Burgess Owens might as well toss a torch into our democracy. He couldn't even wait until he was sworn in to start destroying the dream of the Founding Fathers. Their dream was simple: Every voice would be heard, and every vote would count.
But our new congressman is playing the part of a GOP cheerleader—chasing the conspiracy bogeymen that have characterized the ignorance, confusion, and chaos of the Trump years. As most of the nation gasps at the outrages of the last days of this presidential administration, Owens is right there, swallowing and perpetuating its lies and attacking the sacred fundamentals of our democracy.
In the face of the hard facts and with more than 50 unsuccessful legal challenges—many of them heard by the Trump-appointed judges—Owens continues to espouse the lie. He makes no bones about it: The president was definitely reelected. So there!
Owens has already forfeited any illusion of respectability. Along with that, he's also vacated any possibility that his words can be viewed as rational or true. Of course, no one expected him to be a rocket scientist. But the man should at least be able to string a few words together that make sense. They don't. As Utahns listened to their junior congressman, there was a resounding "Huh?"
"In 10 years in the NFL, I played in a lot of losing games," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "If you leave everything on the field and you've done everything you can and there's nothing left, then it's a winning game regardless of what the score might be."
Am I missing something? Can Owens really have voiced such unmitigated garbage? Does he really believe that winning is just another interpretation of losing? As I read this quote, I was aghast.
The questions swirl in my brain: Too long in the birth canal? Too many concussions in his football years? What's he been smoking? Did he ever take a class on argumentation and reason? He has the same delusional disconnect with reality as the president.
Since Owens likes to talk about the political situation in terms of sports, it's appropriate to throw his words back in his face. "Burgess, listen up! You're right; elections are, indeed, like a scrimmage, and it's a very simple concept: The team with the most points wins, even if fans are angry about some of the referee calls."
It seems that Owens is fulfilling the prophecies of the Ben McAdams campaign ads; they warned us that the ex-NFL player possessed some serious character flaws. Sure, bankruptcy was designed to give the financially troubled a way out. But, with Owens, it wasn't just one. It was six! He defaulted on his financial obligations over and over—something that very much reflects on a man's character. Now we're getting to see it firsthand. Owens is showing his true colors, and they're not red, white and blue.
Burgess obviously likes the limelight. He grabs any opportunity to have himself heard, but it's not working in his favor. There's plenty of egg on his face. He asserts the debunked claim that 42,000 Nevada votes were counted twice for Biden; he insists that the Democrats in Pennsylvania corrupted the election there, but, like Trump's dozens of frivolous lawsuits, he's offered nothing that could be considered evidence. (It's worth mentioning that Pennsylvania actually did find three cases of felony election fraud—committed by Republicans.)
Trump's election lawsuits have failed for a single reason—there's no evidence. Owens is now engaged in trying to overthrow the Electoral College vote, and in so doing, he betrays America's values. He thinks it's the right thing to do—but, so much for flogging a dead horse. It's not difficult math; the team with the most points wins.
The nitty-gritty is that Burgess Owens can't seem to understand the meaning of fair play. He has a bad habit of changing the facts to suit his whims, and he knows absolutely nothing about keeping his commitments. Over the years, Owens has made promises, and he's broken many of them. Now he's doing the same with Utah and the future of the U.S. dream. He is advocating default on the greatest commitment—the principle of allowing the people's voice to be heard.
You'd think that a man who was elected by the voters of this state—only by a sliver of votes—would have some respect for how the electoral process works. Fat chance! If someone got aggressive and garnered massive publicity to say that Owens actually lost, how would he feel? Adopting his own rationale, McAdams got fewer votes but actually won!
Let's face it. Owens got a gimme, but he's still adamant about overthrowing an honest presidential election. I have a pain, deep in my gut, that Owen's character and poor powers of discrimination are going to haunt us for the next two years.
And, of course, we have only ourselves to blame.
The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnis, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.