Redistricting: Why Utah ought to carve up S.L.

 

Here is my advice to the state Legislature on redistricting: Carve up Salt Lake City and dilute the more liberal parts of Salt Lake County.

I say this as a conservative, as someone who works each and every day to protect the cause of freedom. I don’t say this to disrespect or diminish in any way the personal political feelings of residents in those areas.

I say this as someone who understands that growing urban areas are an enemy to freedom. I don’t say this to imply that the citizens who live in those areas are enemies to freedom.

I say this as a student of public policy who knows that urban areas are inherently (and necessarily) overregulated and consumed with the behaviors of everyone – it’s natural that urban communities will be laden with rules as more people are crammed together in a small space (think homeowners associations).

Urbanites are forced to become liberals and socialists if they’re not that way from the outset. That statement includes businessmen who typically would otherwise embrace free markets in other settings. Put the Salt Lake business community in charge of prosperity and growth and they’ll turn free markets into crony capitalism faster than you can say Babylon – not because they’re greedy, but because their urban world becomes the center of their universe. Things like “infrastructure” become so important to the movement of people, and then that movement has to be “managed” properly (Utah is the “best managed” state!) and, once managed, human enterprise has to be aligned with the “vision” of the business community.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Notice that rural locations don’t behave this way and tend to maintain a modicum of respect for freedom and the values that preserve that freedom. But it usually is this way for big cities.

So the state Legislature would be wise to protect us from ourselves and dilute this destructive influence: Carve up Salt Lake City and offset its urban liberalism and crony capitalism with the middle-class values of suburbia and the conservative influences of Utah’s rural areas.

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  • http://twitter.com/TheInfamousUTD Dimitri Moumoulidis

    As if you need to worry about the gestapo doing it…

  • Anonymous

    This argument would benefit from some definitions.  Exactly what are the freedoms rural residents have that urban ones don’t?  Are you defining it as freedom from government regulation?  Also, what makes you think liberals don’t respect freedom?  It seems to me that freedom from economic oppression is as important as freedom from government oppression. At least I get to vote for government representation; I had no voice in what Goldman Sachs did.

    In any case, the right to vote should not be based on political philosophy.  Everyone across the spectrum is entitled to vote and have their vote count equally.

    • Paul Mero

      First, in this context, I’m not confusing “freedom” with “rights” as you seem to.  I’m not suggesting that one American has constitutional rights that another American does not have.  What I’ve said is 1) urban citizens tend to be liberal, 2) rural/suburban citizens tend to be conservative, 3) liberals tend to destroy lasting freedom, 4) conservatives tend to encourage lasting freedom, 5) SLC and parts of SL County are hotbeds of liberalism in an otherwise conservative state, 6) a conservative state is a good thing, 7) the state legislature ought to use the rest of the state in its redistricting process to dilute the liberalism of SLC and parts of SL County, and 8) this said as a conservative.

      Points 1 & 2 are hardly debatable.  Points 3 & 4 are debatable.  Point 5 is hardly debatable. Point 6 is debatable. Point 7 is debatable.  Point 8 is hardly debatable.

  • Claire10322

    So Paul, freedom of thought is only for people who agree with you?

    • Paul Mero

      Of course not.  But, evidently, redistricting is only for people you agree with.

  • Pingback: 10/10 FTP: Sutherland: “Carve up SL City!,” Romney vs. The Raptured, Cache County considering emissions testing | KVNUFTP()

  • Anonymous

    Paul hits the proverbial nail on the head with that commentary.  For an even deeper understanding into  progressive urban values and agenda check out this:  http://www.urbanarchipelago.com/

  • Joan Thomas

    Mr. Mero.  As you use the word ‘Freedom’ in your “advice to the Legislature”, please define Freedom to us, as you understand it.      Freedom from, to, of …  and please be specific !  
    Mero comments, “…I say this as someone who understands that growing urban areas are an enemy to freedom. I don’t say this to imply that the citizens who live in those areas are enemies to freedom…”Frankly. Mr. Mero, this makes no sense!Homes, Diverse and hundreds of Churches, Museums, Libraries, Universities, The Legislature, Temple Square, Freeways, Trains, The Zoo, Symphony Hall, Theatres, Great Restaurants, Cars, Schools,  Energy Solutions, Delta Center and OhSoManyOthers,  are All in Urban/City areas are the “enemies of freedom” as you suggest?   Really? Oh, and us Urban citizens/human beings who bleed red/white/blue are what?  Innocent creatures corrupted by all of the above into (Yuk) Liberalism/Democrats and thus we are The Enemy of Freedom?  I’m submitting this with a bit of sarcasm and with all due respect!  I hope the Legislators are more intelligent than to accept your (and Sutherland’s) advice, and that they will be Fair with ALL of Utah’s citizens who wish to be honestly represented.  The pizza slice to dilute or destroy the votes of innocent city folks in Salt Lake County who are the “enemies of freedom” is flat out wrong.  We deserve representation, as well as our rural relatives and friends.  — It’s the American way. 

  • Joan Thomas

    Mr. Mero.  As you use the word ‘Freedom’ in your “advice to the Legislature”, please define Freedom to us, as you understand it.      Freedom from, to, of …  and please be specific !  
    Mero comments, “…I say this as someone who understands that growing urban areas are an enemy to freedom. I don’t say this to imply that the citizens who live in those areas are enemies to freedom…”Frankly. Mr. Mero, this makes no sense!Homes, Diverse and hundreds of Churches, Museums, Libraries, Universities, The Legislature, Temple Square, Freeways, Trains, The Zoo, Symphony Hall, Theatres, Great Restaurants, Cars, Schools,  Energy Solutions, Delta Center and OhSoManyOthers,  are All in Urban/City areas are the “enemies of freedom” as you suggest?   Really? Oh, and us Urban citizens/human beings who bleed red/white/blue are what?  Innocent creatures corrupted by all of the above into (Yuk) Liberalism/Democrats and thus we are The Enemy of Freedom?  I’m submitting this with a bit of sarcasm and with all due respect!  I hope the Legislators are more intelligent than to accept your (and Sutherland’s) advice, and that they will be Fair with ALL of Utah’s citizens who wish to be honestly represented.  The pizza slice to dilute or destroy the votes of innocent city folks in Salt Lake County who are the “enemies of freedom” is flat out wrong.  We deserve representation, as well as our rural relatives and friends.  — It’s the American way. 

    • Paul Mero

      Thank you, Ms. Thomas, for your thoughts…and for actually stating your name so I know who I’m chatting with! It seems to me that you’ve read into my suggestion meaning I did not imply, as well as perhaps having some confusion about representative democracy.  Perhaps you can identify for me just one urban area that elects conservatives to public office?  Seattle? Portland? Oakland? SF? LA? Sand Diego? And that’s just the west coast.  Among the few liberal Democrats in the UT legislature, what areas do they represent?

      So, that’s all I was saying about urban areas.

      I understand that conservatives define “freedom” differently than liberals.  Our definition is all over the Sutherland web site. We’ll just have to disagree about that definition.

      I have been amazed about the lack of understanding I read in comments — not just yours — regarding representative democracy.  Primarily, THIS misunderstanding: you’re not “fairly” represented by elected officials with whom you disagree.  In 30 years of politics at its ugliest I have never run across an elected official who did not serve everyone with a legitimate, specific,  government-related problem.  Now that’s just my experience, admittedly.  But to create an impossible standard of “representation” (i.e. “I’m only represented when people agree with me.”) is illogical.

      If I moved to SF right now I realize I would be represented by a liberal Democrat.  I wouldn’t be any more represented than if the official were a conservative.  I’d certainly disagree with my liberal representative, probably all of the time, but my disagreements have nothing to do with my representation.  President Obama represents me as President of the United States…and I rarely agree with him and voted for another person.

