The changes would have expressly spelled out privacy protections for the voluntary program, which was set to begin in earnest (and, in fact, did launch) later that year. It would have emphasized that digital licenses were voluntary, and it would have kept the digital license act from communicating with any other apps or divulging any location data.
The crowd was worked up about the concept of a digital license, and yet the pilot program had been set in place years earlier with no opposition.
In the end, an obviously frightened committee of lawmakers voted to adjourn rather than consider the bill, which had passed a Senate committee unanimously.
In a similar vein, a ranked-choice voting bill was yanked from an agenda after reports indicated a similar attack was forming.
So, it wasn’t too surprising last week when Gov. Spencer Cox devoted a portion of his talk at the
Utah Economic Outlook and Policy Summit to the phenomenon of what he termed “crazy people” appearing to control the state.
Cox said Utah can’t let a group he said makes up between 4% and 8% of the population decide how to run the state, or the nation. The answer, he said, was for more of the kinds of people who were at the summit — business and community leaders — to show up at hearings.
“I need you, in this room, the silent majority, the exhausted majority, to be just a little bit louder,” he said. “That means we need you in our legislative hearings. Because if 40 crazy people show up, and they have lots of time on their hands, and no one else shows up, then it seems like 80% of our state is crazy, and we know that’s not true.”
More mainstream people have to show up, he said, because “If you don’t, they will.”
The same summit featured Harvard University social scientist, author and commentator Arthur Brooks, who told the audience to stand up to people trying to make you hate. He told them to run to contempt and counter it with light. Don’t strive for the mediocrity of agreement, because this is a nation “of competing ideas.” Become a missionary for better understanding among competing groups.
Cox was right to urge people to become more involved in the legislative process, but he also hit the weakness of that strategy in his comments. Most mainstream people are too busy to attend committee hearings unless they or their companies are directly affected by a pending piece of legislation.
The better message would have been one directed toward lawmakers. Stop cowering in the face of angry mobs filled with misinformation and ignorance.
Granted, that can be hard in an age where many people falsely believe elections are being stolen or that members of an opposing party are the enemy. It can be frightening at a time when Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico have had their homes targeted by drive-by shootings, leading to the arrest of a failed Republican candidate.
To paraphrase the fictional Forest Gump, crazy is as crazy does, and even 4% of a population can do a lot of harm, if motivated.
And yet, lawmakers are elected to represent all their constituents, not just the ones who show up and passionately believe in conspiracies. They shouldn’t let those folks scuttle good legislation.