Sunday, May 04, 2008

Why am I running?

I apologize for the fact my Utah Amicus friends haven’t heard from me for awhile; I’ve been a little busy lately. As you’ve probably heard, I’m doing it again. After much discussion with party leaders, friends and family, I’m running for Utah State Senate.

Many of my non-political friends have asked: Why in heaven's name are you doing this again? That's a good question. I'm a shy person at heart. Campaigning for political office takes me way out of my comfort zone. Frankly, the last few years have been difficult ones for my family; the last thing we need right now is more stress. But my passion for our Democratic values and my love for this great state are in conflict with my personal desire for some rest and quiet. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the passion won out.

I have to admit that mixed with that passion this year is a little bit of anger.

During our congressional campaign two years ago, I received a call one morning from Andy Howell, the managing editor of the Standard Examiner. Andy told me they had interviewed Senator Bennett the previous day, and during that interview, Bennett had referred to the Democratic Party as “the anti-Mormon party of Utah”. Knowing I was a Democratic candidate and an LDS bishop, Andy wanted to get my reaction.

Let's forget for a moment the one thing we learned from Mitt Romney's presidential campaign: who the real anti-Mormon party is in America.

It makes me angry to hear the continued whispering campaigns and ignorant assertions that the GOP is the only true and living political party on the face of the earth with which the Lord is well pleased. It is not only untrue, it is disrespectful to and directly contradicts the repeated proclamations of the leaders of my faith.

I am weary of an ideologically rigid Legislative leadership that governs Utah with the philosophy: Whether by thine own voice or by the voice of thy servants Gail Ruzicka and the Eagle Forum, it is the same.

I am amazed how Utah conservatives can embrace a Bush Administration economic policy that is based on equal parts greed, massive debt, and Las Vegas-style speculation, and which has led this nation into one of the worst fiscal crises since the Great Depression - and then keep a straight face when claiming these policies are somehow consistent with Utah values.

I'm amused how a few of our citizens don't see the irony when they praise the successful missionary work among the Lamanites during Sunday School, and then on Monday morning claim that undocumented Latino working families are criminals that need to be loaded up on cattle cars and shipped back to Mexico.

And finally, I’m frustrated the Utah GOP falsely continues to tout themselves as the champions of limited government. A few crucial examples: In meetings with Weber County education administrators, teachers and parents, I’ve learned that one of the biggest roadblocks to improvement of public education in this state is the micromanagement of our local school boards and administrators by the Legislature. In the last session alone, there were sixty-odd education related bills passed that added to the confusion. Or talk to the residents of northern Ogden Valley, who are being forced by developers into a new township they vehemently oppose because the Legislature passed a bill that prohibited the county government from having any say in the process.

Well, I could go on. But like my run for Congress two years ago, a crucial part of my campaign will be convincing that great silent majority out there, the most wonderful people in this nation, that our values are their values – and not those guys running the Legislature. I stand proudly with Harry Reid when I say: I am not a Democrat in spite of my faith. I'm a Democrat because of my faith.

A wise 19th century religious leader has written that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, when they get a little authority, they begin to exercise “unrighteous dominion”. Note this was not written about people who are inherently evil. This is a trap for the good and well-intentioned of the world. Republican leaders in the Legislature are good, well-intentioned people, but the system they operate under is broken. Most Republicans I have talked to agree, and also agree the only solution is a return to a functioning two-party system.

Rob Miller and county party leaders across the state have done an excellent job this year recruiting quality candidates for the Utah Democratic Party. It remains to the rest of who love this state and want to return government to the people, to get out this fall and help these wonderful candidates get elected.


Editor said...

Now we've gone and done it. We've started a poll for the hottest county officials in Utah. After narrowing down candidates over the past 11 weeks, we're down to our final two polls before you can vote on the hottest in the Utah Legislature.
Just hit Elected Hotties and cast your vote. It's that easy.
You know, we always thought Steve was a pretty good looking guy. I'm sure he'll make a great candidate, not only for us, but for the senate, as well.

Anonymous said...

You can't have it both ways Steve. "Either by thine voice or those of my servants" - most Democrats stand for things that are antithetical to the average LDS Utahn hence the reason that Democrats continue to have difficulties in attracting LDS members.

And despite what you say, local Republicans have done a excellent job of representing us. Best managed state in the nation counts for something.

Good luck Steve but don't assume that the silent majority is as unhappy or ignorant as you might assume. We may actually be happy with what we have got.

Fed up senior said...

Anonymous, as an LDS Republican your comments make me sick. I'm tired of my party trying to wave the LDS banner when they elect people like Buttars, Curtis, Oda, Noel, Bramble, and so many others who have forgotten what it means to be Republican or LDS.

You can try to wave the best managed state mantra, but again it was this blog and these Democrats who pointed out that Utah recieved an F when it comes to helping abused children. As a senior citizen who can hardly afford my home any longer I would have to give our Republican leaders an F- on senior issues too.

Great blog Amicus! You are speaking my language.

