Jim Jardine says it's almost scary how lucky he's been. He had a happy childhood and now he's having a happy adulthood. He has a wife he's crazy about and four wonderful children. He has a job that's challenging, and he lives in his favorite place in the world, the valley that his great-great-grandfather helped settle 141 years ago.
It's not an extraordinary life, and that's just the point."I regard myself as a beneficiary of the quality of life Utah has historically produced," says Jardine. "And I fear that my children won't have the same chances I had." And that, he says, is why he has spent the past 10 months working to defeat tax initiatives A, B and C.
"I've invested my life in Utah."
Jardine is one of several anti-initiative volunteers who have become publicly visible lately debating the issue at Rotary clubs and on TV.
He credits his year as a White House fellow, working under then Attorney General Griffin Bell, with changing his perspective on community involvement.
"He absolutely reversed the sense I had that one person couldn't make a difference. . . . He had such a strong sense of what could be done." In tribute, Jardine and his wife decided to name their youngest son Griffin.
Even Bell couldn't keep Jardine in Washington, though. "In Washington," Jardine decided, "most people's goals are in the hands of other people. And we decided we wanted to raise our kids in Utah. Besides, I feel disoriented when I'm out of sight of the Wasatch range for very long."
It was when he got back from Washington that he began to become politically involved, serving on various Republican party committees. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jardine also serves on the Institutional Council of the University of Utah, his undergraduate alma mater, and was a board member of the Utah Technology Finance Corp.
Well-read, with a quote for every occasion, Jardine did not grow up surrounded by controversial issues. At the dinner table the conversation usually turned to baseball. And of course there was all that good food, prepared by his mom, a former food editor of the Deseret News. Jardine says that he woke up nearly every day during those years listening to his mother typing her stories. Winnifred Jardine would get up at 4 a.m. to work before her family stirred.
He says that from his mother he inherited an ability to get by on very little sleep, a talent that has helped him during the past months' marathon efforts.
In the past decade, says Jardine, there hasn't been an issue in Utah as important as the tax initiatives.
"It affects how we enter the 21st century - whether we control our own destiny and continue the quality of life that has made this a wonderful place, or whether the forces play themselves out in an increasingly competitive world."
Jardine faults his opponents for creating a feeling of "divisiveness and antagonism - an us vs. them attitude that in my view will only hinder Utah's ability to compete."
"The irony of the initiatives," charges Jardine, "is that the people who will be hurt the most are the little people."