Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Mike Lee Should Be Utah's Next Senator


It is clear that Robert Bennett no longer deserves to be a United States Senator from Utah.  The only choice left is which of his four Republican challengers should replace him.  When Mike Lee recently announced his candidacy for the position, I threw my initial support behind him.  After last night's Independence Caucus-sponsored debate, I am even more convinced that I made the correct choice.

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There are any of a number of litmus issues for which Senator Bob Bennett has illustrated that he is no longer constitutionally qualified to be a United States senator.  His recent finagling with regard to a national health care regime is only the most recent.  His support of George W. Bush in rewarding taxpayer money to Wall Street failures is another.  In my opinion, Bennett's very worst vote as a senator (over which I spit nails), was when he and Senator Orrin Hatch voted to give even more expansive surveillance powers to the federal government under the already expansive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

I must give credit where credit is due, however.  The Senator does clearly understand that he is constitutionally required to stand for re-election every six years.

Last night James Williams, Cherilyn Eagar, Tim Bridgewater, and Mike Lee participated in a very informative debate at the Provo Downtown Marriott, sponsored by Independence Caucus.  I think any one of these candidates would be an improvement over Senator Bennett, for the reason, as I described above, that Senator Bennett has over time developed a greater and greater aversion to the United States Constitution.


Mike Lee, however, distinguished himself from his debate competition by his understanding and application of the constitutional principles.  Here are a few of my observations why.

Making the Constitution Understandable.  Mr. Lee has the ability, innate or otherwise, to take a complex subject and explain it in such a way that makes people not only understand it, but agree that the explanation makes perfect sense.  In a day when a lot more people need to be given the opportunity to ask "Why didn't I think of that?", Mike Lee has the skill to give them that occasion.  Both my wife and I came away from the debate with a much refurbished understanding of the Constitution. We also determined to use some of our future Family Home Evening discussions for review with our children of these integral but oft-forgotten principles and concepts.


Constitutional Statesmanship. At many times during the debate, Lee cited Article and Section from the Constitution in his concise explanations of how to identify and foster good federal government. This was to me quite refreshing when juxtaposed with the legislative behavior of most current members of Congress. Most or our representatives don't even see the need to have legislation comport with the Constitution, much less knowing how their bills ever would agree with it.  Each of Lee's responses--regarding the proper role of government, sound fiscal policy, the duties of a senator, and the limited powers of Congress--demonstrated fidelity and integrity.  While others of the debate candidates gave sometimes pragmatic or purely political answers to the questions posed to them, Mike Lee stayed on course with clear and concise constitutional reasoning.  I can trust that, with his meticulous knowledge of our founding documents, Mike Lee's moral compass would forbid him from legislating in a manner other than the way the the Constitution intends. 


Pinpoint Focus and Coherence. As I sat in the debate audience listening to the questions, I formulated in my mind how I would have responded to them.  In every case, I was compelled to admit that Mike Lee's response not only agreed with mine, but that each was better than the response I would have been able to give.  While the answers of other candidates often wandered without cohesion from one theme to another, each of Lee's responses quickly cut through the big picture to explain in very direct and coherent terms not only his understanding of the question, but also why the question was important.


It is for these reasons that I support Mike Lee for Senate.  It is also for these reasons that I oppose term limits.  When one finds the attribute of skill coupled with the characteristic of statesmanship, wouldn't one want to benefit from both for years to come?


What are your thoughts on the Utah Republican Senate race? Am I too hard on Bob Bennett? Do you have a different candidate that you support? I'd appreciate your perspective on this race, especially if you attended the debate last night (January 15th, 2010) at the Provo Marriott.

21 comments:

  1. Great post, Frank. I agree with your assessment of how last night went, and am support Mike for many of the same reasons. I look forward to unseating Bennett and sending him packing. (No doubt to some plush revolving-door job for Fannie, Freddie, or some bank...)

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  3. I'm truly trying to understand the excitement over Lee, and honestly, I don't get it.

    When we spoke with him on air at KVNU FTP, I challenged him with "Okay, so if Bennett deserves to go for TARP, and you admit [assumed] that a frozen credit market or worse a run on the banks in a primarily financially driven economy is a bad thing, what would you have done differently?"

    His response was that he would've found a response that didn't balloon the deficit.

    I was left wondering... Okay, what?

    To me he seems simply the most demagogic (and that's saying a LOT, considering Eager is in this thing) of all the candidates, and that makes me wonder if people aren't just willingly allowing themselves to be bamboozled by oversimplified talking points, and the use of the word "Constitution" every 15 seconds, confusing that with a good Senator.

    Perhaps my lack of understanding stems from seeing Bennett as a pragmatist (he is, and I've yet to see/read/hear a convincing argument otherwise that wasn't more hyperbole than sound reasoning) with enough conservative creds to lose my support completely.

    Litmus tests are counter productive, and self defeating in politics (where judgment situation by situation should be the norm in functional governance) and I fail to see where the trendy Bennett-hate evolves into anything but such a black and white and convenient rendition of realities into mindless talking points.

    And I'll remind you, I say this as a person who won't be casting a vote for Bennett.

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  4. Your comment, as well as challenge on the radio, presumes that it's the role of the federal government to manage the economy. There is no Constitutional basis for what was done, and ample reason to get government out of the way to let the market self-correct far faster than government can make happen.

