Monday, April 2, 2018

Hello. I’m Alan Keele, a retired BYU Professor of German Studies, and a candidate for Utah House District 60 in South West Orem.

I’m a life-long Democrat for numerous good reasons. But I’ve added a new reason quite recently, which is, paradoxically, that it grieves me to see our Republican friends hopelessly locked in a death spiral of their own making. It’s the kind of death spiral which always follows in the wake of one-party rule. Because it favors the most extreme elements in society, one-party rule nearly inevitably leads – in the USA, no less than in Putin’s Russia or in Nazi Germany– first to corruption and then finally to utter calamity. It’s the reason Lord Acton could say that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Tragically, this death spiral created by our Republican friends is now clearly dragging the whole country and even the whole world down with them.

How did it come to this? Paradoxically, it’s because after the death of Lincoln, under the influence of growing numbers of anti-Lincoln extremists in its ranks, the Republican movement gradually shriveled into a small-tent minority party, insecure, outnumbered, racially and economically exclusive, intellectually vacuous, fundamentally fearful of honest interaction and fair competition with others: a fading zero-sum party, in other words, which fears that anyone else’s gain is at their expense.

So, under the influence of extremists, and by a whole series of nefarious machinations, our outnumbered Republican friends, frightened and desperate, began to subvert our fair and open political process for their own advantage in any number of sleazy ways:

1) for example by flagrantly gerrymandering voting districts to neutralize the advantage of other parties, thus allowing politicians to essentially pick their own voters.

2) by shamelessly suppressing free and open voting opportunities for minorities, for the disadvantaged, for the elderly, in short: for anyone extreme anti-Lincoln Republicans rightly suspect may not want to vote for their miserly and often downright kleptocratic policies.

3) by dog-whistle appeals to the basest emotions of their frightened followers, stoking fears of racial minorities, immigrants, gays, advocates for choice..., fears of having guns confiscated, portraying all these and many more as the most horrible evils in the history of the world and pinning them all on Democrats. (When I ran for this office once before, in 2010, my neighbor said, to my face: “I’d never vote for a Democrat: they are all baby killers!”)

4) by brazenly flaunting the Constitution to deny Merrick Garland a seat on the Supreme Court, for example, leaving the Court out of balance and still capable of making such outrageous decisions as

5) the infamous Citizens United fiasco, opening the floodgates to limitless dark money pouring from the extremist Koch Brothers (whose father helped found the John Birch Society), the Mercer family, and other ultra wealthy corporations, fundamentally corrupting our Democracy by destroying the very principle of “One Person, One Vote.”

6) once such an unfair imbalance, as we have here in Utah, is achieved, Republican insiders can then secretly choose their so-called “anointed candidates.” Once their names are safely on the ballot, the General Election becomes essentially a gigantic fraud on the voters, an empty gesture, just as Vladimir Putin was essentially the only choice in Russia recently.

7) Finally, this desperate and extreme Republican inferiority complex has led to that fatal “echo chamber effect” in which Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Shawn Hannity, Ann Coulter, and many other extreme propagandists, as well as a whole network of Russian media bots conspired together to create an alternative fantasy universe in which a psychopathic Narcissist, an empty-headed  pathological liar with the personal morals of a Caligula can become President of the United States, and a sitting senior US Senator from Utah can proclaim him “the greatest president ever!” (At least that’s what Trump claimed Hatch said: this is a universe which exists only down the rabbit hole of one-party delusional extremism...)

The key word in all this is extremism. In a well-balanced two-party system, as the LDS Church has officially argued, for example expressly through President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Marlin K. Jensen, there is a powerful incentive for both parties to compete for and appeal to more voters in the middle, rather than at the fringes.

In a well-balanced two-party system, moderate Republicans could be freed of their historical nemesis: unbridled right wing extremism, and Democrats would continue to be safe from that kind of 60's radicalism which some of us painfully recall from the Vietnam era. Moderates on both sides of the aisle would form – defacto –  something like a benign super majority of the middle, competing for votes not with more extreme and destructive ideas, but with ever better and constructive ideas about funding the best education system in the world, creating a world-class infrastructure, attracting reputable industries providing excellent jobs, overcoming gross fiscal inequities in tax structures, providing respectable and wholesome housing for every family, effectively combating deadly air pollution, making available cutting edge and affordable health-care for each child of god, ..., and lovingly welcoming all good people, our brothers and sisters, into our midst.

