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My view: Improve, don't replace, the caucus

By Aaron Osmond

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, May 15 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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We need to empower more Republicans to help choose who represents our party on Election Day. Utah's Caucus system is a good system that provides an open door to all political candidates, even those who aren't well-funded or famous. I don't believe these two sentences are mutually exclusive. We can have both.

On May 18, GOP state delegates will meet to represent all 540,000 Republicans in Utah. As one of those delegates, I will be voting to raise the threshold required for a candidate to gain an outright victory in convention from 60 percent to a two-thirds majority. This will drive more primary contests and greater participation, but still preserve a path to avoid a primary when delegates approach true consensus.

I will also support other proposals to formally and purposefully enable a more open, flexible caucus system to include every Republican who wants to be involved and engaged in the process. I feel this approach will better accommodate average, busy but patriotic, like-minded Republican voters.

Some party activists disagree, and I respect their right to do so. At the end of the day, we are all committed to the same values. Where we differ on this issue is quite simple: I want the party to be more inclusive. I want to see more everyday Republicans involved in the process, not just the most active or opinionated.

Unfortunately, some Republicans feel participation as a delegate is a privilege only available to those who are the most educated, most knowledgeable about political issues and most actively engaged in the political process. In my view, this opinion is based on the same arguments used against universal suffrage, which were fortunately resolved by the 14th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.

I believe the Republican Party is stronger when we engage and develop a much broader group of members and potential leaders instead of rewarding only those who are the most willing to jump through hoops, have the most flexible schedules or demonstrate the most activism.

I feel we need to foster a caucus environment where we consistently elect everyday Republicans from all socioeconomic, educational, cultural and religious backgrounds to be our delegates. We also need to expand access and involvement from a limited group of insiders to everyone who loves their country and state. As we do, our party will be stronger and more resilient, and our caucus system will work even more effectively. I also feel the principles in which we believe will be better realized and shared more persuasively.

The Founders of our state and nation intended our representatives to be selected by the voice of the people. To ensure we achieve that goal, I believe that Utah's caucus system should be modified, but not replaced.

By raising the primary threshold to a two-thirds majority and by enabling more flexibility in our caucus process, we will enfranchise more Republicans to engage and strengthen our party.

Aaron Osmond is a state senator representing District 10.

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