A New England town meeting is the classic example of pure democracy, but it is impractical for a government serving large populations. Representative democracy then becomes the best solution, but it must remain a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with freedom, justice, and equality for every citizen.
State senators and representatives assume the obligation of honestly representing their constituents exclusively, and adhering to the principle of majority rule. No other interest should in any way compromise this bond.
An authentic representative democracy cannot have:
- A one-party political machine that fails to practice true representation.
- Senators and representatives who claim to defend the family values of constituents yet respond primarily to the demands of special interests, and forget all about the needs and wishes of their voters.
- The majority of campaign contributions (80%) coming from out of state.
- Legislators that are members of a single church and who fail to maintain the separation of church and state by giving the faith even more influence than the special interests.
- A public education system that pays teachers poorly, loses teachers quickly to other states, suffers from crowded classrooms, and cheats Utah children of an education they deserve.
- Toxic air that sickens many and shortens life expectancy.
- Politicians who accept donations with strings attached from special interests.
- Fellow citizens (60,000) denied health insurance the federal government was willing to provide.
- A proliferation of guns with no effective regulation, creating an armed society that destroys the trust citizens should have for each other.
- Gerrymandered voting districts.
- Legislators voting on critical issues behind closed doors.
- The storage of radioactive waste from other states against the will of the majority.
- A traffic and pollution-generating inland port that a majority of Utahns don’t want.
- A majority of legislators who deny climate change.
- Legislators who fight the federal government over land ownership and Obamacare.
- Legislators who are members or the NRA or the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Clearly, these violations prove Utah is not a functioning representative democracy. Worse, citizens are held hostage by a heartless, entrenched political machine that bends over backwards to please the NRA, ALEC, Exxon Mobil and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while rejecting virtually every wish of the majority by claiming critical social needs are too expensive.
Utah is now an oligarchy sponsored by Tea Party Republicans and controlled by Charles Koch, who detests Social Security, Medicare and public schools. Included in this fiasco are Republican voters who fail to understand what has happened to their once respectable, now perverse, Republican party.
And the tyranny will continue until a majority wakes up and realizes that we the people are not being represented. If we were, we would have well-funded schools, clean air, reasonable gun regulations, 60,000 additional Utahns with health insurance and systems in place to address the inevitable threat of climate change. The dump for radioactive waste and the inland port would be history, along with the Oakland seaport, the Lake Powell pipeline and the special rail line for coal. Little wonder public schools are suffering from lack of funding while financing for bizarre projects is being seriously considered by the legislature.
As long as the Tea Party controls the Republican Party, and remains funded by special interests, citizens will never get what they want or need. The bond between representative and constituents is irretrievably violated and a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer exists.
Ron Molen, Salt Lake City, is a retired architect currently painting and writing novels.