What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
Last fall, I was invited by my state representative, the venerable John Dougall, to attend a lecture in Alpine about the Constitution. The speaker: Mike Lee. I had never heard of Mike, but I was free that evening and looked forward to both the lecture and an opportunity to network with some of my friends and allies, so I went.
I was quite impressed with the lecture, and later found out that there were rumors that Mike was considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bob Bennett—an individual who I have referred to as being no friend of the Constitution. After asking a few questions, surveying the political landscape, and pondering the matter, I sent Mike an email saying that if the rumors ever proved true, he would have my initial support and my volunteered services.
Six months later, here we are. Having served as Mike’s Director of Social Media, I’m happy to have played a small part in the large and complex effort that is involved in running a state-wide race for a federal office. Back in December, I entered this campaign with two key goals, both of which have now been fulfilled: defeat Bob Bennett, and ensure the best Republican secures the nomination.
To me, Mike Lee was the clear leader of the pack, and the person who best understands and will adhere to the Constitution. Other candidates had their positive attributes, but Mike was the obvious choice for me in determining who to support to achieve my second objective.
I’ve learned many interesting things while on this campaign, chief among them that I am a lightning rod (okay, I pretty much already knew that), and that my outspoken, transparent nature, coupled with some seemingly controversial opinions, is a recipe for attracting attention—not only to myself, but also to the candidate whose staff I was on. I’ve incurred the wrath and/or targeted opposition of a (now former) radio host, the incumbent Senator himself (on many occasions, and through TV ads, radio spots, blog posts, emails, and direct mail), powerful pro-Israeli lobbying organizations, and a high-ranking state official who shall be simply referred to as “John Doe”.
I take all that in stride, and with a slight sense of satisfaction—after all, as Ezra Taft Benson said, “Those who fight for principle can be proud of the friends they’ve gained and the enemies they’ve earned.” My perspective on these attacks and protests is that these individuals have weak character, and in some cases are intellectually deficient. Their cheap shots and manipulation or misinterpretation of my words for political gain is disappointing, but unsurprising.
But that’s all in the past, and while each of those experiences makes for a great story (Hey, did you hear about the time Bob Bennett’s son Jim, standing in for his father, attacked Mike in a debate by saying that one of his supporters wasn’t a fan of Abraham Lincoln?), the goal has been accomplished. Mike Lee has secured the Republican nomination.
What now? I’m no longer on Mike’s staff, and the responsibilities that were mine for half a year have been transitioned to others who are equally capable. Sam Granato stands no chance, though I do look forward to the debates, mostly because I hope to see Scott Bradley (Constitution Party) included. His presence will improve the dialogue and will prevent the debates from degrading into Republican/Democrat talking point banter.
I’ve told several people in recent weeks that I have been considering voting for Bradley in the general election, even if Mike won the GOP nomination. While Mike and I agree on many things, we do disagree on several issues. If Scott Bradley is more closely aligned to the positions I adhere to, then I quite likely will vote for him. I’ve been so involved in Mike’s campaign, though, that I have yet to do my due diligence with Scott on some of the issues I’m concerned about. I have emailed him a list of questions, and based on his responses, I’ll firm up my decision on whether to vote for Mike or Scott come November.
Should I lean towards Scott, though, it should not be construed as a vote against Mike. Between he and Scott, my vote will be what I perceive to be the greater of two goods, rather than the standard “lesser of two evils” to which most Americans have become accustomed. Living where I do, I realize that as the Republican candidate, Mike is sure to win the general election, and become Utah’s junior Senator. As such, I have the comfort of considering a third party candidate while remaining confident that the half of a year I’ve spent tirelessly working to get Mike the Republican nomination will not be for nothing. If and when Mike becomes Senator Lee, and though I disagree with him on some issues I find important, I will be happy knowing that an establishment incumbent with a substandard voting record has been replaced with an individual who understands and has committed to adhering to the Constitution—a document which every congressman takes and oath to support and defend, but far too few actually do.
In the past few weeks, I increasingly doubted Mike’s chances of winning, though I continued to support him and contribute whatever I could. The Energy Solutions and KNRS conspiracy theories concocted by Cherilyn Eagar and Bob Lonsberry in the past couple of weeks, and embraced by Tim Bridgewater’s campaign, surely damaged Tim’s chances. Endorsements and “get out the vote” assistance from like-minded organizations helped mobilize voters supportive of Mike’s platform. In the end, and despite various polls showing one candidate up over another (and vice versa), the abysmal few voters who showed up to participate in the primary election have spoken on behalf of themselves and their peers, and have determined that Mike Lee will, barring some calamitous controversy, become our next U.S. Senator.
Senator Mike Lee from Utah: change I can believe in.