My view: Let's get rid of the caucus system

By Jim Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, May 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Should Utah abandon the caucus-convention system and go straight to a direct primary?

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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As one of the longest serving politicians in the state, I am always amazed why elected officials and administrators seem to go out of their way to complicate relatively simple issues. It has been said that people who make laws and policy are "over planned, over thought and over complicated." In my years in the Legislature and Congress, it became evident ?— if you want to be successful — you should draft your bills and policies so they are easily understood.

Why don't our political parties and the Legislature simply follow what many of our sister states have done and do away with the party caucus and have an open primary and allow anyone who so desires to run? As it is now constructed, we give 3,500 people the right to vote for thousands and make our nominee the choice of only a few. Being one of the middling folks, I am amazed I was the Republican nominee for the first district in 1980. Some of my political friends have chided me for wanting to change from a nominating caucus to an open primary. They have stated that is probably how I got elected and the same goes for many of them. That could be true, but it doesn't make it right.

One of Thomas Jefferson's associates said, "Only the scholars and gentlemen should be allowed to discuss and vote." They felt by excluding many they could maintain power. In Utah, we call it a caucus system. It has been said, "In America, we do not have government by the majority, we have government by a majority who participate. In our caucus system, we go out of our way to eliminate the voices of "we the people." Let's tear down this political wall and let everyone participate.

I have always admired Benjamin Franklin, who stood up for the middling people. I would hope both parties would do the same.

Jim Hansen is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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