OPINION – Unlike the overhyped presidential election, where little actual disparity can be found between the likely candidates, a number of state and local races are putting a real choice before Utah voters.
The upcoming primary election could be described as a contest between members of the old guard and an emerging new guard.
The old guard represents the familiar names, faces and policies of the incumbency. These are individuals who are experienced and well connected politically. They know how to close ranks when they perceive a threat to their influence, and are perfectly willing to call in mutually supporting favors from their fellow politicians. When faced with a choice between power and principle, these leaders will generally choose what preserves their power.
None of this should be construed as proof of evil intent on the part of the old guard; instead, it illustrates a common trait of human nature that power, once obtained, is a very difficult thing to let go.
The new guard can best be described as individuals who have recognized a need for leadership that is grounded in the principles of limited government and greater accountability to the people. To them, raw political power is less desirable than keeping government power within its correct boundaries. Most of the new guard are newcomers to politics and are running for office out of a sense of public virtue rather than personal gain.
Public virtue, in this sense, is synonymous with the concepts of service, self-sacrifice, and disinterestedness. It denotes a choice in which a person’s self interests are voluntarily put aside and sacrifices made for the benefit of society in general. In the case of the new guard, many of the candidates are stepping forward at considerable personal cost to serve where they recognize a need for more principled leadership.
Because many of the emerging new guard do not aspire to be career politicians, the old guard often dismisses them as idealistic and inexperienced. This is a mistake.
The new guard candidates, in most cases, have devoted a great deal of time and effort to understanding the challenges and opportunities before us, as well as the foundational principles by which good government operates. This is something the old guard has, in many cases, forgotten.
A good example of this is found in Utah’s District 28 Senate race mailer sent out by a member of the old guard, Evan Vickers, accusing the new guard incumbent, Casey Anderson, of wishing to take away the right of the people to choose their federal senator and give it to state legislators who would make that choice “in secret.”
Sounds pretty scary, right? Until we remember that prior to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, it was the duty of state legislatures to appoint the senators who would represent the state in Congress. When the 17th Amendment replaced that practice with the popular election of federal senators, the allegiance of the senators shifted from their states to the federal government and the states lost their voice in Washington and an essential check on federal power.
The incumbent state senator, Anderson, having actually studied history and recognizing the corresponding loss of state power that accompanied the ratification of the 17th Amendment, has simply pointed out that the states were better represented under the method described in Article I, Section III, of the Constitution.
Whether the mailer’s portrayal of this sentiment was due to lack of knowledge or a calculated distortion of his opponent’s position, it reveals a common blind spot of the old guard. That blind spot is a presumption that if an intended outcome is achieved, then whatever was undertaken to achieve it was justified.
This mindset is also applied to legislation or policy decisions without any thought as to whether the action squares with the principles of good government. As a result, the old guard has, in many ways, contributed to the crushing regulatory and financial burdens being borne by the taxpayers.
Name recognition alone used to be sufficient to carry the day for the old guard, but the proliferation of readily available information combined with a growing sense of government overreach has prompted many voters to do their homework.
The old guard senses that a shift is taking place and is doing its best to protect its power from what it foolishly labels “radicals.” But a closer examination of what motivates these new guard candidates to run for office will reveal that, in many cases, we finally will have an actual choice in the coming election.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.