      Furthermore, your remarks imply that redistricting decides public opinion.  It does not.  It can decide majorities that, in turn, create laws but it does not create public opinion.  Let me put it this way, your remarks imply that redistricting created a red state and conservative legislators.  But the truth is that the legislature could give you your “donut hole” and carve out a liberal enclave in SLC and it wouldn’t change the fact that Utah is a red state.

      What I have argued is that the only true urban area in Utah, SLC and associated parts of SL County, should be diluted, or offset, by conservative suburban and rural areas.  I admitted that my reasoning is based on my idea that urban areas create a government-oriented mind-set for citizens because everyone is packed together like sardines in community — which condition leads naturally and necessarily to more regulation of lives.

      You should know that I truly believe that government regulation is necessary to actually produce lasting freedom…I’m not a libertarian in that respect.  But natural social circumstances in urban areas foster a narrowmindness (and bias) about the value of “restraint,” which is all government really is.  As a conservative, I believe in limited government (i.e. limited restraint).

      I don’t begrudge people who like urban areas and city life.  I 1) don’t choose it for myself or my family, and 2) prefer the values more prevalent in suburban and rural life.  And, as I wrote in my blog post, I believe those values lead to lasting freedom more so than any values produced in urban areas.

      Lastly, just for a point of reference that extends beyond your comments, I am flabbergasted by how many people confuse redistricting and gerrymandering…as if the mere act of redistricting is gerrymandering.  That only tells me how partisan the critics of the legislature really are and how little they understand the legal definition of gerrymandering.  Redistricting exists to provide numerical representation, not ideological representation.

      What I’ve suggested in my blog post is that the state legislature also use resdistricting to enhance future freedom by diluting the influences of urban life.  That point is hard to criticize when the critics argue the opposite…by using the same logic. 

      • Joan Thomas

        Thank you, Mr. Mero, for responding.  Some months ago I read an article you wrote about Immigration, but other than that I haven’t checked the Sutherland site. I ALWAYS use my name – and welcome response.  

        Mr. Mero, I’m serious when I respectfully ask you to give us your Personal definition of Freedom.  Please!  It shouldn’t be difficult for you to give your definition.      

        Representative Democracy is so easy to understand!  The People vote for other people to represent them.  Ideally ALL of the people who are of age and otherwise eligible VOTE.  You and I know, however, that conservatives/republicans are always trying to suppress or deny votes, thinking that is in their interest. Utah has a low turnout of voters, and Democrats don’t vote because they feel their votes don’t matter;  and Republicans don’t vote because they know Redistricting/Gerrymandering have made their votes unnecessary.  That is what blatant partisan redistricting has done to Utah since the 70s. 

        Nonsense!  Democrats know exactly who represents them and they know why such is true, we are not ignorant.   We are represented by Hatch, Lee, Chaffetz, Matheson and Bishop in Wash DC, and in Utah – almost all Republicans almost everywhere.  

        Where did I imply that redistricting decides public opinion, and what does that mean?  More nonsense!  Of course a donut hole or two would not change Utah from a red to a blue state, but it would create Fairness and that would encourage more voting and participation by citizens —  Ds and Rs.    

        It disturbs me that you, and perhaps others, believe urban citizens are “narrow minded and biased.”  That they don’t care about rural Utah and its concerns.  

        I was born and lived in Eastern Utah,  north of Duchesne, and believe me when I say, I know rural life and values very, very well!   I share many of the values. It was a wonderful childhood and many of us living in cities moved from rural areas to our cities.  We care about the well being of our cities and rural areas, probably as much or more than the citizens in rural areas care about the cities.  Give me/us a break.    

  • Joan Thomas

    Mero comments: “… the state Legislature would be wise to protect us from ourselves …”   REALLY ? 

