Readers' forum: Get rid of caucus system


Return To Article
  • silkywiley Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2011 8:44 a.m.

    The parties have a platform, the caucus system helps insure that the candidates are not going off the reservation. We have had plenty of that in other states, where Rinos rule the day and are without core principles. It becomes an incoherent system without clear differences between the candidates, then why not just go to an American idol format. Because from the beginning of civilization, the big thinkers Aristole, et al, saw that the public elected on the basis of a personality contest in the most attractive, etc, not the best leaders, thereafter leading to a degenerate democracy.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    May 19, 2011 11:20 p.m.

    "Here's a radical idea, why don't ALL Utahns vote for who they want?"

    They should, and can...in the general election.

    If your favored candidate wants a guaranteed spot on the general election ballot, all he has to do is run as an independent. It takes very few signatures on a petition to get your name on the general election ballot as an independent. Do not confuse this with our initiative laws that rightly have a high threshold. To be an independent candidate for election is nearly trivial.

    But if your favored candidate decides to seek the nomination of a political party it is the right of that party and her members to decide whether to give the nomination or not.

    If your favored candidate is seeking (and losing) the nomination of the wrong party, talk to him.

    And if getting the nomination of your favored party is the kiss of death in most of the State, that might just be an indication that your party is out of touch with the mainstream of Utah...no matter how popular it might be in some small, isolated pockets.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    May 19, 2011 11:16 p.m.

    "I have, and all it was, was a shouting match against Obama and Bob Bennett. "

    That sounds very strange for a Democrat Party caucus to be opposed to Bennett and Obama.

    Oh, wait. Did you attend a Republican Party Caucus? Why? Do you consider yourself a republican? Do you agree with the GOP platform?

    Or do you simply want to help select the GOP nominee knowing that the Democrat nominee is almost certainly going to be acceptable to you no matter what? Then come general election time you can't lose as we have a liberal Democrat running against a liberal Republican.

    It is clear from the postings here that most of those complaining about the caucus/convention system are liberals, upset that theirs is a minority view in Utah. They want to game the system.

    No party is required to use caucus/convention. Several of the smaller parties do not.

    If you don't like the GOP nominee, don't vote for him. But if you are a democrat, or otherwise find the GOP platform to be objectionable, don't expect to be asked your opinion on who our nominee should be.

  • Jash Clearfield, UT
    May 19, 2011 12:57 p.m.

    Re: isrred

    The reality is it takes time and resources to produce a candidate for election.

    Additonal time and resources are required to get that candidate elected.

    Whatever election system you choose, those who do not sacrifice a little time will have little to no input on who is elected. This is the reality of any political system.

    The question is which system maximizes public input while minimizing consumption of their time and energy. I believe the caucus system albeit imperfect achieves this.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 19, 2011 7:29 a.m.

    re: isrred | 9:57 p.m. May 18, 2011

    You'll find an excuse for everything. Fine. Not everybody is up to the job of being a citizen. It's been pointed out that you can do your part before, during or after the caucus. That doesn't seem to be good enough for you.

    You sound so very much like the Bob Bennett campaign people who sent me emails before the last caucus. They said the system was unfair because the vast majority of Utahns would not go to the caucuses. The operative words are "would not". What they were really saying is that the vast majority of Utahns just did not care whether Bob Bennett was on the ballot or not. Those campaign workers knew that if they could get Bob's name on the ballot, that those non-caring Utahns would vote for the only name they recognized.

    If you're not willing to put out some effort before, during or after the caucus to make your wishes known, then, pray tell, what do you expect others to do for you?

  • isrred Logan, UT
    May 18, 2011 9:57 p.m.

    " quit making excuses. 1 night for an hour or so and people can't make it? Sorry, don't buy it. You know the date today. Put it on your calendar and there, your night is already booked."

    Do you expect the entire economy to come to a halt that night so that the Republicans can hold their caucuses? Some people MUST work. We may know the date now but we do not know our work schedules, whether we will be out of town on business, have a family emergency, a sick child, etc.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 18, 2011 9:17 p.m.


    You've personally met every individual who attends caususes and therefore know they are uninformed and indoctrinated? Wow, you really get around!

    Why shouldn't we assume that the only reason you esteem them as uninformed and indoctrinated is because they don't agree with you?

  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 18, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    I appeciate Halvor's input but this letter was really shaky. I hate it when someone says that a Representative or Senator is obliged to "vote the preferences of the general public they represent". No, no, no...not in a Constitutional Republic. Elected representatives are elected to make tough decisions that the general public may or may not support. Jim Matheson is my representative and I can't remember the last time he voted the way I would have preferred. Tough cookies for me - I can only tip my hat to the voters in my district who did vote for him and say "Hey, that's your guy" The general public doesn't want any changes to Medicare but if we don't reform it then we're all headed to the abyss and it won't even matter so I want a Rep who can make a tough choice that the people may not support. That's why true Democracy always utterly fails. It just doesn't work.
    I agree with all the posters who said - if you don't like it then get involved yourself.

