David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, September 10, 2005
Scrambled Eggs and Boiled Spinach (or Why Primary Elections Matter)

I have never encountered a food which I loathe more than cooked spinach, except eggs. And vice versa. Put a soggy, deathly-dark green mass of the former on my plate, and I'd sooner eat the plate. As to the latter, I don't care whether they're scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, or raw. I only like my eggs . . . on someone else's plate. Quiche is definitely over the line, too, and I can only eat French toast with lots of maple syrup, which I don't otherwise eat, either.

Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we often seem to have to choose between scrambled eggs and boiled spinach when we go to the voting booth on Election Day. Some elections are worse than others. For example, I remember looking forward for years to voting against a particular incumbent in a local election, then actually voting for him in the end, because I knew that his opponent simply couldn't function in the office. Here in Happy Valley, especially, where many of us believe it is our religious duty to seek and uphold good, wise, and honest political leaders, we should have better choices on Election Day. But we often don't.

News flash: This is our fault!

How could this be? you wonder. Could we do something to prevent it?

Thanks for asking.

Primary elections matter, especially at the local level. Next time you gird up your political loins just in time for Election Day, then are disappointed to have to choose between scrambled eggs and boiled spinach, please pause to consider this: If you and relatively few others had paid attention to the primary election in October, you might have had better choices in November. Maybe those choices wouldn't have been Porterhouse steak and fresh Maine lobster, but there might have been at least some chicken-fried steak or shepherd's pie on the primary menu, er, ballot.

But there's more to it than simply voting in the primaries, if you're really serious about the quality of candidates. If you start early and put some effort into it, you can affect the quality of candidates in the primary election, too.

Let's compare voting in the primary election to choosing the restaurant for dinner, and voting in the general election to picking from the menu at the chosen establishment. If you choose the restaurant, you're more likely to be content with the menu, right? So you vote in the primary, and you're more likely to be happy with your choices later in the general election.

But suppose you live in American Fork, and your taste often runs to fine seafood. Then you must either leave town or settle for something other than what you really want - that is, unless you think further ahead.

If you really care about the quality of the local poisson - that's French for fish, not my misspelling of poison - then you really only have three choices: (1) open your own fish house, (2) persuade a friend or neighbor to open one, or (3) just wait around hoping you get lucky someday and don't have to drive all the way to Orem for that Wood Fired, Cajun-Grilled Red Snapper you crave.

Last month I blogged about the strong field of mayoral candidates in American Fork. Depending on the primaries, the potential exists for us to have a very strong set of choices in the general election for city council, as well. It's entirely possible that by the time November 8 rolls around, there won't be any scrambled eggs or cooked spinach on the ballot at all. (That's my opinion. Yours may differ, and that's okay.)

How did we get to be so lucky? It actually wasn't luck at all. For at least a year, a considerable number of concerned residents have been trying to persuade some excellent chefs to open good fish houses, and some of those good and capable people have been willing to be persuaded.

But enough of the metaphor already. Translation: Good people have been gently and persistently attempting to persuade other good people to run for office here, and in some cases, it has worked.

It's now about a month too late for your favorite prospective city leader to file as a candidate, if he or she hasn't filed already. You might keep that person in mind for 2007, though - and you could start persuading about a year early. Promise your support, promise to rally your friends and neighbors . . . then deliver.

Meanwhile, if there's a candidate running in our primary who particularly appeals to you, help with the campaign. This year, unless the voter turnout is particularly high, a city council candidate can probably get to the general election with less than 1000 votes in the primary. You and your friends and neighbors could be 50 of those votes, and that could easily be enough to tip the balance in your candidate's favor.

If all this is too much trouble for you, fine. But then you don't get to complain on November 8, if all you see on the menu is scrambled eggs and boiled spinach.

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