We cannot expect extreme anti-Lincoln Republicans, blinded and brainwashed by their own ideologies, to immediately abandon their downward death spiral, but a new large-tent majority consisting entirely of moderates: Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike, can resolve to right the badly listing ship of state. I believe the numbers of all these moderates add up to a majority. But we must end gerrymandering, we must allow and encourage all qualified voters to cast their votes, we must allow candidates to get their names on the ballots and compete in primary elections with the “anointed ones,” we must eliminate straight ticket voting, and generally strengthen the hand of moderation and good will in myriad ways in all aspects of the political arena. The impending and inevitable implosion of the Trump fraud will, it is expected and hoped, drive many Republicans back from the lunatic fringe to the reasonable middle of the political spectrum. I, for one, anticipate welcoming them with open arms.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Victories

There are different kinds of victories.

Some are indicated by the final score. This was not to be one of those. Not this time. In the world of quantitative scores, 27.88% is not considered a victory.

Nevertheless, on November 2, 2010, 1,878 voters in Orem’s District 60 did cast their ballots for Alan Keele. That’s a lot of voters.

And each one of those voters must have had compelling reasons not to follow the Utah County crowd by simply voting a straight R ticket.

If even one of those voters had a choice and a voice because of my candidacy, if even one voter had the satisfaction of knowing that he or she was able to make a statement about the need for more moderate voices to be heard here in Utah County, that was worth all the work and expense and trouble of my campaign.

We moderates were not born yesterday. This is Utah County. So these 1,877 other voters and I knew from the outset that most likely we would only be able to accomplish a little bit.

But we hoped that because of our voices the so-called “Anointed Ones” of the moonstruck fringe would now be a bit less secure in their supposed sinecures.

(Had they been entirely unopposed, had they gotten 100% of the votes, who can say that they would not have been encouraged to move ahead even more recklessly with their extreme agendas?)

So ours was a moral victory. A qualitative victory. A victory for hope.

Linda joins me in thanking each voter for his and her support. We salute you! We encourage each of you to remain optimistic, to continue boldly to stand up for good causes, to stay on the high ground, and to never, ever lose hope!

Fully expecting to work with you again sometime in the near future, we remain most profoundly grateful for each of you!


Alan and Linda Keele

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Summary of Issues in this Race

A brief guide to the voters in House District 60, Orem, Utah, consisting of a summary of differences on important issues between the challenger, Alan Keele, and the incumbent, Bradley Daw (for more details and the sources of the information please look at all the other postings on this blog at:

1. Rep. Daw has failed to work hard to support education, both K-12 and our wonderful new university in Orem, Utah Valley University. A second-grade teacher told us recently she had 32 youngsters in her class last year. This year it’s 37! How can any child learn at a high level with so little access to the teacher?! The legislature also cut UVU’s budget just this year a full 12% even through it is growing with new students every year by at least 10%! Even though UVU is right here in our District 60, Rep. Daw did not make an effort to help out, evidently because he is philosophically opposed to spending money on public education.

Alan Keele is a life-long educator (40 years teaching at BYU) who knows we must re-prioritize to turn around this decline in support for Utah’s schools and its wonderful, dedicated teachers! Money is available! 101 million dollars are right now going to waste to “send a message to Washington!” (See my blog posting entitled: Big Tobacco Money = Ok?...) Alan Keele will break any china in the Legislature he needs to to call attention to the needs of K-12 educators as well as President Holland of UVU!

2. Rep. Daw recently sponsored House Bill 150 which makes it legal for your electronic e-mails, cell-phone calls, and other electronic communications to be obtained without a search warrant signed by a judge. The bill is clearly unconstitutional since it undermines our Fourth-Amendment right to be safe from unwarranted intrusions. This important part of the Bill of Rights reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Alan Keele thinks that any true conservative would have opposed such a bill, not sponsored it. At the very least, this bill will end up costing the State a lot of money to defend in court before it is ultimately judged unconstitutional and thrown out. (Or the Legislature could do the wise thing and rescind the bill before the State has to waste money defending it. For more information see my earlier posting on how safe you are in your home in Utah.)