  • Uncle Charles Where freedom and liberty reign, utah
    May 18, 2011 7:42 p.m.

    @goatesnotes: awesome comments and I agree completely! People make excuses to get involved in the process and then whine about it.

    @amicus: when you move to Utah then comment on the process we use for our elections. How is it living in the state that everyone is leaving in droves because of Democratic Party rule and demolition with its policies? Wasn't Gov. Granholm just a peach?

    @isrred: quit making excuses. 1 night for an hour or so and people can't make it? Sorry, don't buy it. You know the date today. Put it on your calendar and there, your night is already booked.

    I was elected delegate without even attending the meeting. A neighbor put my name in and they voted for me. Been a delegate ever since that day 10+ years ago.

  • goatesnotes Kamas, UT
    May 18, 2011 6:26 p.m.

    When a person finally decides to get directly involved, attend the caucus meeting in his/her precinct, and assert a political position or candidate, then the uncertainty about the caucus/nominating convention process disappears. Run for state delegate in your precinct. Go to the caucus meeting after studying the candidates and the issues, then lobby for support among your friends and neighbors. You might actually discover that one little person in a grassroots meeting can make a huge difference. Anyone who says an elite few are pulling the strings are simply misinformed. There is no finer example in America of the true representative republic than the Utah caucus/nominating process. Period. Get involved. Discover where political power resides for yourself. Stop criticizing the process until you understand it and become an active participant. You'll begin to discover the roots of your liberty and freedom and how it was born. No one is disenfranchised in this process. No one. Not even you. It's ironic and beyond funny that in Utah where the traditional turnout to caucus meetings is near pathetic levels of apathy so many who don't participate have so much to say that is negative. Enough already.

  • amicus Ann Arbor, MI
    May 18, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    Most caucus attendees are not well informed, they are indoctrinated. Furthermore, they try to defend the caucus system by saying that it is "open to anyone willing to participate." Grow up. This is the real world. Not everyone can attend caucus meetings. Some of us are busy producing for ourselves, their families, and the general economy. Quit making whiny excuses and open up the primary process. Caucus attendees are not smarter than anyone else. If anything, they are more gullible and indoctrinated.

    In Utah's one-party system, we need open primaries so that Utahns can vote for the Republicans that best represent them.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 18, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    re: lsrred | 4:04 p.m. May 18, 2011

    You wrote: "This is absolutely untrue. Being unable to attend ONE meeting on ONE night at ONE specific time does not equate to an election where voters can vote early, by mail, or over the course of an ENTIRE day on election day rather than one 1-2 block of time."

    It is apparent that you have access to a computer. Anyone who has access to a computer has access to every Republican in his/her precinct.

    If you have access to every Republican in your precinct, you have the OPPORTUNITY to contact each of those people before the caucus to explain why you cannot attend and to ask them to consider your choice of candidates. You have the same opportunity as every other person in your precinct to make your wishes known.

    You have the opportunity to ask them to vote for you as a delegate.

    With today's technology, cell phones, iPads, etc., you do not have to be present to participate.

    YOU are the person who chooses whether you participate. You have the means to participate, which means that you have no excuse.

  • isrred Logan, UT
    May 18, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    "If an individual can't spend the time to make it to the caucus, for what ever reason, then they probably for the same reason can't make it to the primary election, or general election for the same reasons."

    This is absolutely untrue. Being unable to attend ONE meeting on ONE night at ONE specific time does not equate to an election where voters can vote early, by mail, or over the course of an ENTIRE day on election day rather than one 1-2 block of time.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    May 18, 2011 3:00 p.m.

    If an individual can't spend the time to make it to the caucus, for what ever reason, then they probably for the same reason can't make it to the primary election, or general election for the same reasons. So by that argument we could just disband the whole idea of elections.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 18, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    Mr. Hatch knows that unless he can get Utah to do away with the caucus system, that he will have no chance in his next run for Senate.

    Just as Bob Bennett's campaign stooped to advising us to basically do whatever it took, including lying about our candidate of choice, so that Bob Bennett could make it to the primary, it looks like Mr. Hatch's supporters are willing to do whatever it takes to get Mr. Hatch's name on the primary ballot. We're going to have letters to the editor every week until after the caucus is held where Mr. Hatch's supporters will claim that the system is not fair.

    Guess what, Mr. Hatch has had decades to convince the voters that he has something that we want. Sorry Mr. Hatch, but I don't know any conservative who wants you to run.

    Why am I surprised at the liberals and Democrats who think that the Republican caucus is any of their business? They have never hesitated to tell us conservatives how to think, how to vote, and how to respond to their absence of substance. Why would they change now?

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 18, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    I've been a delegate to the state convention numerous times and I've never considered myself to be "elite". In fact far from it. The folks that went to my caucus (many more than in previous years) were nearly 100% opposed to Bennett continuing his tenure in the Senate. I'm sure that if you would have polled my voting district, you would have found about 80% opposed to Bennett, and those are the Republicans.

