Mencius, a Chinese philosopher who lived three centuries before Christ, provided priceless advice for kings who misused their power because they failed to know a better way to rule.

Mencius said, “All that matters is that there should be benevolence and rightness. What is the use of mentioning the word profit?”

Mencius' advice to monarchs was cogent, but even more relevant today for democracy.

Benevolence suggests the well-being of all citizens should be the primary goal of government. Rightness suggests justice and fairness be applied equally so that all might prosper. Profit can either be irrelevant or threatening when applying “benevolence and rightness.”

Unfortunately, Utah state legislators do not understand the “benevolence and rightness” required in a representative democracy. Special interest lobbyists take over the annual legislative session to make sure their clients “profit.” And democracy’s promise of freedom, justice and equality is lost. In its place is a tyranny controlled by special interests, and a kind of serfdom for tax-paying citizens who get pitifully little in return for what they pay. A government for the few at the expense of the many.

What would Utah be like if legislators actually practiced “benevolence and rightness” (family values) and dismissed special interests and profit? We would have the enlightened government Mencius proposed, which for today would include clean air, well-funded public schools, intelligent gun regulations and a strategy for addressing the threat of climate change.

Utah could be a state worthy of praise, a model for other states, a state with a promising future.

A soulless GOP tea party political machine continuously in awe of Donald Trump can never get us there.

Ron Molen, Salt Lake City