This fall, we were elected to the Utah state Legislature as the youngest members of our respective bodies. At face value, we as legislators, and the districts we represent, could not be more different from each other. One represents the rural conservative 5th District of the House in Cache Valley, and the other represents the liberal urbanized seat of Salt Lake City’s 2nd District in the Senate. Regardless of these apparent differences, we have a shared criticism of the current state of Washington politics and this senseless government shutdown.
It is unfortunate that some of this country's newest representatives should have to criticize an elected leadership far older and more experienced than we, but the rigid partisanship exhibited by our representatives in Washington is undermining the principles of compromise we have all been elected to promote and protect. Republicans and Democrats both have failed us. One need only look at the ballooning federal deficit, our broken immigration system, the failed promises of social programs or an oft-shuttered government. The current shutdown is just one more glaring example of a broken political process.
Recent polling suggests that 3 in 4 Americans find the current shutdown of the federal government embarrassing. These numbers include a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. This impasse is bad for local elected representatives who are still interested in popular sovereignty and statecraft, harms working families who must forgo paychecks and pay mortgages, stifles our economy and damages the credit and credibility of our country.
Washington could stand to learn a thing or two from Utah. Year in and year out, nearly 90 percent of the bills that pass through our body do so with bipartisan support. We create and balance budgets, fund state programs and promote a strong and vibrant economy. Our debates are just as passionate as any other place in this nation, but we maintain dignity and respect for each other and place the needs of our constituents over partisan rancor.
America is a melting pot of cultures, customs, languages and ideas. No government that represents such a diverse fabric is immune from the natural tensions that arise among our communities, but we must learn to work together. The founding principles of this government necessitate give and take, requiring us to find value in each other’s perspectives. We are better because of our differences, not in spite of them. Without this spirit, our country cannot survive.2 comments on this story
These are the principles we were elected to uphold. The obligation to solve problems while maintaining decency is the responsibility of all those who have earned the public's trust. As legislators, we are both committed to fervently representing our own districts, doing so in ways that make Utah a better place for all its citizens. As Lincoln observed at the end of the Civil War, “We are not enemies, but friends.” This has always been the path to making America great. We deserve a government that is dependable, respectful, transparent and, at the very least, open. The future of this great country and the future of all Americans depends on it.