This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Someone tell me why it matters who wins the 3rd Congressional District special election.

The three Republican candidates did little to distinguish themselves at the Tuesday debate hosted by Americans for Prosperity-Utah. John Curtis is currently the mayor of Provo, and was recently recognized as leading the second best-run municipality in the nation. Chris Herrod is a former state legislator. Tanner Ainge is an unlucky soul whose general manager-dad just stole the Jazz's best player over to the Boston Celtics. Oh, and he's a businessman.

But the other night they sounded like politicians. They all want to stop spending, limit the federal government and shepherd a little Utah success to the nation's capital. But the greatest impact they will make in Washington will be the impact on their own personal lives and the lives of their families. Just ask Jason Chaffetz, and his cot.

A principled conservative and a platform Republican and an experienced mayor are all the same thing – politicians. And no matter how dynamic a politician is, he will have little ability to truly make a difference in the mammoth-like beast that is our nation's capital.

Thus, I offer a friendly reminder to the candidates this season: as Judge Monroe G. McKay often says, people need to check their own bull. But he said it more colorfully.

Admittedly, debates are terrible opportunities to set yourself apart in a positive way. Debate questions are broad and answers are short. But there is a way to distinguish yourself as a credible non-politician. First, throw away the platitudes. Second, be a good person.

In the debate, Curtis said D.C. is broken, but Utah is working. I agree with him. And I think Utah is working because of its people. In Utah, we care about each other. We empathize. We try to be good people. And it makes all the difference.

My youngest son has Down syndrome and when he was younger (he's almost 3) he had issues with his airway, as many babies with Down syndrome do. Every time he would get sick, whether it was RSV or just the common cold, we would end up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's Hospital for 12-14 days at a time. He was intubated in three of these hospital stays. It was scary, and exhausting and sad.

I remember one late night being especially upset that I was there alone, that I couldn't sleep on the narrow chair-bed, that the incessant bright lights never turned off and that the nurses and students just outside my glass door wouldn't stop talking and laughing and acting as if it was the middle of the day.

Suddenly alarms started beeping and doctors and nurses started streaming into the unit and readying the room across the hall from me. I could see their frenzied preparations through the glass walls. They rushed a bed into the unit with a little boy laying on it, motionless. His mother followed behind, silent and in complete despair.

I watched that room for two days as nurses and doctors swept in and out, talking in hushed tones and conferring in the hallway. Gone was the light laughter and joking from a few nights before. Extended family went in and out, desperate for something to do to help. The boy remained motionless while the machines kept whirring and flashing.

I scoured the papers for a story about a boy this age who had been in an accident, and found nothing. This boy was just a boy, with his mom, lying in a children's hospital, taking his last breaths.

I will never forget witnessing his mother's last moments with him. I came upon her unintentionally, and quickly averted my eyes as I intruded on her private moment. She was kneeling by his bed, holding his hand, weeping.

A few hours later the machines stopped and the family left, arm in arm, to mourn and remember the boy they had lost.

I doubt most Utahns watched last night's debate, or even knew it was happening, because we are too busy living the moments that create our humanity. We are busy celebrating toddler soccer games and new jobs. We are busy helping each other move and listening to friends cry over divorce or failure or death.

We are just too busy to fret over something that won't make a difference anyway.