Category Archives: Elections

Provo’s Primary Election 2021

Provo, like other Utahn cities, is hosting its biennial primary election this August 10th (Tuesday), and we urge all liberty-lovin’ Provoans to please participate. Please strive to empower ONLY virtuous wise statespeople who will consistently defend our rightful liberty under Constitutional law rather than aggress against it.

Why bother with municipal elections? Local elections should ideally be our society’s most important elections. This is because political authority should ideally remain as decentralized as possible, with individuals remaining sovereign with respect to their fellow mortals, and individual households (as any society’s most basic political unit) retaining maximal authority for themselves, while contractually delegating minimal authority to larger jurisdictions to serve (not rule) the smaller jurisdictions within themselves, with their services limited almost exclusively to rights-defense. According to these principles, proper political systems should maintain an authority-structure that resembles an upside-down pyramid, in which authority is concentrated toward its massive top, from whence largely-self-governing people rule over the rest of it. Local offices sometimes serve as starting-points for political careers, and it’s important to screen-out unworthy candidates (like John Curtis as explained extensively our website) early before they gain significant influence and wealth and power.

Along with undervaluing the importance of local elections, too many American voters (including Provoans) also neglect to involve themselves in elections until Election Day, which comes after nearly all decisions about candidates have already been settled. By engaging in such procrastination, liberty-lovin’ voters essentially abdicate nominations to their statist adversaries, which is because politics naturally attracts corrupt cunning statists more readily than virtuous wise statespeople, who must be actively sought and encouraged to campaign. And this problem applies to both major American political parties, which have always been “big tents” that attract a wide variety of factions. In short, we who cherish our freedom should never assume that our fellow partisans share our values, nor should we depend upon them to nominate worthy candidates without our help.

This is true even in Provo with its high concentration of conservative voters, where political homogeneity has excused political complacency. Only maybe 10%-15% of Provoans normally participate in municipal elections, and over half of those voters seemingly favor candidates who uphold higher taxes and fees, multiplied city code, increased central planning, and insufficient respect for others’ equal God-given (or natural) rights, as detailed on our website. Such wanton statism has remained Provo’s sad status quo for at least 2 decades, as liberty-lovin’ candidates haven’t often sought municipal office and, whenever they’ve done so, they’ve been routinely defeated by their statist alternatives. Such statist victories have sometimes been incredibly slim, as even a dozen votes might have reversed them. Where were YOU then?

YOU have the power to help improve this sad status quo by participating in Provo’s biennial municipal elections, including its primary elections! And, since you can only do so much as one person, you can do more by multiplying your effects by helping your like-minded neighbors to do likewise. This may involve instilling their hearts with a passion for rightful liberty under Constitutional law, educating their minds about its principles, informing them how those timeless universal principles relate to current municipal politics, and organizing them for lasting political victory.

Political victory ideally begins by identifying worthy neighbors and then encouraging them to run. Sadly, it’s too late for anyone to enter this year’s election, but we can still examine our existing options, eliminate unworthy choices, and select the best options from among any that remain. As for judging worthiness, both personal virtue (especially honesty) and political wisdom are paramount (and normally don’t improve significantly in office), experience is a valuable added bonus but can always be gained, records are far more reliable than rhetoric, both partisan affiliations and labels don’t necessarily mean very much, and outward appearance is frivolous. As for who needs evaluation this year, Provoans are electing a mayor plus three new city councilors (one city-wide and two from city districts). Below are some initial impressions about each current candidate for each of these municipal offices.

  • For mayor, Michelle Kaufusi (the incumbent) represents the sad statist status quo described above, Neil Mitchell seems highly competent but shows no indications of changing the status quo, Caleb Reeve seems like a political-outsider centrist with some libertarianish leanings but perhaps not enough, M David Gedo Sanchez has expressed some concerns about big government and may be a good option, and Ken Dudley is saying many things right and therefore may also be a good option.
  • For city councilor (city-wide), Aaron Skabelund is very competent and civic-minded but strongly leans liberal, neither Katrice MacKay nor Landon Johnson seem to favor the principles of both limited government and individual rights, Tom Sitake has disclosed little about himself so far, and Hoc Vu is the only candidate who is expressing the right principles consistently.
  • For city councilor in district 2, Dave Handley (the incumbent) represents the status quo and currently runs unchallenged.
  • For city councilor in district 5, both Coy Porter and Rachel Whipple seem poised to perpetuate the status quo of both central planning and sustainable development, and Zac Green does not seem significantly better.

So, we encourage further investigation into David Sanchez, Ken Dudley, and Hoc Vu as possibly-worthy candidates who may merit endorsement, donations, and votes. Please scrutinize their principles pertaining to God-given (or natural) rights, free speech versus censorship, gun rights versus gun control, both property rights and contractual rights, free markets versus central economic planning (including zoning), so-called sustainable development with so-called smart growth, Valley Visioning, privatization versus city-run businesses, borrow-and-tax-and-spend policies, efforts to militarize and nationalize and dumb-down our local police officers, et cetera, all of which are featured on this website. And please pose such questions to the other candidates, as well. And please share their answers with anyone who would benefit from knowing them, including as a comment below, if you wouldn’t mind. Whereas ignorance invites tyranny/slavery, a well-educated well-informed citizenry is essential for self-government.

