Election 2012: Here we go again
It seems like only yesterday I was beating my favorite dead horse, but here we are again with an election just around the corner. The 2012 ticket is set; Mitt Romney has locked up the Republican nomination and will be squaring off against President Barack Obama in November.
Utah’s political observers have speculated that voter turnout will be as much as 12 percent higher than in 2008 due to Romney presence at the top of the ticket. Most seem to agree that it will make this a difficult year for Utah Democrats, even though historically higher voter turnout tends to favor Democrats, especially lower down the ballot.
I honestly don’t know from where this 12 percent estimate is being derived, but it does seem to be the number being tossed about by the “experts.” What I do know is this: For Democrats to succeed in Utah, especially in statewide races, we’re going to need to see much more than a 12 percent increase in voter turnout.
The Republicans have run roughshod over this state for decades, dominating the Legislature, the county commissions, the state constitutional offices and virtually everything outside of Salt Lake City. They manage to do this, quite frankly, because Democrats haven’t managed to organize and energize voters enough to impact the elections.
This year we have a slate of great candidates, from Scott Howell (U.S. Senate) and Peter Cooke (governor) at the statewide level down to Ben McAdams (Salt Lake County mayor) and Sam Granato (Salt Lake County Council) and legislative candidates like Josie Valdez, Jeff Bell, Liz Muniz and Billie Larson, just to name a few.
These are people that are willing to offer themselves up in the fight for a more rational and moderate Utah. They are candidates going out on a limb against serious odds to try to make changes to the ridiculous way our state has been managed for the past several years.
Do you like the fact that there are no statewide protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation? Do you like our government spending $13 million to buy off the losing bidder of a “perfectly legitimate” contract award and then persecuting an innocent woman over it? Do you want more of our tax money wasted paying contract attorneys to sue the federal government, with the price of victory being that our natural heritage is then auctioned off to Halliburton while our children are crammed into overstuffed classrooms and educated at the lowest common denominator?
We have serious issues to solve in this country. We have an economy that is barely starting to recover after eight years of relentless assault by deregulated greed. We have an educational system on the verge of collapse. We have corporations that have been allowed to rape and pillage their way through our land, leaving in their wake unbreathable air and toxic water.
And then we have Republicans, who are more interested in preventing women’s access to birth control and health care than they are in fixing the real problems. They would rather scream and shout about God, guns, gays and gynecology than roll up their sleeves and get to work on fixing things. Orrin Hatch has been in office for 36 years, and has spent the last four doing nothing but playing procedural games, attempting to block any action in the Senate that doesn’t lead to more financial benefits for his wealthy benefactors. Yet we continue to elect him. Why?
There’s a very old saying, “the definition of insanity is continually doing the same thing and expecting different results.” That’s where we are Utah, we continue to elect the same people (some with different names and different faces, but they’re all the same) and yet we expect that somehow something will change. Let me clue you into something: until we change, it won’t.
It’s time for us to come together and support our candidates that are working for change in this state. They are going to need us to volunteer, they are going to need us to donate money, and they absolutely are going to need us to get off of our couches and go vote. Take five minutes and make sure you’re registered. If going to the polls is too much, then fill out the Permanent Vote By Mail form. They will mail your ballot to you, all you need to do is fill it out and send it back.
In closing, don’t even think of giving me any of that “my vote doesn’t matter” nonsense. We’ve had races in Utah decided by as little as 38 votes! Every vote counts, and the one you don’t cast is the one that allows things to continue on the current path.