Barron: Kathie Allen’s Tweets Speak Volumes

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By Morgan Barron, Opinion Writer

Dr. Kathie Allen’s political career began with the political death of Jason Chaffetz.

In March of 2017, the then-Utah Representative appeared on CNN to discuss the Republicans’ new healthcare bill. During the segment, Congressman Chaffetz demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of our current healthcare system, and the interview culminated with him suggesting Americans should give up the next iPhone to afford healthcare.

Dr. Allen, a practicing physician for over 30 years and frustrated with the incompetency of her representative, announced she would be challenging Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz for his seat in the 2018 midterm elections. She believed politicians in Washington, D.C. could learn a lot from the “keen sense of compassion” she has developed as a primary care physician. “We stop judging and we just try to find solutions.”

Her shot at the 3rd Congressional District seat came sooner than she planned. Chaffetz stepped down as a Utah representative, spurring a special election to be held in 2017. Dr. Allen ran a healthcare-focused campaign against Republican John Curtis and United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett. On November 7th, Allen conceded the race to Curtis, Provo’s former mayor. Allen missed the opportunity to practice her physician’s mantra by graciously accepting defeat. Instead she tweeted, “Curtis is Mormon and Republican. I am neither. That really seems to be the only thing Utah County cares about, just as I was warned.”

While Dr. Allen apologized for attacking Utah County voters back in November, she tweeted again about a political rival’s religion this week saying, “Brian Zehnder is my likely opponent for Senate District 8 in 2018. He is a fellow family physician, but an evangelical. Not sure how he reconciles evangelism with science.” She claims to know Senator Zehnder well and was bothered by how ‘some [evangelicals] don’t respect science,’ but this tweet does not elevate science’s role in policy or her campaign. Instead, Dr. Allen utilized her platform to shift the political discourse from respectful debates on policy to personal attacks, something she has criticized President Trump for doing.  

Dr. Allen, I want you to know that I supported your candidacy for Congress this past fall. I believe individuals who are passionate about issues facing our nation and have the wherewithal to serve have an obligation to do so. I was impressed with how you challenged Representative Curtis’ flirtation with President Trump’s campaign slogans during the special election, reminding him of the Utahns who had been personally affected by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. However, I am bothered that your words have not been affirmed by your actions. While you may disagree with Senator Zehnder’s religious affiliations, attacking his faith does nothing positive for you or the state of Utah. In fact, after a review of your Twitter account, it appears you would not be able to work effectively or compromise with colleagues who hold different religious or ideological beliefs. This trait may not have been critical in medical school, but it is vital when representing a spectrum of constituents — those who do and do not agree with you.