We can do far better than we’re presently doing, and we need to do far better in order to reverse Provo’s slow political degeneracy. If you want to enjoy a greater selection of worthy candidates in 2023, then please commit yourself over these next two years to slowly-but-steadily find them (or become them), encourage them to campaign, and build support for them among your neighbors. If you find our website helpful for this purpose, then please feel free to use it. Thanks!


References:

Provo Municipal Elections and Voting System Reform

American elections, since their inception, have used plurality (or “first-past-the-post”) voting as their standard, but we should reconsider this default.

Plurality voting naturally encourages all political parties to consolidate into two major ones of roughly equal strength, which means that it renders a bipartisan duopoly nearly inevitable. America’s founders rightly worried about the rise of two major political parties that would alternately dominate our political system, and they warned us about this eventuality, although they apparently didn’t realize then that plurality voting would render this development almost inevitable.

Plurality voting also facilitates an array of other election problems like strategic voting (including voting against unworthy candidates rather than for worthy candidates), along with the “spoiler effect,” the possibility of minority rule, and increased susceptibility to gerrymandering. The “spoiler effect” is especially egregious, as it can incentivize citizens to vote against their true preferences, while punishing conscientious voters who ignore such pressure with worse results. This should ideally never happen.

The only way to alleviate these many problems is through reforming elections to use better voting methods.

Ranked-choice voting (which is also called instant-runoff voting) is a popular alternative to plurality voting in which voters rank their respective choices from first to last, after which the least-favored candidates are eliminated through multiple rounds of vote-tallying until one candidate prevails with majority support. This voting system is already a longstanding standard in political conventions. Ranked-choice voting replaces the “spoiler effect” with a milder “center-squeeze effect” that hurts centrist candidates, but it still promotes a bipartisan duopoly and it still allows gerrymandering.

Score voting alleviates these electoral problems even better (except for a negligible “chicken dilemma”) than ranked-choice voting. Score voting involves voters ranking each candidate on a scale (like 0-9 or 1-100), rather like schools grade students, such that the candidate who earns the highest average score wins. Score voting allows third parties (like the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Independent American Party) to thrive, which is perhaps its greatest benefit. One study indicates that score voting minimizes Bayesian regret, meaning that its results are (statistically) more satisfying than either plurality voting or ranked-choice voting.

Approval voting is the simplest form of score voting, as voter rank each candidate as either acceptable or not, such that the most-widely-accepted candidate wins. Approval voting can use existing plurality ballots, which is an advantage. Approval voting may also operate in tandem with proportional representation, which allows multiple winners in proportion to their degree of approval, which divides political power among a greater diversity of factions. And mitigating the effects of factions is a worthy goal, as America’s founders noted.

Provo’s city council is considering transitioning its municipal elections from plurality voting to ranked-choice voting. Provo’s Open City Hall is currently surveying Provoans about this matter, and Provo’s city council will vote on it in May. I’m surprised that this proposed reform is enjoying support from some corrupt Establishment politicians, so I’m feeling a bit suspicious about it—so, if you have any theories about why they may favor it, then please share them. In the absence of clear reasons otherwise, though, please consider supporting such election reform, perhaps as an initial step toward something even better like score voting.

Even more importantly than improving voting systems, though, is ensuring that our elections remain both honest and accurate. Please consider lobbying your state and federal legislators regularly for election reforms (like these) that will restore election integrity—and please do so until they finally relent!



References:

Please Vote Against Utah Ballot Proposition 9

Although the 2020 general election will choose both federal and state officers, rather than local officers, this year’s ballot still includes an issue of pressing local concern, which is ballot proposition 9. Proposition 9, if enacted, would expand Utah County’s current county commission from 3 commissioners (currently Nathan Ivie and Tanner Ainge and Bill Lee) to 5 councilors plus a mayor.

This proposition is being sold primarily on the basis that it would separate our county commission’s legislative and executive powers from each other. This reasoning may sound great to Utahn patriots on the surface, but such executive power is already separated, and (moreover) dispersed among seven separately-elected county officers, which include county attorney, county sheriff, county clerk/auditor, county treasurer, county assessor, county surveyor, and county recorder. So, what’s the real reason for this proposed reorganization of our Utah County commission?

To uncover the real reason, it may help to consider the source. This reorganization was instigated recently by county commissioner Nathan Ivie, who (with support from fellow commissioner Tanner Ainge) has consistently voted for both higher taxes and increased central economic planning. And it has also coincided with efforts by Envision Utah to devise a grandiose central plan for Utah County, including where new residents will live, what sort of homes they will own, how they will landscape their yards, et cetera. And it’s arguably more than coincidence that such developments are occurring simultaneously.

These facts together suggest that Proposition 9 is (in reality) likely an effort to unjustly expand our county government to shoulder greater responsibilities (as recommended to it by Envision Utah) that will violate our equal God-given (or natural) rights, including our rights to both property and contract. If our county commission were to respect our rightful liberty as fully as it should, then it would lack any need to expand. Especially considering that the Utah County commission oversees only unincorporated land, which has shrunk over time. With ever-less land within their jurisdiction, why needlessly multiply the officers involved?