    Government intervention has almost always prolonged the pain, rather than achieving its stated affect of fixing the perceived problem. Congress has not been delegated authority to "fix the credit market" or anything related to it. If people took risks, then they should suffer, regardless of who else (who voluntarily chose to affiliate themselves with such businesses/organizations) might suffer along the way. There is no moral argument for the government inflating the money supply (theft, counterfeit, and fraud) to throw the newly-created funny money at well-connected businesses in hopes that things will get better. You don't put out a fire (burning paper currency) by throwing more dollars onto the heap.

    Mike's answer, though not politically palatable to some, including yourself, is one perfectly in step with somebody who has taken, or is willing to take, an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Ours is not a federal government legally tasked with fixing every problem that comes along, and the "credit market" issue is no different.

    Government's role in this debacle is to minimize the onerous regulations that helped foment the disaster, and let people making private decisions on how to manage their own capital decide best where it should be put, and when.

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  5. Jason: I went here [http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/audio-on-demand/for-the-people] to find the audio of your interview with Mike Lee, but I couldn't find it. Is it supposed to have been the 2nd hour of the January 7th show? It doesn't look like anything is there since hour 1 of January 7th.

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  6. Woot woot. Another lawyer in Congress. Just what America needs!

    Mike is a brilliant attorney, but quite frankly I think our country has too many lawyers in Congress, not too few.

    Has he ever run anything? A business? A state? A city? That was the troubles with someone like Obama and his minions in the White House. They were straight-A students in college just like I'm sure Mike Lee was. But as we're all finding out, giving a great speech doesn't exactly equate to leadership ability. Lee might convince me otherwise over time, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid right off the bat like so many other Utah conservatives are doing.

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  7. Mike Lee is an interesting Candidate. I wanted to like him a lot. But after meeting with him, I was turned off. Then reading his platform, I found it a little disconcerting that he is running as the constitutional candidate, and yet in the same platform he proposes two amendments to the Constitution.

    Can you explain why that isn't a concern to you?

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  8. @Travis
    The reason for the amendments is that the Founders could never have guessed the influence that lobbyists and money has in DC. But what they did guess was that since they could never know what would could be coming, they allowed for amendments to help perfect the document.

    Mike has said all along that if you can come up with a better idea on how to limit the influence of lobbyists, he's all for it. But after studying the issue, he can find no other way to change things in DC.

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  9. @Dan

    I think you aren't giving the founders enough credit. They may not have pictured them as lobbyists. But they understood the power of money and men of influence. I think that by limiting terms on congress men you are limiting the power of the people. I believe in term limites. If you don't want someone to represent you anymore, then limit their term by voting them out.

    As for the balanced budget, that too can be solved by voting more principled individuals in office. Sure, my solutions are perfect, but nor is Lee's. And I think that Lee's changes are more limiting of individuals freedoms than limiting of the government.

    I am not against amending the constitution. There have been several good amendments. But as it is, we are still suffering under the pains of some of the amendments that still sit active. I would rather Lee work to repeal those amendments then make more.

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  10. I meant to say that my solutions AREN'T perfect..., but nor are Lee's.

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  11. Another reason Mike told me he wants term limits is because he sees no other way to get rid of the seniority system the Senate now has. Seniority was not the state of things with the founding fathers. Seniority means priviledge and more pork and earmarks for that Senator's state.... not an equal playing field.

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  12. Travis: I think Lee would love to work toward repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments. It's not evident, however, that there is enough interest in the American populace for that to happen.

    Term limits, however, would find a receptive audience. In principle I am against term limits but I am starting to agree with the sentiment expressed by Mike Lee and many others that it may be what we need to harness Leviathan and trim it down to its proper size.

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  14. My guess for Bennett's next employer is Fannie Mae. His son Robert has worked there.

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  15. Jerald Dastrup2/07/2010 09:20:00 AM

    I think we need term limits. Sen. Hatch is a great example. I was a delegate to the Rep. state convention in 1976 and voted for him even though I had relationships with 2 of the other candidates. He won and went to the senate as a freshman and fought against "the lion", Ted Kennedy, on labor issues and won. I was very proud of him, then. But, they can't be there as long as he has and not get corrupted. You can't wallow in the mud with pigs and not get some mud on you.

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  16. I was initially taken by Lee also, but with more talk and more information I am questioning that.
    I do not love the idea of another slick lawyer who knows how to sell himself in DC. I also have spoken to people who asked him specific questions in regards to the constitution that he could not answer off the top of his head in a face to face meeting. That concerns me as well.
    I have to admit Eager is looking better to me as I see her records and experience. She has fought for things I would fight for, and not just on paper...she has been fighting for years.
    It will be interesting to watch it unfold.

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  17. Questions about the CONSTITUTION that he could not answer off the top of his head?

    Are you KIDDING ME?

    Give me an example...

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  18. I've heard each of the candidates speak and did not draw the same conclusions from hearing Mike Lee. I support Cheilyn Eagar because she has such passion and a long record of taking conservative stances on issues.

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  19. I have heard Mike speak and have asked him questions myself, and am quite happy to throw my support behind him. I don't necessarily agree with him on everything - but his ability to articulate what he means and to present clear arguments in defense of civil liberties makes me excited at the prospect of him being our next representative in Washington.

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  20. To impose Term Limits he will need 2/3rds approval by the Senate, House and the legislatures. How does he propose to accomplish that?

    Those of us from states that value seniority are grateful that Utah is so willing to move to the back of the line.

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  21. I like this blog because is enhances facts about politics and governmental issues nevertheless what I disapprove is that people spread false rumors and try to discredit or embarrass someone else.

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