Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Utah State Legislature- Probably a Pretty Nice Bunch of Guys and Gals

Whew! The Session is almost over! I haven't fought on the limiting-public-access-to-government-information bill (HB477 amending GRAMA) or even said much on the immigration bills because there are so many others fighting on those issues. Oddly, the Governor refused to veto HB477 in spite of strong public protest because he was afraid of an override from the Republican super-majority in the Legislature. He may (one can hope) still veto any omnibus immigrant bill because nobody likes it. The Utah Compact supporters still don't like it and the tea-partiers are threatening political defeat for those who approved it because of the so-called "amnesty." Usually, when both sides aren't happy that's a sign it might be a good compromise. But in this case, it will be expensively litigated one way or another. And who needs an unclear message law with endless lawsuits? (and it's unconstitutional!)

I shouldn't be so hard on them. I just hope they or the public listen to me and the other moderates a little to get a better balance going in this state. I don't want everybody to agree with me or be Democrats. I just want a little respect for views other than the extreme conservatism that has taken over the Republican Party, worse here in Utah than even nationally.

What I would like to see in this state is a nice split of 40% Republicans and 40% Democrats saving 20% to be divided among the Libertarians or Greens or to remain Independents. The LDS Church actually promoted such a division at Statehood. They assigned members between the two national parties because they didn't want to have state politics defined by Mormon vs. Non-Mormon. (In those days, they had to force people to be Republicans!) My political ideal would be to have each political group or individual representative or senator share their best ideas and work out on common ground what the best way forward is for our state as a whole. Yeah. OK. Maybe a little idealistic.

Someone who prefers anonymity (although I've encouraged him to start his own blog) asked me the other day, what was the one thing that bothered me the most about modern conservative politics? He said he would give his answer after I gave mine. My response was (as if you couldn't tell already from this blog) the "religious" or self-righteous justifications for their politics along with the sometimes crusader mentality that ends justify the means. This appears to be the case even when they are non-religious with their secular dogma of conservatism and unquestionable patriotism. Historical examples that started me over the edge were the sanctimonious criminals Nixon and Agnew and the wrapped-in-the-flag felonious fraud of Oliver North.(By the way, I actually voted for Reagan- twice).

My friend's response was, "In a nutshell this is what bothers me the most. The sanctimony! The need to protect us from imagined threats. The idea that they are the arbiters of Freedom, that they and they alone understand the Constitution, the original intent of The Founders (as if they all had the exact same intent), the proper form of Government, the Scriptures. What should be taught in class. They are in effect everything they are warning you about."

Well, maybe we aren't the most temperate of passionate moderates.

But this is my philosophical problem and why I find myself sometimes feeling like a man without a country. The problems of modern US society appear to come out of the culture war that began in the 60s - youthful rebellion against war and restrictions on freedom leading to a moral-less wandering culture as idealistic as it may have been. And on the other side there was retrenchment in politics and culture, including a push back on civil rights. In religion, the camps split to the social gospel and believing whatever on one side, and on the other, again, retrenchment which for some became self-righteous fundamentalism. The Catholics, interestingly enough, seem to have gone both ways. I think maybe our LDS Church did too but not by halves. And those who rejected the restrictions on freedom sometimes separated themselves from the LDS church by choice or otherwise. Left in the middle once again, are those faithful who reject the predominantly political and cultural retrenchment without becoming libertines or intellectual apostates. That's why one of the stated purposes of my blog is to seek out faithful, moderate to progressive LDS so we can figure it out together. (Fair-minded, non-dogmatic conservatives are welcome too!)

And I'm not giving up. I swore that sacred oath to defend the Constitution on entering my federal employment and becoming an attorney. And I will keep up the fight the best way I can.

June 29, 2012
For some good news on Sandstrom's change of heart, click here.


  1. "And I'm not giving up. I swore that sacred oath to defend the Constitution", exactly!

    I asked myself this morning, "Why do I feel so passionately about things? Why can't I just let things go by and not become involved?"

    You've hit on my answer, because an oath means something. I swore the same oath when I put on my uniform. I have carried a pocket copy of the Constitution in my left breast pocket of my uniform to remind me to what I swore my oath and to what I owe my allegiance.

    To me, the most important words in the Pledge of Allegiance are, "and to the republic for which it stands."

  2. yeah, but not a "constitutional compound republic" until we figure out what that means. Oh, and my favorite part of the oath is "indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all!" Sounds like the Fourteenth Amendment to me.

  3. I have often shared your concern, especially when it comes to local politics. There is only so much you can do, and so much of what you do feels ineffective. But, like you, I have not given up. My main reasons for staying in this fight are:

    1) I honestly and sincerely believe in the Constitution and the principles on which our nation was founded and has grown. I consider myself a patriot and I would betray my own beliefs to give up.

    2) I believe in the rule I learned in Scouts, "Leave it better than you found it", and I cannot stand by while others destroy the country that my children will inherit one day.

    And for what it's worth, I believe that discussions and reasoned arguments like those you ably set out on this blog help lift the level of dialogue and the strength of your reasoning can make a difference.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks, Daniel. We're in the good fight.

    It's interesting that you would refer to Scouts just as I learned my love for the Constitution from my Citizenship in the Nation and Citizenship in the Community Merit Badges.

    Yay, Scouts!

  5. The comprehensive immigration bill isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Sandstrom's enforcement bill was discarded and the enforcement provisions in the omnibus bill got toned down quite a bit. It's limited to people already in custody for serious crimes, something local law enforcement should be doing anyway as they do background checks on those arrested. Other provisions may still be unconstitutional, however.

    And the legislature did pretty well on the state budget except that our schools, all the way through post-secondary, are still woefully underfunded.

    And on the tea party message bills, it's still as silly and crazy as ever with the bill declaring a "Compound Constitutional Republic" passed, apparently not signed yet. And the idiotic bill from Ken Ivory on listing the valid "constitutional" powers passed.

    And finally, the bill on legislative secrecy (limiting public access to electronic records and charging more for any record request) passed and was signed with the weird situation that apparently the Governor encourages public dialog and will convene a special session to address it. The public is finally paying attention to this obvious abuse of the power of the Republican super-majority.


Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!