The list goes on and on. Yet I see few people stepping up to the plate to admit that they are a major part of the problem.
In the recent Utah Primary Election, less than one in four registered voters participated. Many will point out that the high-profile races were dominated by Republicans, and voters didn’t want to register as a GOP voter to cast a ballot. But that doesn’t hold water; voters could register immediately at the polls and delete their party affiliation soon after. Registering temporarily as a Republican is a small price to pay for having a voice in the country’s future.
The real reason people don’t vote is laziness and a disinterest in civic issues. Unless a highway is planned to skirt against their backyard hot tub or an evil apartment complex is plotted in their neighborhood, people are more concerned with the details of the TomKat divorce or amused by the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones.
Granted the tenets of the Church of Scientology and the fact that Keith Richards is still alive are more easily discussed than the intricacies of the Affordable Health Care Act – but only the latter affects our daily lives.
The public is easily scared, but not easily informed. A reader told me last week that she has eliminated seafood from her family’s diet due to internet reports of dangerous mercury levels in fish. She’ll tell her friends and she’ll call talk radio; what she won’t mention is a government study which found that a 150-pound person would have to eat 105 pounds of tilapia each week over a lifetime in order to reach a level of mercury associated with health problems (or more than seven pounds of salmon weekly, or three pounds of yellow fin tuna).
We worry and make accusations. In Salt Lake, hundreds of people watched a high school play about a Catholic nun’s attempt to save a man on death row. None of them objected.
The only person who did was a woman who never attended the play, yet the Canyons School District wasted hours tweaking drama policy and apologizing to the non-attendee (You can bet that 95 percent of the voters in this district won’t research the views and actions of the school board candidates in the next election).
I suspect more Utahns can identify the general manager of the Utah Jazz than the names of the two major party candidates for the U.S. Senate seat. I’ll bet that the majority of Utahns who grumble about government overspending and worry about mismanagement of the economy are lackadaisical in establishing a Roth IRA for their own financial future.
The famous line from the comic strip Pogo is still valid: “We have met the enemy and it is us!”
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the ownership or management of this newspaper. In Iron County, 32.55 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the primary election.