3. According to the public record, on August 11, 2008 Rep. Daw accepted a campaign donation of $400 from Altria Group, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies (formerly called Phillip Morris) which also deals globally in beer and wine. The public record further shows this was part of a total of $109,000 distributed by Big Tobacco companies to Utah lawmakers to influence them to vote against a program that would increase the tax on cigarettes to fund an anti-tobacco educational program called the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. (After it originally failed, I’m happy to say the bill finally passed this year, over Rep. Daw’s negative vote.) Now, whenever I see a Brad Daw campaign sign, especially his big, exorbitantly expensive billboard, I can’t help asking myself if it was purchased with this Big Tobacco money.

(In fairness, it must be admitted that Mr. Daw's overall voting record on tobacco questions has not been consistent and easy to understand. Based on some of his earlier votes, he even likes to portray himself as an opponent of tobacco, and he apparently did start out opposing certain kinds of smokeless tobacco products. But for Alan Keele the question isn't whether Brad Daw ALWAYS voted with Big Tobacco. The problem is that after he took their money, in 2010 he undeniably DID vote with Big Tobacco. And from Alan Keele's point of view, even one vote in Utah for Big Tobacco is a vote too many.)

Alan Keele knows the terrible costs associated with youngsters who start to smoke early in life: 1,100 Utahns die annually from their own smoking, 230 from second-hand smoke. 26,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Utah will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murder, and suicides combined, and this does not count other tobacco-related causes such as fires from smoking, nor does it tally in the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco products or account for the much larger number of tobacco-related health problems that are not fatal. In terms of money, smoking directly causes $345 million in annual health care costs in Utah. Additionally, the state suffers $294 million annually in smoking-caused productivity losses. Each Utah household bears an annual extra tax burden of $523 from smoking-caused government expenditures. There's not enough money in the world to induce Alan Keele to vote even once on the wrong side of this life-and-death matter!

I hope you’ll study all the issues and vote for me on November 2nd! There's an old saying: "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often, and for the same reason." Sincerely, Alan Keele

Linda Keele Gives Her Perspective On The Race!

Hi, I’m Linda Keele; the wife of Alan Keele running for the Utah House of Representatives. When I say “running,” I literally mean “running” (“walking”) to every home in our district 60. We decided that was the best way to get out our message of change and to meet you as our friends and neighbors of Orem. (I’ve already worn out a pair of shoes; and I’m tired but still full of energy to greet as many of you as we can. It has been a GREAT experience!)

We have had a wonderful experience meeting some of you; usually about l/3 of you are at home when we walk around your neighborhood, and it has been fun to see you; your cute families and dogs (even though sometimes I’ve been a little afraid of the big dogs); your creative Fall and Halloween decorations; your yards and homes. We are sorry we’ve missed any of you.

What we have especially enjoyed seeing is your beautiful children–so happy and so sweet and friendly. I think because we look like a “Grandma and Grandpa,” many of the children would smile and want to be with us. It has been delightful! As we look at these many children with their eyes big and bright and wanting the best, it re-emphasized in our minds what this Grandma and Grandpa want for our district 60 “grandchildren.”– a great education so they can be and do anything they choose to be.

Our legislature has cut funding to the public schools K-12. The teachers in our public schools are trying their best to do all they can for these children with very little $. They use their own $ and time and are dedicated even with little salary to help. Some of you have said that public education is not what it should be. How can it be when our schools in Utah have the lowest funding per student in the entire United States (we are sometimes tied with Idaho)? Our most priceless possession (our children) need to be TOP priority. We don’t need to raise taxes; just make education our TOP priority. My husband’s opponent wants to cut funding for public schools. How can we improve our public schools if there is no $ to get the best teachers, supplies, facilities, etc.?

Also the legislature this year cut 12% funding for UVU; our GEM in the middle of Orem even though UVU has been growing by about 10% per year for several years. UVU is the lowest funded higher education school in Utah. My husband’s opponent voted for this funding cut for UVU even though it is in his district.