    The Caucus system is true democracy. People can go to the caucus and state their opinion and vote for delegates that reflect those opinions. In years past I have had my caucus attended by teachers with their agenda, union members with their agenda, Mormons, Catholics, unemployed, postal workers, and many others. They have all had a chance to express their opinion and run for delegate. If they get picked, great. If not, oh shucks try again.

    There has to be a weeding out process when we have zillions of candidates. The delegate process accomplishes that quite well. Remember, the caucus system gave us Huntsman (umfortunatly). People have a chance to get involved on a grassroots level.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 18, 2011 1:03 p.m.

    Mike Richards doesn't "feel" anything is wrong with having the caucus sytem, because it gives guys like him the unfair advantage.

    It's only fair when you're the one winning or makng decisions for everyone else, right Mike?

  • isrred Logan, UT
    May 18, 2011 12:56 p.m.

    "How many of those who rail against the caucus system have ever bothered to attend a caucus themselves?"

    I have been a State and County delegate in the past and have attended my fair share of caucuses and I LOATHE the system. It is merely a way to empower ideologues while disenfranchising large chunks of voters who for whatever reasons--employment, family responsibilities, business trips, religious obligations, bed ridden, etc--cannot attend ONE meeting held at ONE time. A primary allows voters more flexibility in their participation: vote early, by mail, or at any time throughout the day on election day when their schedule allows.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 18, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    "How many of those who rail against the caucus system have ever bothered to attend a caucus themselves?"

    Not everyone can go to them. So your point is completely irrelevant.

    I have, and all it was, was a shouting match against Obama and Bob Bennett. It was not constructive, disciplined, or mature.

    It was offensive, hateful, and about as anti-Democracy as anything.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    May 18, 2011 12:31 p.m.

    It's all about the few controlling the system. If you have a general open election then there can be no control over what will happen. Since the republicans have turned the control of their party to the right-wing, it is the right wing that controls the actions in this state even though it does not represent the general opinion. I guarantee that those in favor of the caucus system are those that are from that very right wing. One thing I do agree with however, and that is that more need to get involved to change it.

  • Jon W. Murray, UT
    May 18, 2011 11:06 a.m.

    How many of those who rail against the caucus system have ever bothered to attend a caucus themselves? Come on people, it's only an hour or two every other year! Those who don't vote, have no right to complain about the government. Those who don't attend and vote in party caucuses have no right to complain about the party's method of choosing the candidates. And as KDave said, if you don't like who's on the ballot, write someone else in.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 18, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    Isn't it interesting how the repubs of this state tout competition then continuously advocate the need to keep this caucus system? It seems to me that ridding ourselves of this system would help bring about more competition.

    Are repubs afraid of a little competition?

    Also, it makes me extremely suspicious that the same folks who lost all credibility in my eyes, who hammered HB477 down our throats, want to maintain this caucus system. Very suspicious indeed.

    What are they hiding?
    What is their agenda?

    As a god-fearing true American who loves freedom, I just have to wonder what the Utah repubs are wanting to do with this? Subject us to more bondage and less choice?

    Mr. Herbert, you have an oath to this people and a constitution to uphold. Now lets cut the games and lets get back to business!

    Get rid of the caucus system. Let the People decide who their reps are to be.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 18, 2011 9:58 a.m.

    Here's a radical idea, why don't ALL Utahns vote for who they want? Why let the hands of a select few registered on the state run party decide?

  • KDave Moab, UT
    May 18, 2011 8:25 a.m.

    You can vote for anyone you want, it's called a write-in.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 18, 2011 8:12 a.m.


    In any race, there is only one winner.

    Before the caucus, I received many emails from Bob Bennett's campaign asking me to represent him, EVEN if I had to PRETEND to prefer someone else. I responded that I would not vote for Bob Bennett and that I would not vote for anyone delegate in our precinct who preferred Bob Bennett. They continued to solicit my help. Did anyone in the Bob Bennett campaign take the time to read my emails? I doubt it.

    YOU can run for delegate. YOU can tell the voters in YOUR precinct which candidate YOU favor. If THEY agree with you, you will be elected. That is how an election works.

    100% of the registered Republicans are allowed to participate in the caucus. NO ONE is denied access, as long as they are registered. That means that 100% of those who desire representation are eligible to be represented. That does not mean that 100% of those who desire any particular candidate will prevail.

    To claim that your views and your candidate were ignored in a field of many candidates is just not believable, even though you may have desired a different outcome.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 18, 2011 6:42 a.m.

    Does it really matter in our one party system? The party elders (the central committee) will decide what is good for us.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 18, 2011 6:05 a.m.


    Sherry said nothing about an elite group; she spoke of those willing to get involved, spend time and energy researching the candidates beyond a 20 second sound bite, yard signs, robo-calls, and mailers.

    You can oppose the caucus system all you want; I'm not even sure that I favor it, but at least be honest in your argument and do not distort what is said.