I have attended every caucus meeting in the last 4 or more elections. I've
never been attacked, or not allowed to speak, no one ever asked my religious
affiliation, and no one threatened or bullied me, and I remember the feeling
well from junior high school. ALL! were invited. If they didn't attend, then
the fault is theirs, and if they feel disenfranchised, then who's fault is it?
Clair, the problem was only a moderate one until a surge of conservative
citizens, influenced by talk radio and/or the tea party movement, actually did
something far more effective than talk--they showed up at caucuses. That's no
problem except that the clear majority us, being moderates or independents, have
abandoned our own duties to participate. Now that is giant problem.
We better show up in March, 2002, or shut up our belly achin'.
As for myself, I think that Utah's present caucus/convention system, which
allows grassroots Republicans to choose experts from among themselves to
carefully interview (and otherwise scrutinize) all GOP candidates and then
select the best ones (via multiple-round voting) as their official nominees, is
working just fine. Nobody questioned this system until, in these last four
years, Utahns began to choose a different set of GOP delegates---Tea Partiers
and John Birchers and Ron Paulers and such---who booted Cannon for Chaffetz and
Bennett for Lee, thereby giving the GOP nominees who are both less conventional
and more devoted to the GOP's platform. Although I could be mistaken, I think
that this has shown America's Establishment that they've lost their top-down
control of Utah's GOP to its principled grassroots; so, they now want that
control back, and they're getting desperate to find a way to regain it. I
believe that primary elections would generally produce much worse candidates, as
too many participants would fail to scrutinize their candidates nearly as well
as a delegate would, and would irrationally favor candidates who are incumbents
or who were given the most favorable attention by biased journalists or whatnot.
Dear Bob;I agree with a DN Editorial.The world is coming
to an end.
Re: Esquire, "Utah has a system that protects the insiders". If this
is so, then please explain how a popular sitting govenor, and a sitting US
Senator whose roots in Utah's Republican party go back more than two generations
are not selected to run. The current suggestion for reform in Utah politics is
because the insider/elites have lost power. The outsiders now have gained
influence and primaries would allow the elites to regain control by spending large amounts of money on political advertising.
I'm disappointed at the shallowness in the editorial. A number of assertions are
made with no facts or disconnected logic to support them. For example:1) May contribute to a lower voter turnoutUtah participation in
presidential elections has declined 8 out of the last 11 times, starting in
1964. It has gone from 78.5% of voting age population to 50.5%. Nationally the
decline over the same period of time was from 61.9% to 56.8%. So why attribute
the decline to a system that generated 78% turnout in 1964?2)
Caucuses are vulnerable to manipulation Someone thinks that it is
easy to manipulate the outcome of ~2,200 meetings all held the same night and
run by individuals selected by their friends and neighbors? If it was so easy
then how did Senator Bennett lose his partys nomination. He spent a lot of money
and still lost.Utah has been lauded as being the best managed state
by Pew Center and yet DN makes the claim that our current system is flawed and
they have deep concerns about it. Why change something that is working for us
The radical right has taken over.
Shaun -- I'm very much not a fan of Utah's government, but I have to challenge
that debt figure. Can you provide a source for that because I sure couldn't
find anything like that number any place I looked.
Maverik -- that is exactly WHY sensible people need to continue to attend caucus
meetings. If we can't talk reason to them, perhaps we can expose what happens
there. How about using your cell phone to try to record the next time?You'll probably be tossed out the door, but the video can help tell the real
story of some of these extremist havens.
@invisible hand. Utah is 21 billion dollars in debt. Not exactly a strong
financial footing if you ask me.
The REPUBLICANS elected their delegates. That is the voice of the people. All
Republicans were eligible to vote. All of them.Just because Bob
Bennett didn't make it to the ballot means absolutely nothing about the system.
We elect delegates to REPRESENT us at the nominating convention.Why
should anyone be able to predict the outcome. Maybe other parties have things
set up so that the outcome is predetermined, but that's not the way the
Republicans do business. Voting is a THREE-STEP process. First
comes the caucus, where people choose delegates. Second is the primary where
the two candidates are narrowed to one. Third is the general election.Just because many people chose to ignore the most important step, the caucus,
does not mean that the system needs to be fixed; it only means that citizens
don't care enough to give up an evening to be involved in the process.
It's really not that hard. I went to a neighborhood caucus when I was 18 and
still in High School, and ended up getting elected as a delegate at the county
convention. But then again, there were only five of us there at the caucus
meeting.I'll never forget bumping into my Spanish Teacher at the
convention- it was the only time I ever got caught sluffing school. Luckily he
thought it was for a worthwhile cause.