D. Sirmize said...

"It makes me angry to hear the continued whispering campaigns and ignorant assertions that the GOP is the only true and living political party on the face of the earth with which the Lord is well pleased."

And I'm getting pretty sick of reading, on this blog and others, how the Democratic Party is the only true and living political party on the face of the earth with which the Lord is well pleased.

I'm no fan of our Republican State Legislature. But the self-righteousness of you "proud liberal Mormons" blows me away.

If you really want to "take back the state," you might want to take a less condescending approach toward the conservative ideology held dear by the majority of us.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Who's condescending? Steve Olsen was only commenting on statements made by our own Republican Sen. Bob Bennett.

As a senator responsible for representing Mormons and non-Mormons, the majority as well as the minority, Sen. Bennett was completely out of line.

The fact of the matter is that as a faithful LDS Church member, I find it very difficult to worship with bigots.

D. Sirmize said...

pot, meet kettle.

RW said...

To d. sirmize:
You make an interesting assertion that local liberal mormons are condescending. I see it as a group of Democrats standing up for what we believe in and we are tired of being bullied around. We are tired of being spit on and flipped off just because we have a Democratic bumper sticker on our cars. We are tired of being labeled for something we are not.(unpatriotic, no family values, etc.)And we are tired of the arrogance and hypocritical attitude of the Utah Republican Party. And we are tired of hearing, "how can you be a Democrat and be a Mormon?" And we tired of the secretive, under-the-table, behind-the-backs, ethically challenged government dominated by the self serving Republican Party.
And to Anon #1: You don't deserve a response, because it is obvious you are really out of touch.

D. Sirmize said...

"You make an interesting assertion that local liberal mormons are condescending."

No, I made the assertion that local liberal Mormon blogs are condescending. That and you have absolutely no sense of humor.

A quick mental inventory of my friends and associates concludes that I'm clearly somehow attracted to liberals personally. So it's nothing personal (though you really do need to lighten up a little). You're all great people.

I just don't want you running the government.

RW said...

ahh...if you knew me, you would know that I have a sense of humor. But local politics isn't funny. It is ironic that you are attracted to liberal people but don't want them to run our government. Hmmm, and the Republicans are doing such fantastic job. (that was a sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Republicans are doing a fantastic job.

Enjoy this little ditty from California, a heavily Democratic state. "California is facing a cash crisis this summer, putting pressure on elected officials to submit an on-time state budget or risk asking taxpayers to pay a premium on loans.

In the past, the state has been able to pay its bills despite projected deficits by borrowing money internally from some state special funds and by selling short-term notes on Wall Street."

This type of crap doesn't happen here. Utah is well-managed, develops a fiscally responsible and on-time budget. That is the work of the Utah Legislature.

I know the truth hurts and you wish it wasn't true but the Utah Legislature takes care of it's prime responsibility - developing a responsible budget.

D. Sirmize said...

"It is ironic that you are attracted to liberal people but don't want them to run our government."

Tell me about it. Liberals are great people, no doubt. But there is a definite condescending air when it comes to liberal blogging in general and liberal Mormon blogging specifically. Which is interesting given that in both the blogosphere and the bloggernacle, conservatives are the minority.

I'm not big on local politics, and as I said earlier, I'm no fan personally of most state GOP legislators.

But other than the fact that being the minority here hacks you off and the idiotic things a few Republicans tend to say, I can't say they're doing a bad job at all.

It's easy for you to claim that a Dem-led legislature wouldn't be as secretive and tyrannical as you claim the GOP here is. I'm just not sure you'll be any different when you "take back the state" (which I believe you someday will because you are much better organized and your numbers are growing).

All your talk reminds me of how the new Pelosi-led Congress was going to "take out the trash." Well, garbage day has passed and Congress is just as filthy as ever.

But I digress...

I just chuckle every time one of you posts the thoughtful, yet trite "I'm a Democrat because of my religion, not in spite of it" posts. Such frequent self-validation must ease the pain of being the minority party.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bishop Doesn't some credo you Mormons believe in say something like "Believing in obey, sustaining and honoring the law"

I know there is something in there like that. Or do you only follow the credo's and ideas that match your Liberal-commie positions?

Open the borders everybody! For the LDS Bishop has spoken.

Phil Hildebrand

RW said...

sirmize and anon: To show my sense of humor, you both make me laugh.
I find it interesting that most of the complaining in this state is from the far right, yet they are running our government. Anon, why do you complain if we we are doing so great?
sirmize, comparing Calif to Utah govt is quite a stretch. Is that the best you can do? Now that is funny. It has been 30 years since we have had a Democratic majority in the Legislature. Any opinions from the right about Democrats running Utah government is nothing more than silly assumptions. But, thanks for making me laugh.

D. Sirmize said...

rw, please note that I didn't make the California comparison. If you're going to rebuff me, humor me and address points I've actually made.

Anonymous said...

RW-Apparently you missed the reason for comparing Utah to California.

Utah has had a Republican majority for 30 years and has an outstanding reputation for fiscal management.

California has had a Democratic majority for many years and has a horrible reputation for fiscal management.