This expansion’s opponents include county commissioner Bill Lee, who has heroically stood firmly against Ivie’s and Ainge’s tax hikes and such, but without much success as a minority of one. Lee is warning that Salt Lake County endured a similar reorganization about 20 years ago that resulted in higher taxes, bigger government, and an all-too-powerful mayor. Lee also notes that Utah County’s proposed reorganization would likewise consolidate the executive power currently wielded by seven separate officers into a single kinglike county mayor who would likely usurp legislative power from the county council. We would do well to heed his warnings. And to reelect him.

So, please vote against ballot proposition 9. We don’t need to expand our county government to more-effectively violate our equal God-given (or natural) rights to property and contract and such.


References:

Provo’s City Council Starts 2020

Provo’s city council recently met (with 4 of 7 members replaced) for its first time in 2020 to consider its current projects. This partly involved considering input from Envision Utah about county-level central economic planning (as detailed in our previous two blog entries), which we shouldn’t be surprised if they cooperate in implementing.

Councilman Handley seemingly learned (as should the rest of us) that, although Utahns remain relatively unconcerned about climate change, which environmentalists are using to excuse collectivistic policies, politicians’ appeals to local concerns about “water” and “air quality” may be used to achieve similar outcomes. So, please remember such tactics when considering proposed changes to city code.

Councilman Handley’s interest in radical environmentalism, along with councilwoman Ellsworth’s interest in identity politics, suggest that they harbor rather collectivistic political views. Which is interesting, considering that they represent one of America’s most conservative cities. But it shouldn’t be surprising, considering Provo’s municipal policies for the last two decades or more.

If we want more city policies that actually favor rightful liberty under Constitutional law, then we need to elect better municipal officers. Thankfully, we have two years until our next city elections to alert our neighbors and build our ranks. Please make good use of that time and, if our website helps, then please use it. Thank you.


References:

 

Utah County in Transition

Although this site focuses primarily on Provo’s political issues, we are definitely affected by politics at all levels, including the county level. And our Utah County government, over this last year or so, has been enduring three major trends that arguably merit the scrutiny of all Provoans who value their rightful liberty.

Firstly, some politicians are currently seeking to reorganize Utah County’s government from a simple three-person commission into something more complex. Proponents of this reorganization like commissioner Nathan Ivie (who spearheaded this process) have repeatedly asserted that it will allow effective separation of our county government’s legislative and executive functions, which is very sound in principle—but others like commissioner Bill Lee have expressed deep concerns about the details of the proposals that his fellow commissioners have embraced for reorganization, which he asserts could allow both ever-higher taxes and ever-more regulations, as has become characteristic of Salt Lake County. This is a very interesting observation, considering the other two trends that we’re about to highlight.

Secondly, our current county commission (by a 2-to-1 vote) has just raised county-level property tax rates by an astounding 67%. We applaud commissioner Bill Lee, who voted firmly against this needless tax hike and is now trying to rally opposition to it, but we feel severely disappointed with his fellow commissioners Ainge and Ivie, who apparently favor us spending even more of our hard-earned money on being told what to do. This huge tax increase may render a newly-expanded county government awash in cash to spend on new responsibilities.

Thirdly, new responsibilities are currently being contemplated by Envision Utah, which is seeking to lead Utah County (as it’s already done successfully with many other parts of Utah) away from its libertarianish past of both local control and free markets toward a statist future of regional central economic planning. Since late 2018, Envision Utah has studied public opinion, devised scenarios, and evaluated options, in order to compose a common vision for Utah County’s future—a central plan that will dictate where everyone will live, what sort of homes they’ll live in, how they’ll landscape their yards, et cetera. It’s not guaranteed that a newly-reorganized Utah County government will ever arrogate such responsibilities or not—but it’s definitely more likely if we keep electing candidates like commissioner Ivie, who has already stated publicly that he welcomes a countywide central plan for economic development, partly to inhibit development from spreading into undeveloped areas. Such goals happen to be consistent with longtime socialist goals to regulate markets, reduce land ownership, and increase urbanization.

It may be more than coincidental that these three trends are occurring simultaneously. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once asserted that: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” In any case, we would do well to monitor these ongoing trends and encourage the best possible outcomes, lest we end up living under Soviet-style central planning, whether overseen by Commissar Nathan Ivie or perhaps someone even worse. We don’t need a county government that reigns over us in all things, but one that helps us to defend our rights against others’ aggression so that we may remain free. The plans of the many, negotiated among free equals, are normally superior to the plans of the few, dictated by political masters.

As Edmund Burke once noted, “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” So, please don’t do nothing. Instead, please shake off any apathy that impedes you, get educated and/or informed about these pressing issues, get active and organized, and help your neighbors to do likewise. And become the hero that our society needs. If our website helps, then use it. Ditto with these voluminous references below. And, if you do nothing else, then please sign commissioner Bill Lee’s Utah County Petition!


References: