The door is that way, Senator.
You can walk out it or be thrown out it. The choice is yours.
This is closed circuit to Sen. Orrin Hatch, a good man who is facing a hard decision.
Specifically, he is deciding how his political career will end. He may not understand that that is the decision he is making, but it is. In the coming weeks and months he is deciding how it all comes to an end.
With his head held high and to the gratitude of constituents, or in the humiliation of public rejection and political loss.
Don't get me wrong. I respect and admire Orrin Hatch. He is a dignified man. And, as a believer in the Mormon church, I am grateful for his years of service as America's official Mormon.
But he's passed his expiration date.
Personally, he's far too liberal for my tastes. His man crush on Teddy Kennedy led him to cave in to that liberal Democrat time after time after time. From a conservative standpoint, Orrin Hatch is pretty unsatisfying. Sensing that, he has over the last year jerked insincerely to the right, hoping to curry favor.
All of which is interesting, but none of which is the point.
This is really a math problem. Two thousand and 12 minus 1996 equals too damned long.
The issue with Orrin is that he has spent more than half his life in Washington. He went to the Senate when they were playing Bicentennial Minutes on TV.
More specifically, from my standpoint, he went to the Senate when I was a junior in high school.
This summer I turn 52.
The guy has been there for-freaking-ever.
And while that make sense from the perspective of Washington, that is exactly why it doesn't make sense from the perspective of America.
The Senate is an institution devoted to seniority. That is a function of the custom of that body, not the Constitution or law of the United States. In order to resolve peeing matches between the egos of the Senate, they pin rank and status on longevity. And so senile old coots wetting themselves in wheelchairs end up being the deans of the Senate, and everyone pays them obesience. Everybody wants to be the top dog, the longest-lived sucker of the public blood.
That's how they do things in Washington.
But it's not how we want things done in America.
The purpose of the Senate is to represent the states and the people. Senators are to be emissaries of the will of the people and the interests of the states. They are to bring the messages of home to the halls of Congress. They are to represent.
And to represent, you must understand. And the only way to understand is to be.
We elect people living lives and paying bills to go off and vote as we would vote. They are capable of doing that as long as their lives are like ours. As long as they are shopping where we shop and facing what we face, they understand and true representation can take place.
But the longer a politician is in Washington, the less he represents home and the more he represents Washington. He comes to live and think according to the attitudes of the place he works, not the place he represents. In the case of Orrin Hatch, he stops being a Utahn and starts being a Washingtonian.
And after 36 years, you are a Washingtonian.
You are no longer a Utahn.
You are not from here, Senator. You are from there.
And that trumps how you vote or which arm you twist. You have, by virtue of time in office, become incapable of sharing, understanding and representing the lives of everyday Utahns.
Which gets us back to the door, and how you choose to go out it.
My advice is simple: Go out it with humility, gratitude and your legacy intact.
Announce that you have, at this stage of life, decided to enjoy your grandchildren. Speak of gratitude for years of trust and opportunity, talk of love of country and state, and retire. Say that this term is the last term and you will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate.
That, Senator, will earn your career the ovation it may well deserve. It will allow your departure to focus on your achievements and success. You will be the champion being welcomed home.
Or you will be the goat.
That is what will happen if you decide to go ahead with this campaign. You will lose, and you will look bad, and the end of your career will be a footnote in the history of the Tea Party. As you clean out your office, nobody will be talking about what you've accomplished, they will be talking about the fact that you were rejected. That you were kicked out. You will be a graphic in the story about the casualties of 2012.
You will go down in history as a man who wore out his welcome.
Your career will be remembered for how it ended.
And that would be a pretty sad thing.
But it is a certain thing.
Because, if you run, you will be beaten. The tide has turned and the new day has dawned.
And you are going to be thrown out that door, unless you walk out on your own.
This column is intended as friendly advice. It is meant to do you a favor.
It is meant to help your long career end on a noble note.
Because your career is ending. You are going out that door.
The only question is whether you will walk out on your own, or if you will leave with a boot in the seat of your pants.
Because there's a kicker on deck, and you can't beat him.