Soon after the Christmas season another arrives – the primary elections season. Like many fellow Utahns, I am tired of the failure of Washington politicians including my opponent, Sen. Mike Lee, who continuously fail to find solutions to the challenges facing Utah and the country.
To counter the politics of division, which Lee embodies, I will be pursuing the support of Republicans, Democrats, independents and third parties because I know there are plenty of each who want to put an end to the partisan chaos, unify around a set of common sense values, and solve problems – before it is too late.
The University of Virginia recently released the shocking results of an extensive poll on American politics. It revealed that 52% of Trump voters and 41% of Biden voters believe it’s time to start breaking up the United States of America along party lines.
The fact that so many Americans are even thinking about secession reflects just how dangerous intensifying political division is in our nation. The January 6 insurrection was a wakeup call. If we continue down this road, America as we know it will not endure indefinitely.
Unfortunately, the growing lack of faith in our government is not surprising considering the constant dysfunction in Washington. It makes it impossible to solve major challenges facing America and threatens the very institutions that protect our freedom.
Instead of improving things, Lee recently threatened another government shutdown rather than work with his colleagues to address a pandemic that has already killed more than 800,000 Americans. Once again, he didn’t accomplish a thing.
The solution is a simple but radical idea in today’s polarized politics. We must build on common ground – despite our many differences – to find lasting solutions to the problems our nation faces.
These include the prohibitive cost of health care, economic instability caused by inflation, an exploding national debt, poor air quality, a lack of water, a never-ending pandemic and threats to our democracy.
Cynical commentators and politicians, who benefit financially and otherwise from our division, dismiss the idea that we can agree on anything as pollyannaish or quixotic. What’s foolish is expecting solutions to our most serious challenges without changing our broken politics.
Even on the most divisive issues there is still significant common ground to build on, and it doesn’t require us to change our long-held positions.
For example, for years we’ve been debating how to pay for the prohibitive cost of quality health care, but there are plenty of broadly supported ways to decrease these underlying costs, including lowering drug costs, expanding telemedicine and improving patient choices.
Government spending is another controversial issue, especially with inflation higher than it has been in decades and the national debt approaching $30 trillion, about three times what it was when Lee entered office. But most agree that we’ve been spending too much for years and sensible approaches like lowering health care costs, getting Americans back to work and avoiding unnecessary wars is a good start.
We also have many differences on environmental issues, but most agree that protecting our air and water, both of which are severely at risk in Utah, must be a priority. Let’s start by improving western forest management, upgrading our water infrastructure, investing in clean technologies and encouraging job-friendly conservation in industry.
The Supreme Court has become another flashpoint as extremes attempt to politicize it in their favor, a trend that threatens to destroy the rule of law in America. Surely most can agree that we must now prioritize the confirmation of justices who are qualified and who impartially uphold the law, rather than those who pass partisan litmus tests.
Even on abortion, there is common ground. Some identify as pro-choice and others as pro-life, but no one I know is pro-abortion or in favor of hurting women and children. While the never-ending tug-of-war to change laws rages on, the number of abortions in America has been declining for years due to policies that support women, children and families. Rather than causing more division by changing laws or attacking each other’s beliefs, we should focus there.
Here in Utah, we find common ground in our shared humanity, ideals and future, and do our best to avoid the chaos caused by Washington’s broken politics.
So, over the coming months, I’ll be seeking the support of Utahns of all parties to replace Mike Lee in the U.S. Senate, but that’s just the beginning. For the survival of our great nation, we must change the old, broken politics of division that he embodies and build a new coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents to renew America. We can start right here in Utah, setting the example and leading the way for our entire nation.
I invite all to this vital work.
Evan McMullin is an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate from Utah.