    In addition Mero writes: “… 3.  liberals tend to destroy lasting freedom, and 4. conservatives tend to encourage lasting freedom.”    

    Again, Mr. Mero, define freedom as you understand it !   and lasting ?   — maybe we need a dictatorship to protect us from ourselves ? 

    I disagree and support honest, fair Representative Democracy. 

  • Sam Sutton

    Wow.   I believe this is a terrible article and an awful position to take.  You’re generalizing about the beliefs and motives of people — your fellow Utahns and Americans — so you can label and berate them.  Terrible. Politics at its worst.  

    I am one of these Salt Lake City “urban liberals” who, according to this article, the Legislature should effectively disenfranchise.  Because of the label you have placed on me I should have no vote, no voice.  

    You don’t know me, or most of my fellow urban liberals, yet you apparently know everything you need to about our politics and our motives.  That’s simply not true.  

    We are fellow Utahns, fellow Americans.  I was born and raised in this beautiful state and choose to make it my family’s home.  But because I live in Salt Lake City, because as an “urbanite” I will be forced to become a liberal and socialist if I’m not that way already, I don’t deserve a vote.  I should be pushed out of effective participation in our democracy because somehow, some way, I hate freedom.  Because my voice is one of greedy over-regulation and oppression.  Well, that’s news to me.  

    Politics should NOT be about generalizing, labeling, and marginalizing each other.  We are, first and foremost, Americans and Utahns, and we have much, much more in common than we have in differences.  But you are apparently willing shove all that aside in the wanton pursuit of political power, using empty talking points and degrading political labels to marginalize others in your own community.  Shame on you.  

    This is a deeply offensive unilateral attack on me, personally, for my beliefs — which are being horribly over-simplified, degraded, and spat upon by this article.  I had some respect for you and your institute, Mr. Mero, until I read this.  Now you have made us enemies for the pettiest of reasons.  

  • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

    Should rural areas also be diluted by included faraway urban areas in their districts?  If Utah were given ten districts, would you suggest slicing Salt Lake County up ten ways, or merely eight?

    Utah’s representation in the congress should reflect Utah.  We have urban areas and rural areas.  I see nothing wrong with allowing the predicted three conservative representatives to dilute the influence of the one moderate one.  It isn’t like District 2 has elected an actual liberal recently anyhow.  You’re making an argument as if something has happened that hasn’t.

    It is strange to me that our legislature is willing to carve out a custom district for Karl Wimmer, who has accomplished nothing legislatively other than being a lap dog and a reliable vote that is relatively compact, but thinks it would be a sin to do the same a little further north.

    At least you admit that it’s all pure politics and taking every advantage you can get.  I praise you for being honest where many in our legislature use any number of excuses to avoid speaking the real rationale for their actions.

    You’ve made a strong conservative case for gerrymandering without trying to hide what you’re doing.

    • Paul Mero

      As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this comment board, the Left has a very difficult time distinuguishing between redistricting and gerrymandering.  It’s always gerrymandering when you don’t get your way.

      • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

        Paul, sadly your response is unresponsive to all of my points other than the judgement call over what is gerrymandering.  I think you’ve laid out a very plain case for how to disenfranchise a portion of the population that you think has harmful ideas and why you want it done.  As you say, gerrymandering is in the eye of the beholder, but in this case the argument you’ve laid out for what you think should be done is pretty much the definition of gerrymandering:
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gerrymandering

        Kudos to you for being forthright in what you want done.  At least the terms of the debate are now clear.

        • Paul Mero

          I don’t see how anyone is disenfranchised (perhaps you might look up the deifintion of THAT word?). Everyone has a vote who is legally allowed to vote.  To “dilute” is not to disenfranchise…it is to avoid what groups like Fair Boundaries are trying to do in creating islands of partisanship.  I happen to think it’s a good idea to, say, have rural votes mix with urban votes…it tends to moderate influences.

