Hatch does not represent millennial voters

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

Many opinions have been thrown around on whether Sen. Orrin Hatch should seek an eighth term in office. As a Utah millennial, I would also like to voice my opinion.

After 40 years in office, Hatch has lost sight of his responsibility as a U.S. Senator: represent his constituents. Having held his position longer than millennials have been alive, Hatch is not prioritizing and representing the issues of greatest concern to the millennial generation — Utah’s largest age demographic. It is time we have a representative in the U.S. Senate who will represent our generation and our interests.

The Utah Foundation recently released the results from its 2016 Utah Priority Project. Among the top 10 priorities for Utah millennial voters are public education, health care, renewable/sustainable energy, environmental issues and religious influence in politics. Hatch does not place a priority on these issues and very often fights against our interests.

Look at one of these issues: the environment and clean energy. A majority of those under 34 support reducing carbon emissions and increasing local environmental sustainability. Not only does Hatch have an anti-environment voting record, he also has a history of voting against renewable energy funding. Adding the cherry on top, he supports drilling for oil in wildlife refuges and opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Millennials recognize the need for protecting the environment for our generation and generations who follow — Hatch is voting to move us in the other direction.

Another example of Hatch’s non-representative agenda is his vote for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, while 70 percent of millennials support same-sex marriage. His civil rights voting record has earned him an ACLU score of 20 percent. Millennials recognize the need to progress on social issues including LGBT equality, reproductive rights and racial justice, but Hatch consistently votes in direct opposition. He advocates his personal beliefs — not those of the people he represents.

Lest we make the mistake of believing all millennials support progressive policies — a large portion of young Utahns’ ideologies align with the Republican party — Hatch does not always vote in favor of conservative principles.

Considering he has repeatedly voted in favor of raising the national debt ceiling, it is no wonder why other Republicans accuse Hatch of “fiscal child abuse.” He supports prioritizing tax cuts over reducing the national debt, placing the $19 trillion burden on younger generations to resolve as his generation reaps the benefits of paying fewer taxes. Is this in the best interest of future generations or a way to get re-elected?

In the irony of his reign, Hatch continuously states his main goal in Congress is to effectuate tax reform; however, he has been there for 40 years and has yet to make real progress on this goal. It is unlikely he will be able to make change in another six years if he has failed to do so in the past 40.

Orrin Hatch does not represent my generation’s priorities. Whether it is voting against the environment, affordable health care, social issues or fiscal responsibility, the opinions, views, and concerns of the largest age demographic in Utah are clearly neglected by the fourth most powerful man on the Hill. The issues have changed, the needs have changed, and the opinions have changed; the only thing that has not changed is our senator. Hatch is failing in his responsibility to represent the largest section of his constituency.

As millennials, we need to make sure that if he will not represent our needs, we use our voices to demand he step aside and allow us to shape our future.

Keaton Quinn is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah studying political science and international studies and an intern at Alliance for a Better Utah, a non-profit political advocacy organization.

Read Trib article here.