If they’re really all idiots, why do we keep voting for them?

Every spring, it seems that at least one complaint is on everyone’s mind: the Utah Legislative session.

The jokes about our representatives’ intelligence-or lack thereof-run rampant, as every year it seems as though the folks up on the hill seem to come up with an even more ridiculous idea than the year before. Between bills trying to get Utah out of the U.N. and bills defining marriage (again), following the doings of our elected officials is just a hoot-and-a-half.

Well, the 45-day session is finally over, and there’s nothing really to be done about what did, or didn’t, happen-except perhaps learn for next year.

The fact is that, even though it’s a gigantic clich, those who don’t become involved in the political process don’t have the right to complain. If we are ever going to improve the quality of our elected officials, we have got to stop complaining and start actually doing something.

Why do we invariably have the same objections about state government every year? We complain that our representatives don’t listen to constituents, that the governmental process isn’t transparent enough, that lawmakers waste too much time and money, that lobbyists have too much power and influence and that our representatives are just out-and-out idiotic.

The criticisms are never new, which doesn’t really make sense. You would think that in a democracy, a dissatisfied electorate would result in political change.

The problem is that, despite everyone’s willingness to complain, very few are really willing to become educated about the process and hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

Today at noon, the Hinckley Institute of Politics is going to host a forum wrapping up the legislative session. Four legislators will be on campus to discuss the bills that passed, failed and died in committee in the last month-and-a-half. This is an amazing opportunity for students to meet their elected officials face-to-face and start understanding why certain things happened and others didn’t-and an opportunity for these legislators to see that college students care about state politics.

The 18-24 age demographic is notorious for its lackluster political involvement, especially at the local level. While we might want to ignore state government for roughly 10 months out of the year, the fact is that every spring we realize that state government really does have a big impact on our lives. The power legislators hold is proven when they decide to do things such as fund the Marriott Library renovation, as they did in 2005, or cut $300 million in higher education funding, as they did this year.

This November is the 2006 midterm elections, which means some of our local representatives are up for job review. Instead of spending next spring complaining, let’s spend this fall getting decent representatives elected.

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