As I’ve met with many of you over the past weeks and months, questions sometimes arise like this one: “What’s your agenda?” To which I invariably reply that I have no agenda beyond serving the people of this district with integrity and to the best of my abilities using the principles and values that many of us share–principles and values reflected in our party platform. It seems presumptuous to say “I plan to do X, Y, and Z,” when those plans must be shaped and molded with input from you–the voters.
On this site and in face-to-face discussions, my hope is that you get a clearer sense of who I am, and how I would represent you. That’s the whole idea behind “principle driven leadership.” I want you to know what principles animate me and to recognize in them ones that resonate with you personally. That does not mean that we will agree on every issue; rather, I trust that in most cases we’ll start from the same basic set of principles, and we will resolve issues and disagreements from there in a way that is informed and shaped by those principles.
Despite its relative strength, our State faces daunting challenges. It’s hard not to feel like many of our most treasured social and cultural institutions–matters of faith and family–are under attack. The federal government feels broken and bankrupt, starved of new ideas and real solutions. In addition, we face a variety of practical challenges. Most experts believe that Utah’s population will more than double by 2050. How will we educate all those children? Build the necessary housing, roads, and other infrastructure to sustain their quality of life? Store and deliver the water? Grow the food? Generate the jobs? These problems can feel overwhelming.
Though we cannot know all the answers, we do have some idea of where to begin.
First, we must not pretend that new challenges mean we should abandon time-tested principles, or that human nature has somehow moved past ideas like federalism, the temptations of power, and the need for checks and balances that the Framers clearly understood when they drafted the Constitution. “[W]hat is government itself,” wrote James Madison in Federalist No. 51, “but the greatest of all reflections of human nature?” In many ways, the secret to solving today’s problems lies less in inventing new solutions than in remembering old ones.
Second, we cannot solve big problems by retreating to our respective corners or beating a drum for only our own small tribe to hear. These challenges warrant an “all hands on deck” approach that requires, first and foremost, a virtuous, informed, and engaged citizenry. If we look only to our elected officials for solutions, we look beyond the mark, because in so many instances the solutions to tough problems must start from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. The kind of problem solving I envision requires working together—expanding the congregation rather than merely preaching to the choir. To accomplish that, we need to remember to be civil and respectful, even to those with whom we may have serious philosophical or political differences.
Third, we need to rediscover the kind of courage and determination that animated Utah’s pioneers. They had the vision to plan for the future while drawing on the lessons of the past. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that, working together, we as a People can accomplish great things, and overcome even the most daunting challenges. I hope you’ll join me in that effort.