As we walk around your neighborhoods, I talk to each person at the door and tell them that my dear husband is a moderate, and he is getting support from moderate Republicans, Democrats and Independents. As I mention that we need cooperation from all groups to come to the MIDDLE of the spectrum and WORK TOGETHER to provide the best legislation for this state and especially our Orem, many of you nod your heads “YES, YES!!” Now is the time to swing the pendulum back towards the MIDDLE. As I talk to you I see a light shining with a new hope that maybe all of us can work together for the good of our great state and city. I feel, and many of you agree, that with just a one-party system, we just get one set of ideas. Instead of getting ideas and input from many people across the spectrum, we just get a one-sided view. Special interest groups can get into the system and influence the one-party system. This can work for either left or right. We need a MULTI-PARTY system where there are ideas and strengths from all sides, where there are CHECKS and BALANCES and ACCOUNTABILITY!! “YAY!” I shout! Maybe we can all play together once more for the good of the whole!!



And look at all the other postings on:

Friday, October 8, 2010

How secure are you in your home in Utah now?


Leading Utah “Conservatives” Pass Bill Allowing More Government Intrusion Into Our Lives!


(This posting is going to look a little like the beginning of a cheap mystery novel): Earlier this morning I heard the doorbell ring. I was getting dressed, so my wife went to the door, returning with a large envelope addressed to Alan Keele. An unidentified person had dropped it off at the door.

Inside I found a complete dossier on a case I had known about for some time and had been following on-line, but here were all the facts in the case, carefully collected into one file, with the salient points underlined in red. Clearly, someone who knows a lot about this matter wanted me to get busy and inform the voters in District 60 about it. I agree that we ought to be well-informed voters, so here goes:

The case involves a recent House of Representatives bill (HB 150 of 2010, which failed once, then finally passed and was signed into law by Gov. Herbert), sponsored by Rep. Brad Daw (and sponsored in the Senate by Margaret Dayton). HB 150 essentially deletes from prior law the requirement for a judge to issue a search warrant before anyone’s personal e-mail, cell-phone messages, or other electronic communications can be accessed by the authorities.

This means that in Utah it is now legal for any official – a prosecutor or police officer, for example – to access your communications from your service providers without a judge first issuing a search warrant. The bill was aimed at sex offenders who use the internet to troll for victims. We certainly want to prosecute all such offenders, but it seems logical that any judge would certainly gladly issue a warrant for their e-mails if there were probable cause. And a judge would be far less likely to want to go on a broad fishing expedition against ordinary e-mail users.

But this Daw-Dayton bill takes the judiciary out of the process, essentially undermining the protections guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures. Without the need for a judge to decide whether probable cause exists, it’s easy to imagine how easily such an arrangement can be abused. (The bill originally would have allowed police to search for any felony, not just child sex offenders, but the notion of any felony was eventually removed in order to get the votes to pass the bill.)

Though vigilance against sex offenders using electronic communications is laudable, it is evident that passing such a broad bill probably constitutes overreach.

Certainly the 6th Circuit Court has ruled that lack of a proper warrant and lack of probable cause for the disclosure of e-mails from an Internet Service Provider is unconstitutional. See:

(By the way, since it increases the number of requests for access, this is also unnecessarily burdensome to Internet Service Providers and other such companies, who don't get paid for searching their systems and delivering information to government agencies.)

Here are a few links for further reading and viewing on the subject:

(Even non-partisan conservative sites like Grass Roots consider the Daw/Dayton bill unconstitutional):

(Owners of Internet companies like X-Mission’s Pete Ashdown are also very concerned):

Here's an illuminating Fox New report on the bill:,0,5376666.story -

Here's a posting by Connor Boyack:

Here's even one by the Libertarian Party head Andrew McCullough, a constitutional lawyer:

A number of others can be viewed if you google: administrative subpoenas attorney general utah

My view is that the State has better places to spend our tax money – helping educate our youngsters better, paying public employees better, helping to create more jobs, and generally using the money more wisely – than to be giving it to lawyers to defend unconstitutional bills in court, only to have them inevitably overturned.

Whether it’s guns made in Utah and supposedly exempt from federal background checks on firearm purchasers (Margaret Dayton’s recent Senate Bill 11); an immigration bill (being written now by Rep. Steven Sandstrom) based on the controversial and costly Arizona law which was already essentially overturned by a judge; or this intrusion-into-our-privacy bill sponsored by the Daw and Dayton duo, we shouldn’t have to be wasting our tax money defending irresponsible bills in court!

