I am just as perplexed as many others are about who to vote for in the upcoming November election. In my 40 years in the United States, never have I witnessed a time when we as a nation were plagued with challenges so immense that they threaten our way of life if not dealt with properly. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
The people vying to be elected to public office are not clear as to how they will tackle the problems. The media is using scare tactics to form public opinion. Extreme viewpoints are offered on just about every issue. I believe that Fox News is detrimental to national integration and is doing far more damage than good. One characteristic of scare journalism is that we feel so helpless and depressed.
To counter it, we have to take the time to increase our awareness of issues and solutions. Our country is being polarized for political, partisan and personal profit. Now is the time to push back.
Another factor which complicates our ability to have the right leaders is the pitifully small number of people who turn out to vote. A 30 to 45 percent turnout is normal for a primary -- and 70 percent of those voters are over 60. In essence, the elections are decided by a minority of the voting public because the majority belong to the party of indifference. Politicians are aware of this and cater to those issues important to the voters. For example, education and jobs are important for young parents, but few of them come out and vote. For me, Social Security, energy, health care costs, budget deficits caused by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are important issues. I also feel strongly about ethics and it bothers me that we live in a state where there is no check on ethics.
Another issue is the way our Republican primary works. Several candidates are running unopposed under the "R" banner. And that banner in a lopsidedly red state like ours is a guarantee to an office, no matter how incapable the candidate is. The Standard-Examiner editorial Sept. 28), "A limp GOP pledge" points out how ludicrous the Republican's "Pledge to America" is. I am amazed at the GOP's ability to walk in lockstep on every issue. They are truly a party of "No."
The qualities I look for in a candidate are simple: he/she must be brutally honest, a collaborator, not a finger-pointer, a visionary with concrete ideas, not swayed by lobbyists and self-interest groups, and a true leader whose moral compass is not out of alignment.
You may think that I have set the bar high, but believe me, there are leaders of such caliber out there. Our former governor, John Huntsman was one. I will share other names in this article. And I will restrict myself to Box Elder County because that is where I live. That way I can focus rather than worry about Harry Reid or Sarah Palin.
I am also a firm believer in term limits: six two-year terms for House members and two terms for senators, a total of 12 years each.
These leaders must live under the rules and regulations they help create rather than living a privileged life in the political realm.
Today the highest offices in the national and state legislatures are restricted to the very wealthy who pander to self-interest groups rather than looking out for all constituents. Utah is heaven for special interest groups with deep pockets because we have absolutely no limits on who can contribute to a campaign or how large the sum can be. Governor Herbert is fine with this and is also satisfied with the status quo. He will not get my vote.
I also hold incumbents responsible for what they have accomplished. I believe the eight years of George W. Bush in office ruined the nation. The fruits of his rule are: two costly, mismanaged wars; careless deregulations implemented with free market battle cries that lost 2.6 million jobs -- a jobless rate not equaled since 1945; huge tax breaks for the wealthiest 10 percent; lackluster efforts on education, immigration, space, and environmental policies; and passing on the greatest deficit in our history. Congressman Rob Bishop was solidly behind everything on the Bush agenda. He was very much a part of this debacle and he does not meet my standards of a leader.
This is how I have decided to vote thus far: Governor: Peter Carroon. Congress: Morgan Bowen. Senate: Sam Granato. House District 2: Lee Perry. Senate District 17: Sherry Phipps. Constitution Amendment D (ethics): For.
I continue to pay attention to the excellent editorials in the Standard-Examiner offering balanced information on issues, and I also check non-partisan websites such as www.factcheck.org., www.votesmart.org, www.politifact.com.
Kulkarni lives in Perry.