My Legislative Lens

March 15, 2018 pjohnson 0 Comments

I wrote a blog post back in 2010 that explained how I would gauge my vote for candidates as a delegate.  You can read it here:  Orem 47 My Lens Post

I still try to follow the same guidelines today, even more so in some ways, which is partly why I’m running.  I’ve realized I can’t have issues with politics or politicians if don’t try to do my part and get involved.  I will adapt my lens to being a legislator here.

Convenience of Argument

I’ve learned a lot about this lens over the years, primarily because I catch myself using it all the time. I use it with my kids.  It doesn’t get much more convenient to simply say “because I said so” to them when asked about a request.  After visiting the capital and sitting in on some committee meetings and on the floor with Keith Grover, I can see that it’s pretty easy to fall back on the convenience of arguments as a legislator as well. If someone simply says the words “third grade illiteracy” or “jobs” or “transportation”, they all somehow lead to passing more bills for more funding or administration because if you don’t, you hate kids, want everyone unemployed, and wish people would ride bikes more.  Many government institutions have gotten so large that there is scarcely time to dig any deeper than just the common conveniences of “these are all good things”.  I’m not satisfied when I settle for convenient arguments when I use them, and I will not be satisfied to legislate with them either.  So, to get past the convenience of an argument, I will need this next lens.

What’s On the Periphery?

When arguments are so convenient, you need to peer around the bend quite a bit to see what’s really behind the issue, what’s on the periphery.

Third Grade Literacy

As an example, while sitting on the education committee I was able to listen to a new and revised bill concerning third grade literacy in Utah schools.  They used all the catch phrases that would sink any human heart to saying yes to just about anything that would improve the third grade literacy levels.  I get it.  I want those levels to be high as well.  The catch was, they instituted a program to do just that over ten years ago and budgeted around 20 million dollars for it.  Then the blot charts, the pie charts, and the chart of charts, all said that the literacy scores had not dramatically risen.  It seemed the answer was an easy one.  Let’s fund a different program and try it again.  One rep did chime in and lambast the state literacy organization for failing to improve the scores and claimed the program was just terrible.  He ended up voting for the new one though.  I know I wasn’t part of all the conversations had on this bill, but I heard nothing of accountability, nothing about what will happen if it doesn’t work this time, no discussion about what happened to the last 20 million dollars spent on this issue.  Those are going to be the tough questions to ask and demand answers to.  Those are the things on the periphery.  I intend to ask them and stay silent until an answer is given.

What Fire is in the Belly?

This was easier to apply to picking candidates to vote for than it is to apply to legislation.  It still has application but in a broader sense.  It will apply to those who are sponsoring the bill.  It will apply to the passion about what’s in the bill and why.  It will be the burning question in me about a bill’s ability to stand up as constitutional or as the proper role of government.

More important will be the fire in my own belly.  Compromising on my pride, not my principles.  Discover and maintain what it means to be humble in what can be heated and very polarizing environments where pride and opinions thrive.  Figuring out how to let the service of being a legislator help me become a better man.  Being a better man would mean doing things that would help others have the opportunity to be better as well and trusting them to choose that.  Allowing people to take on more responsibility for themselves, to be less reliant on government for things they can do on their own, etc.  But also providing safety nets for those who are stuck with the inability to choose a better path on their own and where the community itself would struggle to provide the same service.  It means holding public funds more sacrosanct and using them wisely.  It means becoming more learned about issues instead of simply going with popular opinion.

Read more about this part of my lens here:

Lens Cleaner

You, the delegates and the folks from LD61 are my lens cleaner.  You’re my Windex, my windshield wipers.  If I’m going to represent you and your “gut” you have to share it with me.  Tell me where you think I’m wrong, tell me if you think I’m right, and why.  House Seat 61 won’t be my seat, it will be yours.  It means participating in whatever meetings or events that will allow me to collaborate with you, report to you.




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