Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An Endorsement of Tim Bridgewater for Senate

I have already voted. I intend to be high in the mountains of Wyoming on the 22nd of June, so I cast my early vote at the local library last week. I came to my decision on whom to vote for in the Senate race after long and careful consideration.

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I was the state delegate for my precinct. Around the Easter Break I attended many meetings, debates, and one-on-ones with the candidates. I found all of them promising. I was even impressed with Mr. Cook, who I have long considered a bit of a loon. After asking and receiving many answers to my personally extended questions, I decided that the very best choice for Senator from the state of Utah would be Bob Bennett. His answers to questions, his grasp of reality, and his demonstrated determination to defend Utah and its values cemented my decision. However it was not to be.

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Tim Bridgewater presents the next best alternative. I was impressed with his answers to my questions, his focus on reality and his determination to do what needs to be done.

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NOTES ON MEETINGS WITH TIM BRIDGEWATER

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His commitment to cut back on federal government control of education was encouraging and seemed practical and doable.

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His desire to prevent the federal government from locking up Utah’s recourses is promising. He was able to present the economic advantages to education and the states general economy as well as present practical experience in developing such resources. He will be a determined opponent of Cap and Trade.

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His plan to stop government growth and end over taxation in order to protect the free market appears to me to be a real world solutions to the problems we face in the Obama Nation.

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On the war on terror he was determined to win. I do not see any other alternative.

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In listening to Mr. Bridgewater I was impressed that I was hearing a man who has actually dealt with difficult problems in the real world and knows that their answers must be complex and require sacrifice and courage. I found him down to earth and genuine.

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I suggest that readers here in the Agora go to his website and read his positions.

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Among the five candidates I directly questioned, only one made me nervous, Mike Lee. I met with him in a crowded mansion on the east side of Layton. I arrived early, it is my nature, and was able to sit about five feet away from him during his speech and the subsequent question and answer time. Because I found his answers troubling I will try to present them in careful detail.

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NOTES ON MY MEETING WITH MIKE LEE

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Following an introduction by a spokesman – relating Mr. Lee’s father’s credentials and stressing Mr. Lee’s own accomplishments including his service as Gov Huntsman’s chief council and service as Law Clerk for Justice Alito – Mr. Lee presented an opening statement of about ten minutes length. He claimed that his answer to America’s problems would be a “policy approach

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His solution to the ills of America was to “refocus Congress”. He claimed he wanted to take Congress back to a “limited purpose government”. He claimed that Congress had abrogated its duty to pass only constitutional laws to the judgment of the Supreme Court. That all a lawyer needs to do is count to five, a majority in the Supreme Court. He referenced the “commerce clause” and relevant Supreme Court rulings that allowed Congress to pass anything that linked a law to the court’s interpretation of commerce. He proposed four steps to bring about reform of Congress:

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1. Restore constitutional debate. He seemed to feel that if he voted no against any law that was “in his opinion” not in agreement with the Constitution it would force the Senate to follow the Constitution.

2. End the era of deficit spending. He claimed he would call for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and to limit government expenditures to a set percent of the GDP.

3. Reform the tax system: He condemned the present “progressive tax system”; pointing out that 40% of Americans pay 97% of the taxes. He called for a “fair tax”, which he indicated would be a national sales tax. He claimed that this was better than a flat tax because it was easier and cheaper to administer, being done through millions of “stores” rather than hundreds of millions of “taxpayers”. Later, under questioning, he did admit that in order to change to a national sales tax the 16th amendment would have to be repealed.

4. Term limits – 12 years for all congressmen, two terms of Senators, six for Representatives put in place by a constitutional amendment.

After his presentation, I asked how he could claim to be a supporter of the Constitution and yet call for two amendments, balanced budget and term limits, in his four proposals to bring Congress to his program. Another attendee pointed out that the repeal of the 16th amendment would make that three out of four proposals calling for constitutional amendments. Mr. Lee admitted that bringing about three amendments to the Constitution would be difficult. Here he discussed the danger of a convention and was eager to keep the amendments in Congress and the State Legislatures away from a second constitutional convention.

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Mr. Lee did face some challenge from the crowd on the fact that he is a lawyer.

