Ross McCollin: Don’t let Utah voters off the hook for gerrymandering

Voters elect Republicans knowing full well what they will do with redistricting.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Over 100 people spoke in opposition to the Utah Legislature’s Redistricting Committee's only public hearing for the map proposals, Capitol's House Building, Room 30, Nov. 8, 2021.

Between Nov. 13 and Nov. 17 there were two commentaries and an editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune complaining about the Utah Legislature’s gerrymandering and anti-democratic impulses. First, Don Gale, then Joseph Cramer, then The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board tossing its rocks at the GOP and among other things, asserting legislators are insulating themselves from voters.

Another commonality the above shared is ignoring the elephant in the room.

The Editorial Board offered “The people of Utah and the more reasonable members of the Republican Party should make it clear they’ve had more than enough of their anti democratic impulses.”

C’mon man. Is it too much to ask the editorial board to at least try to proffer a reality based discussion? Don’t the people of Utah (read majority, read Republican, read reasonable or otherwise) make their willing/knowing preference perfectly clear each and every election cycle?

And rather than legislators insulating themselves from voters, aren’t the majority of voters (including the supposedly disaffected) actually willingly/knowingly insulating the legislators (and party) from rebuke by steadfastly voting Republican?

Which brings us to the gerrymandering complaints. Let’s review events: In 2018, voters, apparently unhappy with the Republicans for their 2011 redistricting, voted in favor of the ballot initiative creating the Utah Independent Redistricting Committee. The 2018 Republican representation then denied the power to the UIRC and, in 2020, despite knowing full well in advance the Republican legislators’ disdain for the UIRC and therein their disdain for the supposed will of the people, a majority of voters then chose majority Republican representation, again. And in 2021 that Republican representation unsurprisingly gerrymandered the state even further.

Didn’t voters get exactly what they knowingly voted for? Shouldn’t a candid discussion regarding the peril our democracy faces begin with that unflattering truth and proceed from there?

We the People wield the power (at least for now), not the legislators, not the Republican Party. Folks can reject them and their manufactured divisiveness and anti-democratic actions any time they choose. However, if those Republican voters chanting disaffection were too timid to wield their power and (despite their disaffection) continued to vote Republican in 2020, they have no complaint and don’t deserve democracy. And the loyalists who voted Republican in 2020 (and do so no matter what) don’t appear to be too concerned with democracy.

Given the above, any doubts 2022 and beyond will be deja vu moments all over again? (Apologies toYogi Berra).

So, Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, when addressing the peril our democracy is facing, isn’t it about time to drop the deflecting and assign credit where it rightly belongs?

Ross McCollin

Ross McCollin is semi-retired and resides in South Salt Lake.