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LETTER TO THE EDITOR - “Phasing the Public Out of Democracy in Utah”

OPINION - April 16, 2023

“While Utah is fairly conservative concerning family values, it has become very liberal when it comes to politics. Utah law already allows elected officials to have a conflict of interest and vote for proposals that benefit them financially; and it bans recalls of elected officials. Now, the Legislature and the Governor just passed a bill to prohibit the public from using formerly legal initiatives to oppose our elected officials when they enact land use decisions that the public opposes.

Assuring that this legislation passed (SB0199), our local State Senator and Representative voted to pass this bill. And, when contacted by constituents, the Senator failed to respond to them. Basically, they don’t like the concept of a pure democracy. Rather, they use one form of representative democracy where they vote for what they want. They represent their wishes rather than the wishes of the majority of constituents.

Democracy began millennia ago in Greece. Then it disappeared for a while before being reborn in England. The USA adopted democracy as our form of government from its beginning. Initially, it adopted a representative form of democracy where our elected officials more often voted how the majority of their constituents wanted them to vote, but that form of democracy has evolved tremendously since then. Now, most elected officials represent their own personal wishes.

Quite frankly, the public is probably the primary cause of this evolution. In Utah, the majority of eligible voters don’t vote. So, a smaller number of family and friends can elect our officials with fewer votes. In Tremonton, only 23-28% of the voters actually vote in local elections. So, Tremonton’s officials get elected with 400-900 votes in a town with over 5,000 eligible voters. This promotes the lack of accountability of our elected officials, where they often vote for what they want, which is to phase out the public from participating in the democratic process.

Switzerland is the only country which uses a significantly pure/direct form of democracy. The public actually votes on the major decisions made there, rather than their legislative body making those decisions. That way, the majority’s wishes are actually enacted.

It’s sad to see our elected officials strive to take the public out of democracy. The public needs to vote and to assure that we elect those that will truly represent the majority’s wishes – before they phase us out completely.”

Jeff Hoedt

Tremonton, Utah resident


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