Ally Isom: Senator, come home

It is 2,074 miles from my front step in Kaysville to the United States Capitol.  But my reality and Washington, D.C., are worlds apart.  

For those we elect to represent us, in time, Washington can be corrosive. Stay too long, and they start to live in an alternate reality. Stay too long, and they stop listening, they think they have all the answers. Stay too long, and they’ll say anything it takes to stay even longer. They get too comfortable. 

I believe if you’re doing your job right, you never really get comfortable in Washington, D.C. If you know the clock is ticking, you get to work on the  things that matter most, and you never lose your focus. 

What we have in Washington, D.C., is not working, nor is it centered on things that matter most to Utah. Elites–and that includes long-time incumbents and  special interests–have too firm a grip on Washington. They think they know  better. They fail to see Americans have had it with the reckless spending, the unproductive tribalism, the disconnect from reality. 

Let me share the words of a fellow Utahn:  

“The American people … know that in many respects they are no longer in charge of their own government. That the government that was created to serve them has tried to untether itself from them, moving away from them and becoming a task-master rather than a servant.” 

“The American people are frustrated with a government that knows no boundaries.” 

These words were spoken before The Heritage Foundation on November 30,  2016, by Utah Senator Mike Lee, one of the nation’s most vocal advocates for term limits. 

More from Senator Lee’s own blog: “[A] government of, by, and for the people  requires elected representatives who are more interested in securing the common good rather than maximizing their own power and prestige.” When insiders defended the power of incumbency, Senator Lee called it “a ploy to  increase the power of Washington elites at the expense of everyone else.”  

So who is defending Washington elites at the expense of Utahns now? As a  candidate for a third term today, Mike Lee is no longer a credible voice for limiting the time of service by those elected to represent Utah. Instead, today Senator Lee’s words are here to remind him: It’s time to come home.

I call on Senator Lee to honor his commitment, to shut down his campaign, to finish the work we sent him to do and to come home to a grateful state. The  framers of our Constitution knew it would be healthy to routinely rotate those serving in public office. It protects against corruption and dishonesty. It  prevents careerism. It ensures those who act as our voice know what is in our  hearts. 

To that end, today I commit, as Utah’s next senator, publicly, unequivocally, to serve two terms and then come home. Today, I stand here at the People’s House, the symbol of Utah’s voice, on the record. Today I commit that if I have  the honor, privilege, and responsibility of serving the people of Utah in the United States Senate, I will hit the ground running and I will give it all I have.  

This pledge means I will focus on those things that matter most TO UTAH and not waste time on frivolous or partisan distractions. It means I will be solely accountable to the people of Utah, not the machines in Washington. And it means I’ll be highly motivated to create durable solutions and sound policy.  Then, after two terms, I will come home and hand the baton to another, capable, principled Utahn. 

Now, some will say that it’s foolish to limit myself to twelve years, that patronage and seniority are the way the game is played, that it will irk those in  charge. But therein lies the problem, doesn’t it? It becomes too much of a game when you stay too long. You start worrying too much about what the  wrong people think. 

When you stay too long, you start to enjoy–even fuel– political theater and staged committee diatribes and hearings where NO ONE is listening anymore.  You start actually needing the job and become reluctant to relinquish power.  When you stay too long, the job moves from being public service to a public career.  

Career politicians measure success by the number of cable TV appearances, rather than the number of bills successfully passed and signed into law.  Career politicians use taxpayer funds to send a pricey, 55-page, glossy annual report in an election year, rather than spending time in Utah’s communities EVERY year. 

Utah deserves better. Our nation deserves better. If we want different  outcomes, we must stop doing things the same way. It’s time for a different kind of leadership–a leader that knows the hearts and minds of Utah, a leader doggedly focused on getting the right things done. 

Let me conclude with some words for Senator Lee: Senator, come home.  Twelve years is long enough. We thank you for your service. We know it has  not been easy–for you or your family. We know the pressures are immense.  Come home to Utah. Senator, come home.