Tom Clyde: Anarchy on the kitchen countertop
My ballot came in the mail this week. It’s sitting there on the kitchen counter, right beside the toaster oven, waiting to bring democracy to an end by return mail with a verified signature. It doesn’t seem that threatening, but according to El Presidente, it’s a sinister force, lurking there with another offer to join the AARP and the power bill. Chaos, death and destruction in one envelope with a little raspberry jam spilled on it.
I’ve watched only a few minutes of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Never has so little been said in so many words coming out of so many high-priced mouths. The Republicans are fawning over her like the Virgin Mary. The Democrats are grinding away, trying to get her to say right out loud that she would reverse Roe v. Wade when the opportunity comes up, and that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. And the nominee, who is a smart and appealing person, deftly says nothing. Unlike Justice Kavanaugh, she hasn’t even admitted to liking beer. She says it would be unjudicial to decide these issues until all the evidence has been presented in an actual case before the court. You give things a fair trial before the hanging.
It’s not like anybody doesn’t know where she stands. She was appointed by Donald Trump. The only part of his administration that functions is the judicial appointment pipeline — and that’s because he has outsourced it to the Federalist Society. Nobody gets on their list of recommended judges who isn’t firmly in the pro-life camp. Nobody should be surprised by that.
The Democrats are outraged by the rush to fill the seat on the Supreme Court. It is completely inconsistent with the position taken by the Republicans in the last year of Obama’s term. They have reversed position without embarrassment. The Democrats would do exactly the same thing if they held the Senate. So a month of very high-priced talent will be wasted on the confirmation process. It would be refreshing to hear Judge Barrett come out and say, “Hell, yes, I’ll vote to reverse every decision old lady Ginsburg ever made. And since the Constitution never mentions electricity or cellphones, I’d throw out any legislation that deals with that, too.” Not a single vote would be changed by stating the obvious.
For 10 years, the Republicans have been saying they would repeal and replace Obamacare with something better. Trump says it will be “terrific.” So far they haven’t put forward even an outline of a plan. They don’t have one. They don’t think the feds have a role to play in health care. “Something better” means something that is left to the tender mercies of the private insurance market, which is how we got where we are. Congress could be working on that. Or they could be working on financial relief for people whose lives and businesses have been disrupted by the plague. But let’s spend a couple of weeks theatrically going through the motions on the court nomination that produces no useful information, and the outcome is already certain.
The only competitive race in Utah is the congressional seat where Ben McAdams is being challenged by Burgess Owens. The TV ad coverage on that race is disgusting. It’s nothing but competing ads from outside groups trying to convince us that McAdams is Jerry Fallwell’s pool boy and that Owens is a serial murderer. There really is no policy discussion in the campaign. Looking at the ads, the only conclusion is that the two worst people on earth want to represent Sandy in Congress. Maybe Sandy deserves that.
In our congressional district, there is a choice between that one guy who looks like a rookie appliance salesman at R.C. Willey and that other guy who doesn’t. The campaign has been so fiercely fought that I can’t come up with either one’s name. They are contesting the seat left open by Rob Bishop’s retirement. Those are some mighty small shoes to fill, but I’m not sure either is up to it.
I can’t imagine living in a state where the outcome of almost every race was close. We’re spared most of the ads in the presidential race, though I see them on satellite channels. This is a bad way to select leaders.
Still, it all matters. That subversive mail-in ballot, while not explosive, is powerful. I wish there were a way to stretch out the pleasure of voting against Trump. It takes so little time to color in the bubble, and then it’s done. I might savor the moment by driving the completed ballot to Coalville, even though there are collection locations closer — like my mailbox. There’s no reason to delay, and it will help the clerk’s office if they can match signatures and verify mail-in ballots earlier instead of doing it all on the last couple of days.
If only completing the ballot could shut off the noise.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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“If you want to understand quickly how we got here with democracy being threatened almost simultaneously around the globe,” writes columnist Teri Orr, “you need look no further than the palm of your hand.”