Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That quote is attributed to a British politician—Lord Acton. It is still as applicable today as it was when he lived in the 19th century. And it is also just as true in Utah as at the federal level.
Utah politicians do not have absolute power. But they are much closer to it than Utahns should be comfortable with.
For example, the same political party has controlled the Utah legislature for the past 40 years, sometimes with a 3/4ths majority. And they have controlled the governorship since 1984. All statewide officeholders and the vast majority of county officials belong to that one party. The consequence is that, if an elected official can make it through the convention and the primary (which the vast majority do), then they can stay as long as they want in office.
When they no longer want to be in office, they designate their successors. For example, one prominent legislator was asked recently how she decided to run for office. She did not answer that some issue excited her about running or that she was anxious for public service. She said the current legislator contacted her and asked her to run to succeed him. She did, and she won. Often that succession takes place through resignation, not through election. A legislator will resign when a successor is secured, and that successor is duly selected by the party convention delegates. So much for the role of the voters!
But does all of this matter as long as we have good government? Hasn't this one party given us fiscal responsibility, ethics, and concern for the ordinary citizen? Unfortunately, no.
Here are some examples:
- The state bought over $800,000 of a drug for COVID-19 that does not work. The drug supplier got rich off Utah taxpayers.
- The state bought a tracing app for several million dollars when they could have gotten one for free. That is not fiscal responsibility, but it did help the company making the app.
- The state's budget director runs a side business that contracts with the state. That should not be allowed, but it is.
- Some legislators passed legislation providing grants for charter schools while they served on the boards of those charter schools.
- The governor reopened the state due to pressure from legislative leaders and ignored the advice of public health officials that such a move would spike the number of cases.
Those are just a few examples. So, then why not vote for the other party?
Unfortunately, some of the same problems have existed with office holders in that party, although at the local level. Power corrupts.
That is why the United Utah Party exists. That's why we favor:
Campaign finance limits—to reduce incumbency advantage and to break the hold donors have on elected officials in our state.
Term limits—to prevent anyone from feeling entitled to their office, increase competition so voters get to pick representatives, and require rotation in office with its tendency towards fresh ideas and perspectives.
A real independent redistricting commission—to make it harder for legislators to choose their voters by drawing districts favorable to them.
Those are some of the changes we propose. Help us. How?
Join the party, donate, volunteer for the party or a candidate. You can do all that at united.utah.org.
If you are fine with power corrupting in Utah, no need to do anything. But if you are not, it is time to stand up and do your part to change things!
—Richard Davis, Chair