If You're Happy...

If You're Happy...

“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!”

(Scattered clapping)

“If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it, if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”

(Scattered clapping and mixed looks of disgust.)

(As if to himself…) “Oh, well. You can’t make everybody happy.”

The State of Utah has a lot of problems. Among them is the recent bill passed in the State Senate to replace the Medicaid expansion proposal which passed in November by the majority of voters. Other members of the United Utah party have posted about this issue, which I think are worth reading.

As I’ve tried to research more on this issue and educate myself, one thing that stands out to me is the numbers. Proposition 3 passed by a fairly narrow margin. 53.32% voted Yes, while 46.68% voted No. That’s 46.68% of voters who didn't want Proposition 3 as it was written.

Oh, well. You can’t make everybody happy, right?

It’s no secret that citizen initiatives may not stand the test of the State Legislature’s editing pen. And that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes there are aspects of initiatives which are inconsistent with certain realities, like how much things will cost and the feasibility of implementation. The Legislature has the right and responsibility to make necessary adjustments. Ideally, this is also an opportunity for the Legislature to step in and help negotiate something that more people could be happy with.

Sometimes this can happen even before a citizen initiative goes to ballot. They create a compromise ahead of time, like when they passed SB 54 before the first “Count My Vote” initiative went to ballot. And they’ve done this for several other public initiatives, with varying levels of success.

But when an initiative does go to ballot, and passes, it doesn’t mean that the Legislature ceases to be the Legislature. There are more opportunities for negotiations, deliberations, and clarifications before settling on a bill that works. And this may mean making adjustments to initiatives already supported by a majority of voters.

In this case, people are upset because these adjustments “overrule”  the will of the majority of voters, in this case, 53.32%. But is it just a yes or no situation? Should the majority -- as was determined in the narrow victory -- matter, and no one else?

Speaking of majority, it is worth noting that our representatives don’t represent everyone. They represent the people who vote for them and/or make it possible for them to be reelected. Since they know they can’t make everyone happy, they just focus on reelection and making their supporters and party leaders happy.

Are we any different? Like, why did 46.68% of voters vote No? Have we asked them what problem they have with Proposition 3? Do they have specific concerns which, with some reasonable adjustments, could change their “No” to a “Yes”? Or are we just assuming this 46.68% of voters are unreasonable and not worth listening to?

There has to be a better way. And that’s why I joined the United Utah party.

To me, it’s not good enough to simply put forward a two-sided, yes or no, all or nothing scenario, and then let the majority win.  Whether that be the majority of voters or the majority of legislators, or the simple majority of people I agree with. I want everyone’s input so that a whole lot more people can be happy -- an overwhelming majority.

I don’t like how our Legislature handles government because it’s all about the majority doing whatever they want. No one else has a chance, no one else matters. I don’t think narrow margin initiatives do much better.

Until we are willing to work with and recognize the contributions of everyone, we’re going to get more of the same.  Tyranny of the majority, either the majority of voters or the majority of Legislature members or the majority of whatever.  We have to reach for more than that. It’s time to change that scattered clapping into a thunderous applause!

It’s time to be United.

This article was written by Emily Bergeson. This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily all members of the United Utah party. We highly encourage all citizens to continue to research this and other issues to arrive at personal conclusions. Civic engagement and diversity of opinions are fundamental to the United Utah Party's unique approach to politics.