We Elected Them | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

We Elected Them 

Taking a Gander: Think voter suppression is only for battleground states? Watch out for Utah lawmakers.

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Gosh! You could've fooled me. Since last Nov. 6, I've held the naïve belief that the 2020 election was over.

When the decisive popular vote had been tallied and verified, and the electoral college had cast its votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr., I—along with many of my fellow Americans—exhaled! The long-awaited sigh of relief represented a joyful moment as we believed the multiple moral failures of the Trump reign would soon be over.

There was dancing in the streets, a satisfying sense that help was on its way and that the corruption of the DOJ, the legislative process and the court system would cease. There were more than a few happy revelers singing the words of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz: "Ding-dong! The wicked witch is dead. ... wake up, the wicked witch is dead: She's gone where the goblins go: Below, below, below." And most faithful Americans knew that "below, below, below" was Trump's well-earned reward.

After the election, Americans began imagining the possibilities—a more honest and transparent White House, a president who could actually string two words together, an end to outrageously retaliative politics and a first lady who could ponder our country's problems instead of parading down a perpetual fashion show runway.

But there was always that ongoing background-static of King Trump's claims that the election hadn't been fair and that his rightful place was, still, in the Oval Office. And, that static was certainly anticipated by those who had been accurate observers of his past behavior. No matter the results of the election, his playbook would certainly mandate three things: 1. The endless stream of lies would continue. 2. He would always vigorously pursue those who had opposed his dangerous nonsense, and 3. His delusions of grandeur would never allow him to accept that he was "loser in chief."

And, thus, the Jan. 6 fiasco at our Capitol should have been totally anticipated. Anyone, who was paying attention would have known that a quiet transition of power was unrealistic, at best. After losing the election, most Americans hoped that Trump would, indeed, go away quietly into the night. But how could we have ever believed that the insanity of the Trump presidency would resolve into an orderly exit?

Seven months later, the imaginary bogeymen of the Trump presidency are still alive. Not only are they alive, but they are showing surprising strength. Congressmen, senators and many of the average Joe Blows on-the-street are deluded enough to listen to the endless crap that originates from the former president. Even worse, many of the very people who should be leading Americans to show their patriotic stripes are remaining Trump puppets—manipulated by a handful of strings and fully committed to playing the dirty game of attempting to invalidate Biden's election.

It doesn't matter that election observers have labeled the 2020 election a victory for honest, free elections and that the courts have affirmed Biden's win. An ex-prez, whose only substance is a fat belly of lies, cannot possibly fail his adoring sycophants by allowing something true to issue from his mouth.

But the worst calamity in the wake of Trump's presidency is the Republicans' dedication to undermining the election process and the fear that keeps legislators in the grip of a madman. Somehow, Trump's deluded followers have come to believe that they can never win again without dismantling the essentials of democratic elections, and they have set out—by hook or by crook—to make sure that elections go their way.

Directed by a Trump shadow presence, hundreds of voter suppression laws are being introduced in a number of states, all aimed at making sure there will never again be an election that's fair. Somehow, I believed that these laws were designed mostly to prevent the counting of minority votes and that most of the efforts to dismantle access to the polls ware confined to Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Arizona.

Sadly, Utah legislators are right there, undermining your vote and giving the worst states a run for their money. For example, a new 2021 law will make it harder for voters to affiliate with a political party close to a primary election. Lawmakers also now require those gathering signatures for initiatives and referendums to be paid employees. This will make the signature-gathering process, often done by volunteers, that much more fraught—all part of their plan, right, since they've shown, time and again, their true colors by rewriting initiatives passed by voters.

Think about it, fellow Utahns: You made your voices heard, and now your own Legislature is dedicated to dismantling your decision. All I can say is, "Shame on them." Unfortunately, we elected these weak-kneed toadies, so it's reasonable to point the finger: Shame on us.

Academics typically avoid taking visible political stands, but 188 of them recently signed a "Statement of Concern," which ended in these words: "We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state Legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment."

Among the signatories were political science professors from America's most renowned universities, including some of Utah's finest academics.

Fellow Utahns, our democracy is hanging in the balance. Take a stand; voice your disgust at our rogue, traitorous legislators, and listen to the truth. Without your participation—and your insistence on having your vote count—American democracy—once a shining light of our world—will not last.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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