Politics in the Beehive State would be infinitely more hilarious if there weren't so much at stake.
Are you like me: When you read stories about Utah politics, do you alternate between chuckling and eye-rolling, and Internet searches for jobs and real estate listings in other states?
Generally, I am disappointed in Utah's lopsided political balance. And while I am of the liberal persuasion, I like to believe I would be equally dismayed if Utah were disproportionately left-leaning. The best government is that in which there is an actual competition of ideas and philosophies.
Take, for example, the Utah Legislature. A super-majority of one party --- the GOP -- rules both the House and Senate, and members make most of their decisions in caucus meetings, many of which are closed. Then said Republicans come to the floor of their respective chambers and pass bills without much chit-chat, let alone DEBATE, because the deciding's already been done. After which, reliable go-alonger Gov. Gary Herbert rubber stamps the decisions by signing almost everything into law.
It may be efficient, but it produces the kind of governmental policies that, for example, don't adequately care for the poor or properly fund public schools and state-run universities. But they do provide too-generous tax breaks for the wealthy.
But enough of my liberal soapboxing.
The real test of Utahns' devotion to good governance will come in 2016. That's when the junior senator from Utah, Mike Lee, stands for re-election. No matter what happens between now and then, that election will reveal Utahns' seriousness about good government.
Lee is a clown. I know clowns, because I'm a clown, too. I scribble 600-word columns each week hoping to entertain my audience. Lee aims to bring smiles to his constituency, as all entertainers do, but the people cheering him on are interested in engineering federal government shutdowns and serious threats to the United States' ability to pay its debt. (If you want to know Sen. Lee's personal feelings about paying his debts, Google "Mike Lee" and "foreclosure," then read up.)
Pardon my venting, dear readers, but I've had a gutful of political self-righteousness, hypocrisy, grandstanding and low partisan tactics (for an example of the latter, see the previous parenthetical phrase).
And that goes for Democrats, too. Utahns who belong to the party of Jefferson are inconsequential in this state, so they can't be blamed for much besides failure to win elections.
In short: Searching for people to admire in the realm of politics is enough to make a person despair.
And that's why I'm inclined to support the Count My Vote effort, which might just upset the Beehive State's intra-party apple carts. I have a desperate hope the lawmakers we keep electing -- like Lee in the U.S. Senate, John Swallow as Utah attorney general and the out-on-the-fringe members of the Utah Legislature -- might be fewer in number if they aren't chosen by the most radical elements of both parties.
I like the idea of direct primaries. More voters will get to decide, and that's a better bet for slightly more sensible leadership. In theory. I hope. Perhaps.
Because if that doesn't fix the mess we're in, well, we'll have more Mike Lees in our future. And that won't be good for Utah or the United States of America. The Lee mistake is Utah's fault, and we can't allow it to happen again.
Unload on Don at email@example.com.