I've watched recently as the news media has heavily attacked the decision of party delegates in Utah to support the caucus system. I continue to read and hear as the delegates are labeled "elitists", "selfish" and "extremists."
These labels are used to try to discredit and destroy the caucus system. Delegates are elected by the majority of their neighbors who know and trust them. Delegates are delegated the responsibility of researching and vetting candidates for office. Since not everyone has hundreds of hours to spend researching candidates for office, they are able to delegate the responsibility to a neighbor they know and trust.
These delegates spend countless hours vetting candidates for public office. Prior to getting hired for a job, you are required to go through an extensive application and interview process. The same is true in Utah with those seeking public office; this is why we are the best managed state. Delegates act as a hiring panel to decide if a candidate should or should not be hired. Candidates are required to meet one-on-one with delegates and be questioned on their qualifications. If delegates cannot come to a consensus of a 60 percent or more supermajority, then the top two candidates advance to a primary.
Utah experimented with the direct primary system from 1937 to 1947, which marked the end of a disastrous decade in Utah politics. During this time the populous dumped the primary system when voter turnout declined to only 10 percent.
In the caucus system, candidates are required to speak directly to voters. Money is not so crucial for candidates and often the candidate with the most money does not win. In a primary, just the opposite is true. Candidates are required to reach tens of thousands of people in a very short period of time. Since this is impossible, candidates are forced to turn to media and political consultants, paying them large sums of money to get their political message out through TV ads, automated phone calls and Junk Mail. This requires candidates to raise large sums of money making them accountable to lobbyists instead of you.
The Libertas Institute recently surveyed 400 random Utahns who had not voted in the primary or general elections during 2010 and 2012 and who were at least 21 years old. When asked, "Do you believe that Utah is a democracy or a republic", 53 percent said democracy, 20 percent said they were unsure and only 27 percent correctly stated that we are a republic. At the close of the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left the hall in Philadelphia, he was asked, "What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?" He replied: "A republic, if you can keep it."
The caucus system represents a republic form of government. Nowhere in the Constitution or founding documents of this nation will you find the word "democracy." However you will find the word "republic" in many of our nation's founding documents.
Don't let your voice in Utah elections be taken away. Help fight the "count my vote coalition's" ballot initiative and reject the idea that D.C. lobbyists know best.
Blake Cozzens is chair of the Iron County Republican Party.
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