have a Missy Larsen sign at the edge of our property.  (My brother, Shane, confronted me over it later; his latest cause is opposing the “Ski Link” development plan, which Granato is also against, and which Larsen has seemed to neither support nor oppose, but which Shane assumes she supports.  Maybe he’s right to be against that; I’m on the fence, though in principle, I don’t admire the extreme environmentalist paranoia surrounding it.)

Like other candidates, I think if Granato really wants to parlay his religiosity or bipartisan sensibilities into elected office, he should do it from the majority party, or else independently, if he claims to reject both extremes.  To me, to my culture and views, liberal Democrats are radicals (the Christian right is also radical to my particular culture, but it’s from their own personality defects rather than being a structural component of their platform).  Fiercely retaining membership in a party while disavowing that party’s radicalism sends conflicting messages about where one’s priorities are.  For me, it’s moral questions, and candidates of a party officially opposing, ridiculing, and even conducting psychological warfare against my moral stances have a tremendous lot of ground to make up for with me.

So, obviously, I have again declined to back Granato and have voted for Larsen.

Next, we had some school board positions, little discussed.  I chose Jennifer Johnson over Chris Williams for the state, and Dan Lofgren over Wagner Jones for our local district, on account of their respective backgrounds.

Next was a series of judicial retentions.  Unlike last time, when I cast a shock vote against them all, this time I went ahead and sided with them all.  If it had been Christine Johnson, the hyper-feminist and antagonist of my former roommate, Stetson Hallam, and others (for very different reasons), I probably would have given her a thumbs-down.

Next was a constitutional amendment (“A”) forcing Utah to invest mineral proceeds in its own interest-bearing trust fund.  My mom had rejected it casually, lacking information, and I would have too, except that I read about it on a state voting site.  I couldn’t imagine a better idea, even during a recession, and I support it fully.  This is the exact same mechanism and rationale as for personal savings, but on a larger scale.  The contrary argument, to give lawmakers more flexibility to spend from year to year, is utterly wrong-tracked to me and will amount to a huge opportunity cost compared with mandatory investment in an “emergency” fund that hopefully is left alone.

Then we had another amendment (“B”) to force citizens to pay property taxes of deployed soldiers.  I’d thought it a romantic idea at first, but after some discussion with my mom, I found that I accepted her arguments: soldiering, while noble and thankworthy to many, is both voluntary and fairly compensated, just like the high- and low-risk jobs of every other taxpayer; and soldiers already enjoy multitudinous benefits without creating a new entitlement for them, at the burden of the rest.

This is essentially a tax raise on everybody else, in the name of sympathy for those who may die for our country — that is, those who may die (or live) in uniform, not those who may live or die for the country as civilians.  If this were some benefit for wounded or fallen soldiers, or for forced conscripts, there might be another dimension to the argument, but it’s not.  I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to take steps towards creating a professional military class.  Let a man serve or not serve freely; let him get fairly paid if he does.  Help him if he loses an appendage in battle.  Shower him with free education if you really have such a surplus.  Protect his equal vote.  Tax him equally.  Leave him as an American, like the rest of us; if he is a hero, don’t monetarise and tarnish his heroism by hiking everybody else’s taxes as some gift to him.  Don’t turn him into a dependent of the state by feigning gratitude, or swaying the military vote towards dependency.  Don’t sow that resentment towards their fellow citizens in those who want to enjoy the fruits of their own labour.  What if we suddenly wanted to tax ourselves to free doctors, heroic doctors who save all of our lives, from property taxes, or policemen, or teachers, or job-makers, or heroic politicians, or whatever special-interest group of the day?  We stratify ourselves into many Americas, if we do.  The flatter our taxes, the more equal we feel; but once severed from an equal tax, all manner of jealousies erupt, and we start accusing everybody else of not paying their share — we’ve destroyed the definition of what a “fair share” is, when everybody pays differently.  We need to reject proposals of special benefits, whether they’re to people we like, or to us ourselves.  But if any of us wants to support a military family in need, we know where our wallets are.  Many have shown such willingness.  Don’t make charity into a tax; it neither sanctifies the giver nor strengthens the receiver.

So, yeah, I rejected B.

Next, we had a county bond proposal for open spaces and what-have-you.  It’s a nice idea, but this is essentially another tax hike to back up spending of money the county doesn’t have.  If the county wants to do something, don’t hand a bill 20 years into the future.  Cut your budget, get a surplus, save some money, and do what you think needs doing.  That’s the right way.  Every budget can be cut, though it might take some tooth-gritting.  On the other hand, debt is a key in the locked doorway to insolvency; the evidence is abundant.  My mother recalled supporting a much smaller zoo tax hike some years ago, which I think I also supported, but I refused this measure.

Finally, we had the question of incorporating our township into a city.  I was once more of a proponent of this action, but at this point, I can’t see how it will necessarily improve anything, but I can see how it will necessarily cost more.  I don’t worry any more about annexation; if people want to go pay more taxes to a neighbouring city, go ahead.  There’s really nothing that needs fixing that can’t be fixed as part of the county, and, as I mentioned in a previous comment, I’m wary of a glut of city development.  I voted ‘no’.

For form of government if incorporated, my mother’s reasoning interested me: an equally divided council would be a check against itself that a forced majority wouldn’t be.  I chose “six-member council” instead of five-member, five-member-with-mayor, or seven-member-with-mayor.

Well, I’ll try to get my ballot in sooner or later.  It’s sitting here stuffed in an envelope now.  I thought I’d be in Korea by now and might not have this chance, but I thank heaven for it.  May God’s will supersede our own and guide our minds and hands, and may we forgive each other for our inevitable wrongness.  May God bless America, this bloody land.  The land remembers its blood; may the blood America spills be from patriotism and self-sacrifice, and not murder nor oppression.  May God bless Utah, and my East Mill Creek, that our tiny lives will have been for something good in this world.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

-Steve Foster

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