[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The ABU Education Fund and John R. Park Debate Society have come together yet again for a new spin on their traditional debate events. Given the current political climate in Utah and the upcoming special congressional election to replace Representative Jason Chaffetz, the two organizations have chosen to host – you guessed it – a debate!
On Friday, October 13th, 2017 join us as the candidates share their positions and answer YOUR questions! [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”9624″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://betterutah.org/cd3debate/”][vc_column_text]
What is the event?
While last year’s presidential debates consisted of yelling about China and backpedaling over false or offensive statements, this Third Congressional District Debate promises much more. The John R. Park Debate Society has established a debate format focused on maximizing education for audience members. There will also be a moderated question and answer portion where candidates will be asked to answer questions submitted by community members in attempt to address real concerns.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
So, who is participating?
For this year’s special election, Utah will be choosing among six different candidates with a wide range of beliefs and ideas when it comes to politics. The six candidates running for the seat include Kathie Allen (Dem.), Jim Bennett (United Utah), Joe Buchman (Lib.), Jason Christensen (Ind.), John Curtis (Rep.), and Sean Whalen (unaff.).
Although we would like to give every candidate the chance to participate, to keep the debate short and relevant to a majority of constituents, the four most popular candidates, based on polling, will be formally invited to participate and present their ideas at the debate.
Involvement does not have to stop at attending and listening to the debate. Through the ABU website, the community members have the ability to submit their own questions to the moderators of the debate for a chance to have their question asked during the debate.
Why does it matter?
We all have our own ideas on what it means to be civically engaged or even what civic engagement is itself. We can all probably attest to the fact that voting is a form of engagement and that it is part of, well, doing our part.
Though this is the case, a completely comprehensive understanding of voting doesn’t seem to exist in the United States, and more specifically, in Utah. As explained by The Spectrum, on average, “Utah ranked 39th nationally among the 50 states with just 57.7 percent of the voting-age population casting ballots, according to a new report from the Nonprofit Vote and U.S. Elections Project.” Though these numbers are disturbingly low, they only account for presidential elections. Local elections tend to result in even lower turnout. However, it is not all bad news. In the 2016 presidential election, Utah voters broke their own record, with roughly 80% of registered voters showing up to polls.
With that said, we must remember that voting doesn’t only happen every four years to determine who gets access to nuclear codes. Municipal and special elections are arguably the most important time for us to cast ballots. This fall, those living in the 3rd District have the responsibility of voting for who they want to replace Representative Jason Chaffetz in the U.S. Congress. Making that vote an informed decision can start by attending the CD-3 Debate.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Points to Ponder
Now that we’ve addressed the event and its importance, let’s get into the undertones and what we can take away from the nonverbal communications of the campaigns so far. There are three major takeaways from the slate of candidates presented to us this election.
First, you probably already noticed this, but the majority of the candidates presented belong to parties other than the dominant Democratic and Republican parties we are used to. This just goes to show how a two-party system will probably never be enough to truly represent the values and ideas of all individuals. I also believe this is a symbol of change in Utah, and maybe even American politics as a whole. This is a judgement you can make for yourself by watching the debate, election, and voting at the end. No matter what the result of the election is, it will communicate something about Utah politics, and unlike in years past, there are more than two options.
Next, I believe the party affiliations of this election contribute to a broader story of affiliation. Throughout the last US presidential election and the months since, there has been a serious divide in politics and people. This may be due to the way our two-party system seems to shut out the existence of third parties and their ability to thrive. Additionally, I think it’s safe to say that the deep divide between Democrats and Republicans is leading to the often extreme positions on both sides, but has also created a stage where no one is now truly wanting to commit to one extreme or the other.
Finally, these special elections, and especially special elections with such a diverse candidate base, do not happen often. In fact, the last time we had a Congressional special election in Utah was more than a century ago! More importantly, though, is the fact that events like the CD-3 Debate do not always happen, are not always free, and are often inaccessible to the public. It is important to take advantage of watching this bit of history unfold while we gather the knowledge we need to cast an informed ballot.
[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”9630″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”http://betterutah.org/cd3debate/”][/vc_column][/vc_row]