A true conservative, in my view, would stand up for our Fourth Amendment rights to be free from searches and seizures in our homes. And true conservatives would not want to waste money defending such unconstitutional bills!

I’d like to know how you see it. Write me at

Thanks! Alan Keele

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Big Tobacco Money = Ok? Federal School Money = Not Ok? What's Wrong With This Picture?

The opinion of Alan Keele, Candidate for Utah House.

As my wife Linda and I have knocked on thousands of doors throughout District 60 here in central Orem, people repeatedly ask what the differences are between the challenger Alan Keele and my opponent, the incumbent Bradley Daw. I reply that I take the word representative in the term House of Representatives very literally. If I am elected, my job would be to represent the interests of a maximum number of citizens and their families from our district. Standing in the middle, I can reach out along both sides of the spectrum, as long as my arms stretch. If I were already on one of the extreme ends, my arms could hardly reach back across the spectrum.

To illustrate my point, I ask you to consider two recent legislative cases. I’d be interested in whether you think Mr. Daw really represented your interests in these two instances:

Case One: This year, 2010, as I learned from someone in our District who works for the American Cancer Society, Representative Daw voted against an increase in the tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in the state, a tax which was designed to combat smoking, especially youth smoking, and pay for such educational initiatives as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (whose funding was eliminated by the Legislature in 2009).

Mr. Daw would naturally argue that as a libertarian he is opposed to tax increases of any kind, but this claim instantly lost its credibility for me when I discovered that on August 11, 2008 Brad accepted a substantial campaign donation from Altria Group, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies (formerly called Phillip Morris) which also deals globally in beer and wine.

(In fairness, it must be admitted that Mr. Daw's overall voting record on tobacco questions has not been consistent and easy to understand. Based on some of his earlier votes, he even likes to portray himself as an opponent of tobacco, and he apparently did start out opposing certain kinds of smokeless tobacco products. But for Alan Keele the question isn't whether Brad Daw ALWAYS voted with Big Tobacco. The problem is that after he took their money, in 2010 he undeniably DID vote with Big Tobacco. And from Alan Keele's point of view, even one vote in Utah for Big Tobacco is a vote too many.)

I was further astonished to learn from the public record that in 2007 and 2008, while they debated the merits of the tobacco bill, Utah lawmakers, including Daw, accepted a total of $42,000 from Altria as well as from the RJ Reynolds tobacco company. (And this was just the tip of a very big tobacco iceberg: Altria alone made $101 million in campaign contributions in the US between 1998 and 2004! Source on Altria:
Source on Altria’s contribution to Daw:

In 2009, the amount going to Utah lawmakers from Big Tobacco increased to an even more astonishing $67,000. (Sources: and

So, with $109,000 (42k + 67k) in Big Tobacco money greasing the palms of certain Utah lawmakers for three straight years, not surprisingly the bill originally failed (2009). This year, however, (2010) a watered-down version finally managed to become law, albeit with approximately half the originally called-for increase – about $1 per pack of cigarettes. (To provide some perspective on the magnitude of Big Tobacco’s interest in our state: the total amount of Big Tobacco money being spent on marketing tobacco products in Utah each year is $58.7 million dollars. Nationwide it’s a staggering $12.8 billion per year. Source:

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids can now go forward in Utah again, no thanks to Brad Daw and other Utah lawmakers who took Big Tobacco money (the long list of names include such leaders as: Killpack, Wimmer, Bramble, Herbert, Valentine, Waddoups, Clark, Grover, and Shurtleff. Source:

These people obviously forgot that they represent us, the majority of people in the districts and in the state. (Did Brad ever ask you what you thought about the tobacco bill? He certainly didn’t ask me or anyone else I know in our district.)

Case Two: Did Mr. Daw ask me or you recently whether we wanted 101 million dollars of our federal tax money from the US Department of Education (Utah’s share of the 10 billion dollar Education Jobs Fund of 2010) to come back to the state to help prevent the layoffs of an estimated 1,800 more teachers in Utah this year?

