Political Sacred Cows

Photo by Patrick Hayes

It is a political reality that in Utah if you wish to become Governor, Senator, or representative of House District 1 you must pledge allegiance to Hill Air Force Base (HAFB). (If you want to be a representative of districts 2, 3, or 4 it doesn’t hurt to pledge allegiance to HAFB either.)

This point was made clear again yesterday as the topic emerged for the democratic candidate for Governor and both his comments regarding HAFB and the comments of other political figures in the state were aired. This tweet by my state senator started a conversation that got me thinking about our sacred cows:

“If there is another #BRAC, #Utah needs seasoned Congressmen like Rob Bishop and Orrin Hatch to protect #HAFB–not a freshman Governor #utpol” –Todd Weiler

The thing that got me thinking about it was the likelihood that if offices were reversed and Rep. Jim Matheson (D) had been the representative of district 1 with Rep. Rob Bishop (R) as representative of district 2 it is a safe bet that Rep. Matheson would have an unquestionable loyalty to HAFB and yet that tweet would almost certainly have read:

If there is another #BRAC, #Utah needs seasoned Congressmen like Orrin Hatch to protect #HAFB–not a freshman Governor #utpol

Some may think I am opposed to keeping HAFB but the reality is that I have no problem with HAFB per se – my issue is with the concept of an unassailable sacred cow that causes us as voters as well as our representatives to make short-sighted political decisions.

Whether or not it is fiscally or militarily wise to keep HAFB operating in Utah is not a question I am interested in or qualified to answer but it should be easy to understand that whenever someone (or some group) assigns one thing as unassailable which should not actually be unassailable – whether it’s HAFB, the importance of seniority, the idea that all elected officials are crooks who should be replaced, or even the original text of the U.S. Constitution – it eventually leads them to make decisions that are undesirable in the long run simply because they are unwilling to challenge the sacred cow in the way. In fact, it has been the unwillingness of Congress to address the sacred herd of our entitlement programs and defense spending that has been the biggest driving force for our massive national debt.