Monday, October 23, 2006

legislative process as a campaign tactic

The Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting scenerio/story that goes something like this
Candidate A: Education is my top issue. I would have scrapped a tax cut in favor of increased funding.
Candidate B: Me, too.
Candidate B: We are in desperate need of health care reform to get coverage to tens of thousands of uninsured Utahns.
Candidate A: I couldn't agree more.
Confused voter: Then why should I vote for you, Candidate A, over Candidate B?
Candidate A: I'm a Republican, and if you want your voice heard at all in Utah, you'd better elect me or you'll be marginalized along with the whole super-minority Democratic Party.
Candidate B: No, you should vote for me because you can't reverse the Legislature's wrong direction by throwing more Republicans into it.

history tells us that almost always, these kind of process arguments don't really matter to voters. Why else would Jim Matheson have been elected in 2000, narrowly won again in 2002, and was relected so overwhelmingly in 2004 (and soon 2006)? Why else would voters choose John Thune over then Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle?

I say that voters either like the candidates or they don't. Sometimes when they don't like either, they go with their ideological ally (see New Jersey 2000-06). Sometimes they just want to throw the bumb out, even if the other candidate isn't so great.

While both the GOP and Democratic arguments in this non-hypothetical have merit, it all is really besides the point if you are looking for the message that will get you votes (and fits you). State Republican party officials claim their arguement is working in some SLC districts (where almost all of the Democratic seats are), but I doubt it will pan out.

Voters get that dumping a Daschle will mean less money comes to their state, but they don't get how the voting for Speaker works, who the Speaker is, or even what the Speaker is (let alone who/what the Majority and Minority Whips are).

What does it say about our legislature and American legislative systems in general that in order to get anything done for the people you represent, you have to claim the right party mantle, even if it doesn't fit you? Dr. Joe Jarvis, at least on health care, sounds like he is from Berkley or Cambridge, not a Utah Republican. But part of his argument I assume is that Scott McCoy is a nice guy, but as a Democrat, he can't get anything done.

Claiming every candidate has to be from one party leads to the Soviet system and really runs a roughshod over minority rights. Since Scott McCoy is an openly gay Democrat he is naturally going to be more attuned to minority rights in all aspects, even if he is a rich, educated, white, male. Empathy through experience, that is something being a white male LDS Republican running for office in Utah will never have.

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