This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Here's a salient fact: For every dollar Utah spends on Medicaid, the federal government usually matches it with three. About 37,400 Utahns make their living working for the feds. Federal money amounts to more than a quarter of the state's yearly budget, projected at $13 billion in the next fiscal year.
So on what grounds does Gov. Gary Herbert bewail a federal government that he says "refuses to be constrained by its proper and constitutionally limited" role?
Evidently, the "federal overreach" pertains to long-standing battles over ownership of Utah's Revised Statute 2477 dirt roads, paths and snake trails; Medicaid; multiple use of public lands; and President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.
The fact is, though, Utah has always relied heavily on federal money for disaster relief, education, science, industry, parks, water, community development, law enforcement, airports, freeways, mineral leases, military installations you name it.
State and federal dollars are inextricably mixed always have been, always will be. That's what happens when you join the United States, which Utah did in 1896.
Today's toxic political atmosphere is partly to blame, as we can see in the debates between the Republicans who want to seize control of the White House. It's like watching bullies fight for schoolyard domination.
Congress is endlessly at odds with itself, finding scarce middle ground on things as crucial as keeping the government operating and avoiding a default on its debts.
Meanwhile, the Utah Legislature has a supermajority of Republican senators and representatives, and the governor's office seems destined for a Herbert re-election or yet another Republican in office.
Many of the candidates for U.S. House seats align with the Patrick Henry Caucus, which holds the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment as virtual gospel.
So what becomes of us who identify as both Utahns and Americans?
The federal government is not some monstrous overlord; if it were, millions of people wouldn't join the armed forces to protect the nation, nor would 2 million people work in coveted federal jobs. And why do we sing the national anthem before football games?
I've had my share of despair over administrations overseen by presidents I didn't think deserved the job. Same with Congress.
But fundamentally, we all belong to a nation that has at times shone with greatness and at other times dissolved into discord and disorder. That doesn't, however, mean that the federal government is all wrong all the time.
Rather than erect a "bulwark against federal overreach," as the governor put it, the people must be fully engaged in forging governments state and federal that work for all the people.
That way, we don't have to make a choice between being Utahns and Americans. We can be both.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @pegmcentee.