Mr. Daw and other members of the extreme Patrick Henry Caucus in the Legislature have vowed to sue to prevent the state from accepting the money, despite huge shortfalls in the education budget in Utah this year, and even though it is clear that the US Department of Education can legally give the money directly to the school districts over the objections of the legislature. (I’ve had people repeatedly insist there must be sinister strings attached – citing other cases like Federal Highway Funds which come contingent on seatbelt use, for example, -- but I’ve looked at this case carefully: there simply are no strings attached.) And the Utah Attorney General’s Office recently found that the transfer of our tax money back to the state for our use was entirely legal and constitutional. (For more information on this question I invite you to look at articles such as:

I’d like to hear what you think about this tobacco tax case, including the $109 thousand in campaign contributions from Big Tobacco to Utah lawmakers like Brad Daw. I’d also like your views on accepting the $101 million from the Department of Education. Please write me an email at!

As for me and my house, I can’t believe campaign donations don’t influence votes. I think this is just good, old-fashioned, corrupt influence peddling, pure and simple, more of Utah pay-to-play politics. And from Big Tobacco, no less! In Utah??!! These familiar words from LDS scripture ring in my ears: “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.” (Doctrine and Covenants section 89: “The Word of Wisdom”)

Does any responsible person in our state really think it’s ok for our kids to start a life-long habit that may eventually kill them, meanwhile costing society millions in increased health-care and other costs? (1,100 Utahns die annually from their own smoking, 230 from second-hand smoke. 26,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Utah will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murder, and suicides combined, and this does not count other tobacco-related causes such as fires from smoking, nor does it tally in the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco products or account for the much larger number of tobacco-related health problems that are not fatal. In terms of money, smoking directly causes $345 million in annual health care costs in Utah, including $104 million from the state Medicade program. Additionally, the state suffers $294 million annually in smoking-caused productivity losses. Each Utah household bears an annual extra tax burden of $523 from smoking-caused government expenditures. Source:

As more and more Brad Daw signs and exorbitantly expensive billboards go up throughout Orem, I have to ask myself: Was this sign paid for by a contribution from Big Tobacco? It's creepy to think about.

I also can’t believe Utah doesn’t deserve its $101 million back from Washington to help us keep up to 1,800 Utah teachers in their classrooms this year!

Still, I want to continue to learn from you, so write me a note (and remember to vote on November 2nd)!

Cordially, Alan and Linda Keele

Monday, September 27, 2010

Immigration: a more sensible view

Asked about my stand on immigration, I often respond that I agree with the intelligent and charitable views contained in two recent Deseret News editorials by Mark H. Willes, reproduced here. I hope they will be helpful to you as well. Cordially, Alan Keele

(The first has visual footage of Mr. Willes as well, viewable at:

Here’s the written text of the first one, from August 8th:

Editorial: Immigration-It's about us
August 8th, 2010 @ 10:00pm
By Mark Willes, President and CEO of Deseret Management Corporation

“Over the last few weeks, we have run a series of special reports on immigration in print, on television and radio, and on our multiple websites. We have tried hard to fairly represent all points of view. We have also tried to separate fact from fiction, hyperbole from reality.

We are pleased that many have told us they are now thinking more deeply about the complex issues involved. We too have found ourselves struggling to know exactly what to do. Lives, jobs, safety, and much more are at stake. In fact, the very core of what kind of people we are, and what kind of state we want to have, will be reflected in and strongly influenced by how we deal with immigration.

Common Threads

Several common threads have emerged from our reporting on immigration:

* People on all sides of the issue have uncommon courage. The debate has become so heated, the rancor so large, that anyone who takes a strong stand has been subject to withering criticism. We greatly admire all those who have added to the public dialogue by sharing their views, no matter the personal cost.
* Virtually everyone concurs that current circumstances surrounding immigration must be fixed. While areas of emphasis differ, virtually no one is happy with the way things are.
* Almost everyone also agrees that illegal felons should be caught, prosecuted, and sent out of the country.
* There is also wide consensus that to be effective, there must be a national solution to the challenges of immigration. Utahns of all points of view eagerly seek national leadership to find effective, workable solutions, sooner rather than later.
* Finally, there seems to be a broadly held view that Utah, like Arizona, should do something, if only to help speed up federal action.

