No political party has a monopoly on good ideas. That's what Washington, D.C., fails to understand. As chairman of the Utah Republican Party, I have reached out on behalf of all Utah Republicans to many different groups to understand their perspectives and work together to make Utah better.
Just this past week. the state GOP supported a bill in the Legislature being run by a Democrat to allow Election Day voter registration. We are proud to work with our Democratic colleagues to improve Utah's lackluster voter participation.
That's why it was troubling when we learned that in the midst of serious sequestration budget cuts, crushing deficits and debt, record unemployment and a complete lack of common sense in Washington, that Rep. Jim Matheson is spending his time, energy and taxpayer money running federal legislation to mandate how Utahns can vote instead of joining in the fight to increase voter participation in Utah.
Matheson introduced a bill last week that would bar states from allowing voters to vote a straight party ticket. It is reasonable to deduce that he could benefit in his next re-election campaign by running this legislation. He won his last election by just 768 votes and there were over 50,000 GOP straight-ticket votes. I can see the argument against straight-ticket voting. But, that choice should be left to individuals and for a time when America's government is less dysfunctional.
I would have welcomed a discussion with Matheson before he took it upon himself to have the federal government further dictate life in Utah.
The new wave of federal regulations that are motivated by the argument that Americans don't make rational choices so government needs to intervene on their behalf is puzzling in a time when Washington has failed in its own decision-making.
Matheson says that things are too partisan in Washington, D.C., and that until people on both sides of the aisle work together nothing will change. And he is right. It is hypocritical of him to run a bill that affects so many people in Utah without reaching out to the various stakeholders, especially during a time when Utah Republicans and Utah Democrats are working together to improve voter participation.
But even more, it is a tragedy that Matheson is focused on winning his next election instead of the cataclysmic problems that have left the American people desperate, disappointed and disgusted with Washington. Now is the time to put Utah first and get to work on the serious challenges that face our country.
Straight-ticket voting should be nowhere near the top of the list of legislative priorities in Washington.
Thomas Wright is chairman of the Utah Republican Party and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.