Two years ago, I attended a town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart in St. George.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and a sincere constituent prayer ending with the words, “in Jesus' name, Amen,” Stewart began to speak. He started bemoaning Democrat Nancy Pelosi, denounced her refusal to consider Republican proposals, darkly suggesting she was sanctioning the murder of babies. He then told us about his private dinners with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and spoke of his allegiance to her father.
He scoffed at concerns about the environment as “overblown.” Then he turned to his repeated efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, aiming to take insured access to care from 23 million Americans and putting at risk insurance coverage for 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions, all this while never suggesting any meaningful alternative.
When he finally stopped, the room was tense. Some were gasping about baby-killing Democrats and others were straight-faced with arms folded and silent. Then, with an innocent look on his face, Stewart asked for questions. What followed was chaotic. Throughout, I saw in Stewart little interest in listening to what his constituents thought, and certainly not alternative views. I saw no curiosity, only a grim determination to polarize.
Ironically, Stewart returned to St. George again this Sept. 3, to obsess about the evils of socialism while ignoring trillions spent for corporate socialism and Republican oligarchs.
My voting method has always been to choose the person, asking myself, what are his or her unspoken motives? What lies at the core of their character? This year I’ve turned to an assessment of Stewart’s challenger, Kael Weston, a multigenerational Utahn.
I’ve read his book, “The Mirror Test — America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan” about his seven years of service there as a diplomat in the difficult role of seeking peaceful solutions while frankly expressing what he learned. I’ve listened to him talk and answer questions for two hours on health care and education. In none of these encounters did I hear one inflammatory word. He was transparent about his motives and goals and openhearted when listening and responding to questions.
From this experience I can say that when it comes to difficult problem-solving, Chris Stewart and Kael Weston are polar opposites. Stewart clings to a fear-based and rigid worldview, representing exclusively one side of a divided America. Weston is open, honest, humble and willing to be in calm conversation about any problem with anyone to explore what might be the best options.
All you have to do is to take a look at his campaign logo with a blue hand and a red hand each holding the other’s forearm and you will see the essence of Kael Weston, what he cares about, and his down to earth, realistic and practical ways.
For example, Kael’s ultimate goal is health care for all Americans. At the same time he is open to how we get there. For those who want it, private work-related coverage is fine. Perhaps the Medicare age requirement could be reduced to 60 or 55. And maybe a public option would be helpful for those who fall through the cracks. His point is to be constructive and actually make progress while not forcing anyone into a plan they don’t want.
Even without COVID-19, every month thousands of Americans are dying because they cannot pay for needed care. For decades, every month tens of thousands of Americans are filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills they cannot pay. We need a representative in congress who feels the urgency to make a difference.
The great spiritual and wisdom traditions of the world honor the golden rule, to treat others as you would wish to be treated or to treat others with compassion. The Christian tradition includes the admonition to “love one another.” This kind and caring motivation is the essence I see at the core of Kael Weston’s approach to politics.
He wants to do the right thing. He’s open to all sides and seeks to do it in a creative, practical and uniquely American way.
His website is westonforcongress.com.
Rodney Dueck, Ivins, is a retired physician and health care system director.