It would be easy to dismiss as political posturing that spiel that Jim Matheson gave to the Utah County Democratic Convention earlier this month.

Utah's lone Democratic congressman said that Republicans — the ones who dominate the Utah Legislature — are not listening to their constituents, and therefore, it was time for a change.

There's just one problem with what he said: He was right.

Republicans aren't listening.

Why should they?

They can do anything they want in office because they know they'll always get re-elected.

Democrats not named after a father who was once a popular governor have little chance. The score is Republicans 76, Democrats 28 for both houses of the state Legislature (and only five of those 28 Democrats are outside of metro Salt Lake City).

All you have to do is slap "Republican" next to someone's name on the ballot, and they're in. Democrats have about as much chance as the Clippers in Boston.

John Kerry could win if he put an "R" after his name. All Utahns do at the ballot box is look for the magic letter. This is one R rating they support.

Just win the Republic nomination and a politician is home free.

All of which means there is no accountability for Republicans since their re-election is virtually assured.

Republicans can ignore the will of the people regarding school vouchers without repercussion. They can ram through voucher legislation when clearly they are going against public sentiment. They can try to circumvent referendums — the last chance for citizens to be heard. They can try to declare referendums NON-BINDING.

Doesn't matter. Nobody remembers come Election Day.

They can continue to push the voucher movement even after it was defeated by a referendum, and no one will care in November.

They can ignore the will of the people on the issue of gifts from lobbyists. They can continue to act like International Olympic Committee big shots — the ones they distanced themselves from when the trouble started — by collecting goodies such as tickets to Jazz games and dinners and airline tickets, all the while claiming that none of it clouds their judgment.

They can ignore the will of the people — clearly stated by numerous polls — regarding public funding of a soccer stadium. They can ignore two years of intense and costly study on the issue. They can ignore the carefully considered decision of a county mayor not to spend county money on the stadium and order him to do so. They can ignore two audits that find that public funding of the stadium is a bad deal.

All it took was Curt Bramble, John Valentine, the governor and the rest of the boys on the hill to say everybody was wrong, that they knew better than the rest of us, that we little people couldn't possibly understand that this thing was good for us. They threw public money into the stadium anyway.

After all, they don't have to worry about getting re-elected.

They don't even have to act like Republicans. They can raise taxes until Utahns carry one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation.

They can ignore public support for a bipartisan redistricting committee to maintain their stranglehold on power.

Doesn't matter. They're untouchable. They're accountable to no one.

They can even say something incredibly stupid that angers half the citizenry and still get the nomination. All they have to do is give Chris Buttars that R-rating and they believe that will be enough to reclaim his office. Not that they're confident to the point of arrogance.

They could vote to make Utah part of Canada, and it wouldn't matter come November.

In the end, Bramble and the gang believe they know better, that they are far wiser and smarter than we are, ignoring the point of government by representation.

All they need is the R rating.


Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. Please e-mail [email protected].