Although it is hard to find "diamond in the rough" candidates from such emails, Taz Murray, our most voluminous writer, made my job of being an informed voter much easier with these two emails, which I have posted below. For someone like me, who had never heard of either candidate until recently, it was especially helpful, and helped begin forming my opinion before I attended the debate a couple of weeks ago, which I will also write about in the post. For now, here is what I found unimpressive about these two emails:
Unimpressive email #1
No Child Left Behind
I will admit that I know very little about how to improve our education system. My gut feeling is that NCLB punishes schools for failing to achieve unrealistic standards, and that we could do much better than that, but you won't see me unveiling a more efficient educational master plan any time soon. Education reform is a complicated subject that I won't go into deeply until I feel like I actually know something about it.
Still, I am a strong supporter of logic, something that Murray's email is severely lacking. Utah falling from 38th place to 41st place is not credible evidence against NCLB's effectiveness. NCLB, whatever you believe it was, either helped all states or hurt all states, which would not have had any influence on Utah's ranking among those states.
Utah: The best and the worst state?
You could tell me that Utah is the very worst state in terms of educational outcomes, or the very best, and I wouldn't know where to find evidence to prove you wrong either way. I am certain, however, that it is not both. I find it rather peculiar that Murray talks about how Utah is falling behind educationally, and then in the same breath, says that despite lower per-capita spending, it has some of the best educational outcomes. Whatever his plans are for "education reform," I don't think he can implement effective reforms until he has his diagnosis correct, which apparently is unlikely to happen.
Unimpressive email #2
I must commend him for his honesty in this one. He immediately declares his conflict of interest, that he owns a candy business. Still, merely acknowledging that "childhood obesity is a serious issue" is a far cry from solving it. While there are many things the private sector does quite well, there are other things that the government does better. Drawing an appropriate analogy, I believe that in our society, we tend to over-medicate, resulting in worse health and higher costs. Also, I would hope that every physician has an appreciation for all of the marvelous things the human body does on its own if given proper nutrition, rest, and exercise. Still, if I get cancer, and my doctor tells me to eat better, exercise more, and let my body take care of the problem, I'm finding a new doctor.
In the case of rising obesity, I am certain that there is room for debate for what the government should do to efficiently and effectively combat this. Still, whatever the government is currently doing to combat obesity is, I am sure, much better than whatever our candy-business owner would propose.
Besides, a state legislator has no clout in this matter anyway.
This was the only debate I attended. I Wish I had more time to write about this before I go, but I think that the exchange between Murray and the moderator at 53 mins. is telling. In a debate, most of the time candidates can make up whatever statistics they choose, and nobody ever calls them out on it. This debate was particularly vulnerable to such fiction, since there will be no Democratic candidate to face. Utah "Democrats" are very different from national Democrats, and if Republican candidates don't even have to think about Utah "Democrats", then I think that gives all of us very real reason to fear what sort of kooks the primary cooks up.
Anyway, I was very pleased to see the moderator politely interject with actual statistics, refuting Murray's claim that Utah's government was growing too fast. Murray was quick to insist that his fictitious statistics were in fact true. As I watched, I could see the cogs turning in the moderator's head. If he insisted that his statistics were correct, he would look like he was taking sides in the debate, which he isn't supposed to do. On the other hand, could he allow a false statistic to govern the debate?
It appears that Murray has the skill - invaluable to being elected - of insisting that you are right and you know everything. He may not have the skill of listening to others, which is absolutely necessary in governing effectively.
I wish that I could write more, but I really have to go. I can't say much about Stratton except that he hasn't said or written anything super crazy, and seems like a good guy.