Poor John Swallow. I don't say that because I know the man, nor do I plan on meeting him. And not that I think him evil, I just have better things to do. Treating sick kids is more rewarding, and the potential of cure is better than with sick body politics.
The guilt or innocence of the attorney general will be determined by proper investigation. If the evidence is worthy of charges, then he should be granted the protection of the law. Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty.
The bigger question we should be asking is Utah guilty of being too Republican? Are we too red like Minnesota or Oregon is too blue? Is lopsided politics giving us and others troubles that would not exist if the elections were more competitive?
There are some who accuse our chief state law enforcer and others of, at a minimum, poor judgment. Personally, he is not the issue. The issue is: Does our electoral system that demands so much money to win cost us our political agency?
Swallow won by a substantial margin in the general election. Who knows if it was because of a better campaign, more money, name recognition, or being the most qualified candidate?
One has to ask, was his election due to the lopsidedness of Utah politics? How many of us voted for him merely because his trademark is an elephant? Do we care more about the label than the individual? Who cast their lot with the attorney general simply because of Romney heading the presidential slate? Have we become blind as a state and only see colors?
To punch a straight ticket is worse than an unhealthy allegiance to some brand of toothpaste. We in Utah are smarter than that. We are highly educated. We have multiple institutions of higher learning. We are a good people who desire to do what is right. However, what is right is not to simply cast a vote for the tagline. In high school we cheered for our school colors. We haven't grown up much if we vote our conscience on style, not statesmanship.
It is as if we have become no better than the fans cheering for their favorite chariot team.
In 532 A.D. during the Byzantine rule of Emperor Justinian, the two sports and political rivals of Constantinople were the Blues and the Greens. They were named for the color of the charioteers' blouses. In an act of rebellion against the conditions of the times and the arrest of fellow hooligans, the two sides rioted. In the ensuing chaos, thousands were killed and half of the city destroyed. They only saw blue or green. In America, it is blue and red. What are we destroying?
We see a party color and we stop thinking. Political labels take over and make us lazy.
Humans form groups. Concurring viewpoints draw believers together. However, it is when we abandon our individual reasoning to groupthink that we also forfeit our liberty. Freedom is not won by all being alike. Dictators control by dressing everyone in identically colored uniforms. If we do not have a diversity of solutions to problems, then we are less free to make proper choices. We choke on our own swallow.
Joseph Cramer, M.D., is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, practicing pediatrician for over 30 years, a hospitalist and clinical associate professor at the University of Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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