Self interest, not public service, rules the roost
It may see that today we have more division, more rancor and more hatred between various political parties than we have ever had before.
If you study American history there have always been periods like this, but this, somehow, seems worse.
I attribute this problem to two things. First, politicians seem to politically position themselves for each and every individual interest group in the country more than they ever have. The idea of pandering to one group or another to get votes is nothing new, they just seem to haven gotten better at it. That brings us to the second point.
Second, the American people seem more gullible than ever. I see it nationally, statewide and locally. If one really thinks about the things that politicians say in one place and then what they say in another, most of us would think that person is two different people. In nice terms it's called getting across the message.
And it comes from both parties, although in this state, being primarilly a Republican state, with the scale so heavily tipped in one direction, it seems the GOP office seekers seem to take even more liberties with where they head when telling people what they want to hear. I see two mistruths here.
The first mistruth is how they are going to cut government spending. That is unless, of course, it affects Utah. We have politicians all over the place who are running who say they want to go to Washington D.C. and will vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment and/or will reduce spending across the board.
Sure they will do that to look good. They will vote and then the government will come around and say to each state and locality "well because of that vote we will be cutting ________.
When the _________ is threatened, suddenly these same politicians will begin to fight to keep that funding even though they say they are fiscal conservatives. "No cuts in my back yard," they will say.
Whether it be Hill Air Force Base, Dugway Proving Grounds, ATK, social programs or whatever they will say "Utah needs the money and the jobs." They will say "This is too important to be cut."
People are always fiscal conservatives when it comes to spending when they are affecting someone else's state, and not theirs.
The second mistruth is when they tell you "They haven't made a decision on that yet." I heard it last week when Senator Mike Lee was in Price.
Answering a direct question by Carbon County Commissioner Mike Milovich about whether he (Lee) supported the building of the Gooseberry Narrows project, Lee said he hadn't studied it enough to know and won't make a decision until a vote on it gets "teed up before Congress."
But the fact is that he has studied it. Late last summer commissioners from Sanpete County actually took him to the site of the proposed dam and explained their side of the argument. He also held a town meeting that night in Fairview and one of the topics of discussion there was the dam.
So he does know about it. And Gooseberry supporters have related to everyone time and time again that either in public or in private all the congressional delegation from Utah (except Jim Matheson) support the construction of the project.
It galls me, and ought to gall you too that we cannot get a straight answer out of elected officials on what is a straight forward question. I understand the politics, believe me. Had Lee said he supported construction, he would have lost half the audience (either they would have walked out or they would have sat there in steaming silence) which is not what he wanted.
Had he said he opposed the construction then he would have had to pay the piper later when he was working with conservatives who do.
So he took the easy road out.
This question of support for the dam goes right to the heart of the matter that I discussed earlier in this column. Even if the dam were a good thing for Carbon (which it isn't) should someone who portends to be a fiscal conservative want to spend $100-$200 million to build the water project.
Two weeks ago Republicans running for office of one kind or another in Sanpete County tripped all over themselves to assure Sanpete residents that the dam will get built. State Represenative Steven Sandstrom, who is running for the Fourth Congressional seat, reportedly said "Your water needs to flow from that dam. I will tell Carbon County that Sanpete needs that water as much as you do" (Sanpete Messenger, April 4, 2012).
The local paper also pointed out that the Narrows Dam "would probably be paid for largely with federal loans and/or grants."
Sandstrom (along with others who also made comments) all portend themselves to be fiscal conservatives. If that is what they really are, shouldn't they be saying "You are electing me to cut government spending, so as much as I would like to support such a project, this would cost a great deal of money we don't have."
But of course they wouldn't say that because they want to get elected.
It seems public service has gone out the window in trade for self interest and self interest only.