On Principled Representation
Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a conservative summit in Washington, D.C. entitled Principles First, cosponsored by Heath Mayo’s grass-roots organization by that same name and by Stand Up Republic, founded by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn. It was an amazing event, with panel discussions on topics ranging from what it means to be a principled conservative today to how the future conservative movement can grow instead of shrinking. The forum focused on broad thematic discussions--foreign policy, rule of law, and more--while discussing how these topics apply in the current political climate.
Nearly 300 people from more than 35 states attended, and panelists were drawn from the ranks of influential conservative writers, pundits, and activists from a wide spectrum of thought. A vast array of opinions were shared, yet panelists unitedly expressed that civil conversation and substantive discourse are more productive than name-calling and hate-filled arguments.
One theme from the summit that stood out to me, among many, was of the need to be willing to learn and adapt as times change, without sacrificing our integrity. This theme echoed repeatedly, in one form or another, in virtually every panel: preferred policy outcomes should not be bought at the price of the rule of law or moral principles.
One of the most powerful panels for me, however, was a group of young Millennials and Gen-Zers, led by Sarah Quinlan, who spoke on the future of the conservative movement.
In keeping with the tone of civil discourse, one participant on that panel, Benji Backer, stressed not marginalizing or stereotyping those with opposing views. However, two speakers added that this inclusivity didn’t mean that a principled electorate should reward those who have enabled the current trends. Supporting diverse viewpoints is one thing, they agreed, but enabling political grifting is another. We must demand that political leaders have principled integrity undergirding their pragmatic lawmaking. Likewise, a central tenet of my Team Jonia campaign is building an inclusive coalition that simultaneously demands accountability from its leaders.
I believe in examining the individual consequences of all public policy decisions before crafting legislation, and was thrilled to hear many Principles First panelists endorse the same. Reed Howard observed that “the First Amendment should be the heartbeat of the conservative movement.” He went on to say that First Amendment protections need to apply to all citizens – whether we like and agree with them or not. Simultaneously, several panelists emphasized the need to support policy that prioritizes and defends human dignity. Those issues should include the environment, immigration, and social policy, as well as addressing racial injustice, and seeking criminal justice reforms. In that vein, Shermichael Singleton pointed out that we need to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations about racial history in order to accurately look to the future and reach a broader coalition of people. Clinging to the mantra that our given political group is, and has always been, right will not only fail to grow a principled movement, it will cause it to shrivel and eventually die out. As part of United Utah, I am committed to building an inclusive, forward-looking movement that pragmatically deals with the pressing issues of our day.
True conservative principles can solve the problems we are facing as a nation, but their success will require working together, sharing ideas, putting principles ahead of party affiliation, and standing for truth. Listening to the needs and concerns of our fellow citizens is an important place to start, for how can we offer solutions if we haven’t heard the voices of those affected? Fulfilling our civic duty requires humility and civility.
These are things that I believe in. I know that our needs are great in this country, but I know that solutions are possible as we truly listen, learn, and work with others for the good of the nation and its citizens as a whole. Compassionate civic collaboration is at the core of my political ideology.
As your Congresswoman, I pledge to listen to each and every constituent as a valuable member of this district, and to always put our shared principles first.