No Easy Solutions

The problem, of course, is that complex problems do not lend themselves to easy solutions:

* Some argue it is a simple matter of obeying the law. Those who are here "illegally" should be sent "home." Legally, living here without proper documents is an infraction on a par with driving five miles over the speed limit. If it is just a matter of law, then where will we send all of those who have broken the speed limit? If that does not make sense for speeders, is there also a more appropriate penalty for those without proper documentation?

* Often legal and undocumented immigrants are part of the same family. Do we deport U.S. citizens because they are related to those who are not documented, or do we break up families? These both seem like unacceptable alternatives.
* How do we separate hard working contributors to our communities from those who steal, sell drugs or commit other felonies?
* If we really did send 11 million undocumented residents out of the country, what would happen to our fragile housing market, our economy, our reputation and welcome around the world? What kind of economic, political and social retaliation could we expect, and how would we deal with it? We shudder to think!
* Before a new drug can be introduced for general consumption, it must go through a long process of testing. There are almost always "side effects" that must be clearly understood or people can be badly hurt. Simple legislation often leads to unintended consequences that can be worse than the problem that was supposed to be fixed by the passage of the law. How do we make sure we truly understand the effects of what we decide to do?

Send the Right Message

Even though there is no easy or simple answer, something must be done. If Utah is to send a message to the Federal Government, let's try to craft a message that deals with all of the complexities of the issue - border control, background checks, worker permits, health insurance coverage, and so on. Many creative Utahns are working on such ideas. Rather than passing a simplistic law that does not recognize how complex and challenging the situation is, why not take the time to develop a comprehensive set of proposals that could be a model for what the Federal Government could do. That way Utah could help lead the way to real solutions that actually work. It would show we want the thugs and drug dealers sent home, while giving those who want to be contributing members of society a path out of uncertainty and fear.

Conquer Our Fears!

It is strange that the United States, which has been built by immigrants, has always had a difficult time dealing with immigrants. Whether we came from Europe, Asia, Latin America or Africa, there were always some who thought we were different, disruptive and unwelcome. Yet this constant infusion of brawn and brains has helped turn America into a country envied and copied around the world. This odd phenomenon is doubly true for Utah. Everyone who lives here, whether Mormon or not, shares in the heritage of the pioneers who first entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. They were driven here by people in Missouri and Illinois who had come to fear and hate the Mormons. The Mormons were different. The Mormons were growing in economic and political clout. The Mormons had strange ideas and a different culture. For these and other complex reasons the pioneers were forced to give up their homes, their possessions, and at great personal sacrifice and cost, came to Utah. They brought with them their hopes, dreams, and willingness to work to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Since then other people and other faiths have immigrated to Utah. Some were easily welcomed. For others the process was more difficult and took longer. But because of the sacrifice and hard work of so many, from so many places, we now live in a state that is unique and wonderful!

Therefore, we of all people should be sensitive to the desire of others to provide more opportunities for themselves and their families. We, of all people, should take the time to learn to love our neighbors, rather than allowing the fact that they are different to cause us to want to drive them from our midst. We, of all people, should set a higher standard of concern, compassion and love. Except for Native Americans, we are all here because of immigration. Common decency and gratitude for what we have should cause us to embrace those who have a desire to share in and add to what is already here.

Utah - A Higher Standard

We don't minimize the very real problems associated with immigration. No one is happy with the current situation. Undocumented residents live with fear, worry, and often discrimination. Citizens worry about crime, jobs, political influence. It is precisely at times like this that we find out who we really are. Do we live by core values of love and compassion or do we take counsel from our fears? Are we willing to provide moral leadership or do the expedient thing even when we are not sure what the consequences will be?

We encourage all Utahns to take the time to learn and ponder. We don't need to follow anyone else's lead. We can lead out in thoughtfulness, creativity, comprehensiveness, and compassion. Others have left a remarkable legacy for us. Let us leave a legacy for those who follow that will stand the test of time and that will reflect and honor the sacrifices or those who preceded us.

At the end of the day, what we do about immigration will say more about "us" than it will about "them." We need to find a way so that they and we are one.”

