Sunday, October 10, 2010

Politics in Utah

I can't believe I moved to a red state. I didn't realize how much I'd gotten used to living in the liberal blueness that was New York, surrounding by academics and friends who, like me, pushed for progressive thinking. Here I'm surrounded by people who are all the same, who, to me, seem to be afraid of any thinking that would alter the status quo - whereas I got used to the "Let's keep things changing!" line of thinking. Perhaps most people are petrified of change, and I'm just used to people who aren't. (Yes, I notice the irony of being surrounded by folks who think Just Like You.)

When I registered to vote here in Utah (as a Democrat, thank you very much), on the spur of the moment I checked the Absentee Voter box, so last week I got my ballot in the mail. It's quite the process, looking over all these names of people about whom I know nothing. I logged on to the Vote Utah site to check out the candidate info page; most of those running give a short, 200-word statement of qualifications, often which include links to websites (huzzah), thereby allowing me to check out individual takes on "the issues." There are a lot of issues I don't have particularly strong feelings about; and while I try not to be a Single Issue voter, the single issue I can follow with extreme clarity is education.

What I first noticed is how amazing it is that the people who are running don't give specifics - not just in discussing education, but every single issue . A four- or five-line statement (not even a four- or five-line sentence) telling me that you think NCLB was a terrible idea (duh) and that we need to fix it, without telling me how, doesn't tell me anything. I nearly wept with joy when I saw that Peter Corroon, the Democratic candidate for Governor, had a 36-page plan for education. (Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Herbert also included more than 50 words on the subject.) Now, Corroon didn't have long statements for every issue; for example, how he plans "to bring these principles [and] philosophy [that all citizens of Utah should be allowed to live their lives free of discrimination]" is a bit of a mystery, but comparatively speaking, Carroon has already put in more details than most of the other candidates I've perused so far. While it's great to tell me you want to promote healthy lifestyles, my unending question is, "How?" Perhaps it's just not feasible to answer that question in every single instance, but it's frustrating to just be told that a candidate thinks we need to build a big fence to keep out the scary immigrants.

And at least Curroon's website was light years better gubernatorial candidate Andrew McCullough, the Libertarian candidate who faxed his electronic statement of qualifications, and who on his website didn't address a single issue. At least he has a MySpace page.

Yes, I judge my candidates partially on their technological (in)competence, just like I judge alleged professionals who don't check for spelling and grammar while attempting to get my vote. If candidate don't have a fairly exhaustive list of issues on their website, or if they only address four or five issues, I am...nonplussed. Give me reading material, dammit!

I usually go around telling people that I'm apolitical, but during elections I get all riled up.

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