          You can cite any dictionary you want about the definition of gerrymandering…the only “dictionaries” that matter in this case are in the court rooms of America — and not one of the plans you’d oppose (I can only speculate) would be ruled as gerrymandering, at least based on legal precedent.

          But I see how you and others here think…when you don’t get your way = gerrymandering…and when I make an argument that’s mine, not yours = I’m obfuscating.

          The sad fact for you and yours is that I’m probably the only conservative in the state willing to even discuss these things with you.

          • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

            Paul, again, thank you for being upfront about what you want accomplished.  It is indeed sad, even pathetic, that our legislature is unable to admit to what you’ve made so clear here.

  • Ross Collier

    Paul, if, as I understand your reply to Joan Thomas, elected officials have a record of serving everyone with  legitimate, specific, government-related problems and redistricting exists to provide numerical representation, not ideological representation, then, providing that “one man, one vote” is honored, why should you or anyone care how redistricting lines are drawn?

    In this commentary, Paul, I wonder if you’ve succumbed to an old temptation. Which is, shall we manipulate the process to limit the influence on law and government of those with whom we disagree? The choice is between increasing the likelihood of government decisions that we favor or reducing the likelihood of our preferred outcomes by allowing the process to give to those with whom we disagree a shot at electing like-minded individuals to government.

    Government for the good of the people as some of us understand the good versus government by the people even at the risk of jeopardizing the good.

    The question at bottom may be this: Is the contract we have with each other as Americans one that insists that we decide our collective fate all of us together or is the contract we have with each other as Americans one that allows any group of us to check the power of contrary voices when such power is ours to exercise?

    • Paul Mero

      Thanks, Ross. “The process to give to those with whom we disagree a shot at electing like-minded individuals to government” is advocacy and education, not resdistricting, in my opinion.  Your opinion implies that the only real “voices” are those elected officials agree with — which is what I’ve argued from the outset: some people seem to think that “represetnation” means elected officials who agree with you.

      I oppose islands of partisanship within the state.  I get that this concept exists naturally nationally. But there’s no need for them in this state.  Let the rural argue with the urban as long as the rural will be forced to pay for the benefits in urban areas, and vice-versa.

      Again, it’s hard for critics to argue against a predominantly conservative map when they want to preserve predominantly liberal islands of partisanship.  All that really says to me is that critics just want what they want…and that’s a point I’ve been making.

      I would think progressives would want to spread their influence in suburban and rural areas?  So why not mix urban and rural voters.  Have at it!!  Argue with each other!!  There’s a nice democratic balance to that, isn’t there?

  • http://twitter.com/theleftshow The Left Show

    The only Freedom you fight to protect, Paul, is your current “freedom” to take actual freedom away from people you don’t like. Not at all a noble goal. What do you call a one religion, one party, one race, one theology government? 

  • Tylerknowsyou

    What an idiot! Haha I’ve never heard such a ridiculous idea. Typical Mormon conservative idiots. I live downtown , I attended the university, and I’m a liberal thinker . Heres my thought regarding your sight. Welcome to the future idiots. Get used to it, old conservatives like yourself need a time machine to go back to the dark ages. You’ve outlasted your usefulness to society. The world is a different place, and morons like your self are extinct. Adapt or become null and void doofus. Let’s split up the districts because we don’t like how the game is being played. Crybabies conservatives.

    • Paul Mero

      And, my friend, how’s that theory working for you and other Utah progressives so far?  Seems to me we’re only having this argument because your side is so far out of power and influence in Utah that the other side doesn’t even have to ask you your opinion.

      • Chunk

        Paul- You’re a jerk

  • Anonymous
  • http://www.facebook.com/danyffeler Dean Nyffeler

    While your carving up SLC, i would suggest that we put a buffer around the Olympus wilderness area. The east benchers seem to want to put buffers around Dinosaur Monuments, Arches, and Canyon Lands and every WSA. What’s good for the hinterlands should be good for lemming land.