-Mark Willes, on behalf of Deseret Media Companies: KSL Television, KSL Radio, Deseret News, and El Observador

This is the second editorial, from September 26:

“Immigration and the rule of law.” Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT in the Deseret News.

“The rule of law is a bedrock principle of our constitutional democracy. Many behaviors can corrode and undermine the public's confidence in the rule of law. Two of these are especially important regarding the issue of immigration.

The first is blatant disregard for the law. Few things hurt the efficacy of a rule as quickly as indifference to its enforcement.

The second, which is just as damaging, is stubborn enforcement of rules that are unjust. Humans seem to have an inborn sense of justice. We recoil when formal legal authority appears to be the only justification for enforcement of something that seems unfair. Officiousness, petty legalism, and injustice enforced by rules are not what is captured in our principled respect for the rule of law.

Our current immigration policies undermine the rule of law with the twin threats of blatant disregard of clearly established laws and the stubborn enforcement of unjust rules.

When 11 million individuals reside in our country without documentation to show that they entered lawfully, the law is threatened by indifference. But fundamental fairness is also threatened when officials forcefully raid the homes of and break up families whose sole motivation for undocumented entry was to seek freedom and opportunity.

This tension between written law and the demands of fairness is, of course, not new. Indeed, one of the great strengths of the American legal system has been its ability to navigate between these extremes that threaten to undermine public confidence in the rule of law.

A notable example of this is in our property law. For those of us who sing the praises of pioneer ancestors it may be disquieting to learn that the Utah pioneers (i.e., those settlers who arrived prior to 1869) were technically squatters. They settled on and improved lands without any formal legal authority. Historians frequently refer to these arrangements as "extralegal."

This was not just a Utah issue — it was an issue for most western lands. In lands acquired by the United States through purchase or treaty, the federal government had clear formal authority to step in and chase off squatters.

Instead of rigidly enforcing the law of property and thereby destroying the livelihood and wealth of ingenious freedom-loving pioneers, we adapted our laws using common sense to make what was "extralegal" part of the legal economy. Through accommodating legislation like the Preemption Act of 1841, the Homesteading Act of 1862 and the General Mining Act of 1872, the United States transformed extralegal uses of property in western lands into recognized titles and legal claims. It is important to note that land was not given away — there were requirements, processes, and fees — but none of it was onerous for settlers of good will.

These practical legal adaptations transformed those who first came to these mountain valleys from illegal squatters into honored pioneers. By making those adjustments, the government did not abandon law or give in to illegal behavior. Statesmen of the day had the common sense, decency, and foresight to recognize that the existing property law would prove too rigid and inhumane if it kept the orderly, productive activity of our pioneer forebears outside of the bounds of law.

The same hope for freedom and opportunity that motivated pioneers to settle the West continues to draw families to America. Over the centuries millions of immigrants have had that hope fulfilled. With each wave of immigration there has been understandable worry about the impact — but immigration has always enriched America culturally and economically.

The eyes of the world have turned to Utah. Global press outlets like The Economist and The New York Times have covered how Utah, with its pioneer heritage and a population with extraordinary international experience, is addressing this challenging issue.

One need not advocate amnesty to see that we need a way to bring those undocumented families of good will among us out of the shadows. One need not abandon the principle of accountability to provide a mechanism for people to work in and contribute to our society.

We urge our lawmakers today to deliberate about how they might fashion clear and enforceable immigration rules that recognize, welcome and accommodate families motivated by that pioneering spirit of opportunity. They should honor the fact that the overwhelming majority of Utah's residents trace their heritage to immigrants who came here because of freedom and opportunity. Often cast off from their native lands as social, economic, or religious misfits, our ancestors found in these valleys refuge and opportunity. They also found a responsive system of law that accommodated rather than rejected them. The heritage of opportunity, tolerance, and adaptation that guided us in the 19th and 20th centuries should continue to guide us today.

Disregard of current entry requirements harms respect for law. Abuse of those requirements for blatantly criminal ends is unacceptable. But the rule of law is equally harmed through stubborn, costly and capricious enforcement of unwise rules. Respect for law will increase when our immigration policies respond to and adapt to that universal human impulse to seek opportunity and freedom. And if history is our guide, such adaptation will enhance our culture and expand economic innovation and growth.”