@slpa1 -- The statistics about the demographic make-up of the delegates prove
conclusively that Bennett was ousted by "his own," not
"extremists." I certainly agree the delegate demographic does not
represent a statistical reflection of the averages in Utah population. To that
end, if those who feel disenfranchised care enough the invitation to participate
is open to all. There are about 3500 local precincts that hold caucuses. It's
very hard (and it should be) for any candidate to corral a majority, or highjack
an election. The caucus system actually safeguards the possibility that enough
money alone could swing elections. Bennett outspent Lee 10:1 and lost. So much
for a system that favors the wealthy elite. I'm just tired of all the hyperbole
that because Bennett lost the whole system needs reforming.
It looks like the Deseret News has had just about enough with the grassroots
republican citizens in the nominating process. The wealthy elite are not going
tolerate this any longer if they can help it. First, the delegates picked by
their neighbors, ousted Gov. Walker, then Rep Cannon and finally Sen Bennett.
What good is it for the wealthy elite to have millions of dollars to pour into
their candidates' campaigns, only to have their plans disrupted by the
"unwashed masses?" This makes it very difficult for the wealthy elite
to maintain their political influence. Utah has one of the best
candidate selection processes in the nation. Here delegates from the
neighborhoods study and vote for the best candidates from their grassroots point
of view. Other states have primaries where the candidate with the most money,
gains the most media attention and wins. Before you believe what the
Desert News is saying here, start going to your neighborhood caucus meetings and
get involved. Don't wait for the media to explain the candidates through their
slick 30 second ads.
Those who complain about the caucus system seldom bother to participate, or fail
to get their positions adopted. The problem is their bad ideas, not a bad
system!There are three main groups who oppose it:First-
The political elites with an entitlement attitude that they deserve to serve
forever, even when their policies are no longer (if ever) supported by the
mainstream. (Walker, Bennett and Hatch are good examples)Second-
the news media and pundit class who are unhappy that their biased
recommendations and endorsements are ignored by delegates, most of whom actually
get to speak directly to candidates, avoiding the media filters on candidate's
actual views and statements.Third- A large number of very poorly
informed voters who lack the interest to become involved and attend a caucus and
make their views heard, and convince others to get behind a candidate. The high quality of Utah's elected officials and their performance
demonstrate that the system works, and works well. Our state is recognized as
one of the best run, we are financially sound, and unlike many states, our
elected officials are hardly ever thrown in jail for corruption.
@ Invisible Hand, your point does not change the reality.
I think the current system works. It gets people who actually know what is going
on and they can vote better instead a bunch of people on Deseret News that have
opinions but are not exactly realistic.
@Goatesnotes:Though I suspect you intended your arguments and
statistics to support the delegate/caucus/convention system, they actually make
the DN's point.The demographics of Utah voters do not match the
numbers you provided. Those numbers clearly show that the average delegate does
not represent the average Utah voter.
It just is not credible to claim that Jon Huntsman beating Olene Walker was a
victory for extremists. Think how many times the GOP delegates nominated a Garn,
a Bennett, a Bangerter, a Leavitt or a Hatch, and the Dems nominate a Rampton or
a Matheson. All but once, so far. Where's the problem?
Oxymoron - "Republicans and Democrats select convention delegates in
neighborhood meetings that are too vulnerable to manipulation and too loosely
controlled."Too loosely controlled by whom - manipulators?
I COMPLETELY agree with this. Caucuses shelter politicians and disenfranchise
Cheers to Deseret News for a thought provoking editorial. Objectives of political reform should include:1. Stop, remove, and
prohibit the financial influence of any collective group on the election and
representation of the people. Must include all businesses, churches, unions,
associations etc. etc. etc. 2. Allow, encourage and permit any
citizen to nominate themselves for any elective office.3. Require
each candidate to provide a complete, but brief, resume of his/her experience,
training, pertinent organizations membership, etc., similar to the resume given
for employment. 4. Publish all resumes in such a way to reach every
citizen. Allow no campaigning other than the resume. 5. Provide a
voting system that is easy, available to every voter, accurate and fair. 6. Hold each representative to the plan and philosophy of the resume.
On pain of recall or even beheading.
@ Goatsnotes, You will have totalk to Howard Stephenson on that one.
Getting rid of the Department of Education is much different than getting rid of
public education. Just sayin'.
Utah Politics = Absolute power corrupts Absolutely.
Invisible Hand,The bigger issue has to do with the bullying itself. I am
involved and a delegate so you are "barking" up the wrong tree here.
