Election solution may be a Pyrrhic victory – Mero Moment, 3/11/14

This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations. (Scroll down for podcast.)

CapitolnightAs the legislative version of the Count My Vote initiative is signed into law, we should reflect on its meaning. State Senator Curt Bramble did a remarkable job in countering the initiative by consuming its vital parts and making it a legislative solution rather than a special interest victory. Even though the end result is that Utah voters are now strapped with a dual electoral system that will only add more divisiveness to Utah politics, Bramble’s expert move temporarily frustrated political liberals and cut off their momentum at the knees.  The Legislature became the solution, not political elites.

But this legislative solution looks to be a Pyrrhic victory. In this new dual electoral system, people of principle will run inside the ongoing caucus/convention system and people of pragmatism will use the signature/primary system – and, depending on the most pressing issues of the time, people of principle in elected office might find the need to join the ranks of the pragmatists just to stay there.

The bottom line is that principle will lose ground to pragmatism – meaning limited government will lose ground to Big Government. It’s tough enough now for principled leaders of limited government in the Utah Legislature to stand against the tide of special interest demands and cultural shifts. It will soon be impossible.

Count My Vote makes Utah a worse place to live, work and raise a family. Providing an alternative path for liberals and moderates to get elected in the Republican Party means Utah changes forever. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times – freedom will lose permanent ground.

If nothing else, Count My Vote is a tactical political maneuver by pragmatists to reach out to what they see as the next wave of political power: The Millennial generation. And we don’t have to guess about those results. Millennials lack three basic elements required to maintain a free society. They don’t work, they don’t marry and they don’t go to church. They are the “youth vote” Count My Vote supporters say is vital to court and who are underrepresented in Utah politics.

Folks, prudence is different than pragmatism. Prudence ensures society doesn’t throw out the baby with the bath water. On the other hand, for these “pragmatic” Millennials, the baby has no value and the bath water might as well be whipped cream. There is no such thing as “principled pragmatism,” and yet Count My Vote’s tactical outreach to Millennials implies there is – and that’s the real problem for freedom in Utah now that Count My Vote is law.

State Senator Stuart Reid succinctly explains how this new law will change Utah’s political landscape for the worse. He writes, “The inevitable liberalization of the Legislature will place at risk much of the fiscal discipline that Utah has been known for. … The public will pay more taxes so that the politicians can spend more money on the insatiable demands of special interests.”

And regarding social issues, Senator Reid states, “The public virtues previously cherished by Utahns and protected by the law will be degraded. Alcohol laws will be liberalized; parental rights and control will be supplanted by government dominion; traditional marriage will be redefined; life of the unborn will be further devalued; and religion and its freedoms will be circumscribed in the public square.”

The new Count My Vote law cheapens the price of freedom. Some people call that democracy. I call it imprudent pandering.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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