What this is all about
As this experience winds down for Teri and I (with the outcome still to be decided), I've been at it long enough to share my answers to the two most common questions I've been asked. Neither has anything to do with the important issues this nation faces. The first question is, "Why did you do this"? The second is, "Do you really think you have a chance of winning"?
Let's start with the first question.
Doug Wright asked me the "why did you do this?" question on the air in October. The answer was only partly joking: "If you can name a good psychiatrist, maybe between the two of us we can discover the answer to that". I have never done anything this difficult. I am a shy person at heart, and the type of activities we've been involved in - calling people begging for money, canvassing (To my new friend Julie Rose; I hated tracting just as much as you did), going on radio and television to debate ideas with a remarkably knowledgeable and articulate Congressman - these are not the type of activities I would choose for light recreation. In addition to the time and financial commitment, the stress level is something no one can understand unless they've experienced it.
I guess it boils down to my love of teaching - when the subject matter is one I'm passionate about. When I claim that "most Utahns are Democrats but just don't know it yet", I'm not talking about the caricature of us that exists even among ourselves. The average Utahn is not a Sean Hannity-worshipping, liberal hating, supply-side ideologue that believes Republican litany like they believe in the Scriptures. No, the average Utahn is a father or mother with kids, soccer games, piano and dance lessons, bills to be paid, and volunteer responsibilities that keeps them pretty busy. They are good citizens and believe in America. Most of them vote. But the propaganda out there is so deafening that it's hard for them to get past the stereotypes of what Utah Democrats are.
So many of these good, honest people go into the voting booth thinking that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for baby killers, loose morals, the destruction of marriage, the abandoning of America to terrorists, and a general outbreak of Iron Poor Blood. It takes a great deal of time and effort to break through this propaganda, and many of these good citizens don't have much time. Someone needs to speak the truth, even if it can be barely heard amid the cacophony of the Right. As difficult as this adventure has been, it's been an honor to speak for the many wonderful Utah Democrats I've been privileged to meet the last year.
That takes me to the answer to the second question: Do you have a chance of winning? The answer to that is easy. Even though it's a week until the election, I can say with certainty: I've already won.
When my new (and future lifelong) friend Wayne Holland asked me to do this, the request was specific. He asked me to be one of your messengers. I have worked my hardest to do that. Subsequent events have shown that we have succeeded far beyond my wildest dreams. We have dozens of stories of people who have read our humble little booklet and have responded with enthusiasm. The responses vary, but the general tone has been: Wow. No one has ever explained it this way before. That's really me. I'm going to vote for Democrats this year.
From a more personal note, it has been very humbling for me, the new guy in the party, to have so many of you, who have endured campaign season after campaign season with only the occasional electoral success, express your heartfelt friendship and appreciation for my humble efforts. You are the true heroes. I'm amazed at your continued optimism and enthusiasm. I'm amazed at your work ethic. You are some of Utah's most patriotic citizens. The phrase "you're a Great American" makes me gag when I hear it on KSL between 1 and 4 pm on weekdays, but the phrase applies to the wonderful rank and file Democrats I've had the privilege to meet the last nine months. Thanks so much for your kindness and friendship.
So in the final analysis, what is it that makes us all Democrats? The "15 Democrats Rule" is still true; if you have 15 Democrats in a room, you'll have 15 different opinions on any subject. Maybe the best litmus test is the following quote from Garrison Keillor:
"You don't encourage invention and ambition by giving a quarter-million dollar tax cut to a $15 million a year man. Give the bus driver's bright child a chance to get a great education. That's an investment."
If your focus is on the bus driver's child and not on the tax cut, you're a Democrat.