The older I get, ten years does not seem that long ago. But ten years has passed since I christened the Mero Moment to today when I lay it to rest.
When I began these radio commentaries Barack Obama just had been nominated by his party for the presidency, something named Lady Gaga hit the stage, the Summer Olympics were in China where Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt became household names and, more importantly, the Unites States economy began to crumble. Within in a few weeks of my inaugural Mero Moment the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and several major financial institutions filed for bankruptcy to begin the Great Recession of 2008.
That was ten years ago. America is much different today. I am much different today.
The general theme throughout these several hundred commentaries, as with my career, has been freedom and, over the course, I have tried to explain freedom and what it is not. For instance, my aggressive support for traditional marriage was in the name of freedom – and even many of my conservative, pro-family friends thought my arguments odd. My first memorable interaction with For the People, right here on KVNU, was a heated argument with Tom Grover and Ryan Yonk over the intrinsic value of the natural family and its relationship to freedom.
Freedom has been the theme that has put me at consistent odds with libertarians who mistake liberty for freedom. This contention created Utah’s Libertas Institute. And, even today, this distinction drives several controversies, such as the marijuana initiative. Utah libertarians view it as matter of choice for individuals. Everyone else knows it is a medical issue for society.
My idea of freedom became my conservatism and then my conservatism was freed to advocate for many causes not normally identified as conservative. Utah’s support for comprehensive immigration reform – not to mention our state’s compassionate view of undocumented immigrants – is due, in no small part, to my conservative ideas.
Admittedly and unapologetically, I have used many of these commentaries to defend my faith – well, more so to ravage those liberals and progressives who oppose my faith. In many ways, I became the tip of the spear to say what my Church could not say. While my Church often took public stands on important moral issues and left those opinions to hang in the wind, I was free to explain their importance and defend them.
In recent years, these commentaries have been directed at and against ideologies masquerading as conservatism and very unfreedom-like behaviors. For more than two years now, I have been arguing against Donald Trump and have tried to make the case as to why he is unfit to be president and why the right-wing love affair with him is not only idiotic but a betrayal of principle in the highest order.
I said I am much different today than I was ten years ago. This is true personally as well as professionally. In the refiner’s fire I have learned a great deal about myself. I was fired from my longtime job leading Sutherland Institute six years into these commentaries – that hurt me deeply, affected me acutely and, in the end, made me a better person.
But, like so many other public people who have seemed to move away from their past record, I think my old team has moved away from me. Whether because of right-wing ideologues, Trumpites or libertarians, conservatism today is not my conservatism. I did not leave conservatism, today’s conservatism left me. The freedom that today’s crazies defend is not my freedom.
But none of this is why the Mero Moment must come to an end. Frankly, I have said about all that should have been said about freedom in Utah these past ten years. You either get it by now or you do not. There is always something to be said. But, for now, those things will need to be said by others.
I have deep love and respect for my time with my friends at the Radio Ranch – from Tom Grover and Ryan Yonk to Tyler Riggs, who actually hosted the first Mero Moment, to my good friend Jason Williams who has dealt with the brunt of my experiences on For the People. I have tremendous gratitude for Kent and Eric Frandsen and, of course, the lovable Bill Walter – each of who has made these ten years comfortable and welcoming.
So, I sign off and wish everyone happiness and peace.
I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.