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I had a list of items I wished Mr. Lee to address. As there were many others also eager to question him and a limited time, he did not get to all of them. Here are answers he gave to me or to others on:

1. Earmarking – he was very adamant in his position that earmarking was wrong. There was an attendee who shared this position and presented a rather lengthy statement against earmarking to which Mr. Lee gave support. I asked if Mr. Lee was willing to turn the allocation of funds entirely over to the executive branch. To this he replied that the kind of earmarks he was against were those that allocated money to specific states or specific companies. I did not get a chance to ask him about the Ares program. He said his “plan” would call for a one year moratoria on all earmarks and then a system which would require all earmarks to be done openly, presented seven days before any law containing them could be passed, and if any one Senator objected to the allocation there would need to be a 60 vote majority to pass the bill containing it. He did not say how he would impose these rules on the Senate.

2. Afghanistan and the War on Terror: I was able to ask Mr. Lee about the war in Afghanistan and his, “win the war but don’t do nation building policy”. I asked him if he would have left Germany and Japan to the Communists after WWII. He then gave his position, which is that the US should take out military targets then get out. He told a story of someone he knew having a family member who had been recently blinded in Afghanistan while delivering supplies to an orphanage. When I asked Mr. Lee if the fact that American soldiers are still being attacked doesn’t indicate that there was still a military target in Afghanistan that needed to be taken out, Mr. Lee implied that such attacks were America’s fault by occupying the country and making the people angry. He maintained that he was not for cut-and-run but wanted to deal with only clear and present threats and then bring the troops home. Someone demanded if he thought that it was wrong for the US to have liberated Iraq and Afghanistan and if he would now leave a power vacuum in these countries which would be filled by enemies of America. He said we needed to stay as long as was necessary but not if “it” continued to endanger our troops and cost us money to set up an empire. (In my opinion Mr. Lee was stating a cut and run philosophy, for economic reasons and as an appeal to the obvious war weariness of many Americans. He, of course, never said cut and run – but it became obvious to me that he has not thought beyond immediate economic and political gains.) One attendee called out a question on removing our troops from Germany and Japan. Mr. Lee said we (the US) should withdraw our troops from all foreign bases. I quipped that perhaps we could make some money by selling them to the Russians.

3. Success of TARP– Mr. Lee did not address TARP.

4. Immigration – Here I think Mr. Lee did a very good job. He said the US needed to enforce existing laws. If employers of illegal immigrants were fined or sent to jail then there would be no jobs and illegal immigrants would go back to their own countries. He went on to say if they were denied all welfare benefits they would have no incentive for staying in the US and many would leave. When asked about “anchor babies” he referenced the first lines of the 14th amendment, and said it would be open to a more correct interpretation. He further said that the US was not required to give benefits to the parents or extended families of American Citizens and that if denied such benefits they would take their anchor babies and leave the country.

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There were other issues which Mr. Lee did not have time to address. There was no discussion on Health Care or Cape and Trade, as the host came forward and ended the questions time.

Summary: Mr. Lee seems to me to be brighter and broader than Mr. Cook with whom I had met earlier in the day. I did not find him as likable. I feel that many in the room, who were not already committed to his effort, were somewhat put off by a tinge of overconfidence, if not of arrogance. I was very impressed with his intellect and ability to think under pressure, but I felt his answers were shallow and overly idealistic, talking points and sound bites. He constantly appealed to the wonders of the Constitution but gave few details, beyond constitutional amendments, to achieving his lofty goals.

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Note: I did find it a bit offensive when Mr. Lee implied that he was unique in having an interest in the Constitution from childhood. His often retold claim that he talked “state’s rights” over the dinner table with his dad, while the rest of us were supposedly talking baseball, shows his lack of understanding about what goes on around many dinner tables throughout this country.

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IN CONCLUSION

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I find Mr. Lee’s supporters rather zealous. I think they see in him, and he has cultivated this image, a cult leader as much as a senator. I have heard of the supposed morphing picture of Mr. Lee that changes itself into Joseph Smith as you watch it on the computer. I do not believe that he would be silly enough to put this image up, but do not doubt that some of his followers envision just such a role for their leader. This dose not mean that I will not actively support him should he win the nomination. I am sure that some time in Washington will bring some reality to his dreams; however, I would prefer to start off with someone who is already grounded in the real world.

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I find Mr. Bridgewater much more down to earth and practical. I note that Senator Bennett and former senatorial candidate Cherilyn Eager, with whom I was also impressed, have given their support to Mr. Bridgewater. For what it is worth, I add my support, and my vote, to theirs.

2 comments:

Reach Upward said...

Thanks for the info. I too have already voted. But the details are nice to have.

constantia said...

thanks for the overview. I also like Bridgewater. Still, it was good to hear more about all the candidates.