In our opinion: Democracy and political participation

Published: Sunday, March 16 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utah’s democratic process and political future is what its citizens make of it. We believe that the compromise SB54 represents the best of politics in this state. It ensures the continuation of system of neighborhood caucuses, while still broadening access to the electoral process. It offers the hope that both Democratic and Republican Parties will seek candidates that appeal to the center of Utah’s political gravity. It could even lead to a revival of a more robust two-party system in the state.

It’s easy to forget that the Democratic Party was once the dominant force in the state’s politics. Prior to 1985, Democrats held the governor’s office for 48 years while Republicans held the office 41 years. The percentage of Republican representatives and senators in the Legislature was only 10 percent in 1935, 34 percent in 1944, 53 percent in 1964, and 64 percent in 1994. Today, of course, 82 percent of legislators are Republican.

A democratic government requires the honest airing of differences of opinion in an atmosphere of civility and respect. It is natural that there will be such differences, about matters large and small. What is most significant, however, is that we remain committed to abide by the norms and procedures of democratic decision-making.

The first and foremost of these principles is that citizens embrace their civic responsibilities and privileges to participate in the political process, and that they do so by attending and voting in the neighborhood caucus of the political party to which they belong. We encourage all to do so.

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