Democracy is NOT bullying. It is respecting differing viewpoints not bullying
people into submission or preventing people from attending their caucus under
false pretenses. You are correct about getting like minded people
behind you. That is absolutely how is should be done. The problem with the
current system is that those who are novices in this process don't know any
better. It is shameful that the focus is not on those doing the
bullying as opposed to those who attend their caucus in good faith.
At my last caucus all they wanted to do was get rid of public education. It was
filled with a bunch of extremist whackos. I completely agree with the DN on
this one.Our system stinks and there is a reason for low voter
@Esquire: Weren't Olene Walker and Bob Bennet insiders? They didn't get
protected.@Squirt: You probably feel bullied when you're
outnumbered. This is democracy at work. Get like minded people to attend the
caucus with you. Stop making excuses and get involved.If it ain't
broke don't fix it. Last I checked Utah was one of the few states that doesn't
have a disastrous fiscal situation so we must be doing something right.
Then let's talk more facts-Utah Rebpulican voters, Utah Democratic voters, Utah
Independent voters and Utah Democratic delegates all ranked education as their
number one issue.Utah Republican delegates ranked education 11th!
Clearly out of touch with the Republicans in the state. Yes, reform of the
current system is needed and soon!
Maybe the facts will help the discussion. Here's the Quin Monson (BYU) survey of
delegates:50.6% said they declared their support for a candidate at
the caucus.48.1% said they did not.98% said things in the country
have gotten "pretty seriously" off track.42% were tea party
advocates.42% said they were not. 15% had no opinion.75% of
delegates reported they had given no money to the tea party. 62% felt it's
more important to have policies that adhere to Constitutional principles rather
than crafting policies to solve pressing national issues. 74% wanted to
see less government intervention in our lives.95% use the Internet more
than once a day. 75% were males. 64% were over age 45. Only
62% considered themselves as "strong Republicans," with the others
leaning more moderate or independent. 63% considered themselves as
"strongly conservative," while 35% said they were "moderately
conservative." 36% were college graduates and 39% held post-graduate
degrees. 90% of the delegates were Mormons. 88.8% considered
themselves "very active" Mormons. 95% were White/Caucasian. 92% were married. 79% made more than $55,000 a year.Blame
the "extreme" tea party if you wish. Facts say otherwise.
This editorial has the feel of advocacy for aging politicians (Walker and
Bennett, for example) who should have the right in perpetuity to get "one
more bite of the apple" for as long as they choose. No thanks.
What if "reports" of bullying tactics are really isolated
incidents? What if non-participation has nothing to do with the caucus
meeting/convention format? There is a myriad of unsubstantiated
rumors, but some of us believe the purest form of representative republican
politics is exactly what we have in Utah. What I love about the
current system in the grassroots participation of it. It allows greater
participation by a number of upstart candidates who can take on establishment
types with deep campaign war chests and have a fighting chance. We
need more, not less, of that dynamic.This garbage about Republican
party "extremists" is nothing more than sour grapes over watching
Bennett get creamed by his own at the convention. Bennett was overdue. At 77
years of age he was turned away at convention by a group of delegates who were
split right down the middle - half tea party, half non-tea party.Don't change everything over one predictable loss.
I've never been so scared in my life, than with the last time I was at a caucus
meeting.All I kept hearing about were Communists, guns, and getting
rid of Bob Bennett. Anyone that disagreed, was shouted down. It's scary man,
I'll never go to a Caucus meeting again. It was so scary! It must have been the
same when Hitler and his goons shouted down opposition, talked about revolution,
guns, and getting rid of political opponents.
I am in complete agreement with DN on this issue. The horror stories of the
bullying tactics which are happening in neighborhood caucus meetings are
rampant. It becomes even more frightening when you look at the number of our
legislators who have left in the middle of their terms and those who will be
leaving to run for another office. Their replacements will be chosen by a few
individuals who, because of Utah's system, have taken control of the delegate
system.I actually had a neighbor tell me that she went to the Republican
neighborhood caucus and was told that she had to support the entire Republican
platform or she would not be permitted to attend the neighborhood meeting!I am hopeful that more mainstream Republicans will rise up and take the
Republican party back from extremists who do not represent true Republican
Utah has a system that protects the insiders. A change is indeed needed.
The political climate in Utah definitely needs to be moderated. One aspect not
mentioned in the article is economic development. I can easily name 30 college
educated, hard working people, who have moved out of Utah over the past few
years, many of them are involved in information technology and education. The
extreme right wing rhetoric coming from Utah politicians is very alienating to
many people, and the ones with the means may not vote at the polling booth, but
they do vote with their feet!
This makes way too much sense. That means it won't happen.
Well, for my part, I'd say that if the caucus system resulted in the ouster of
Olene "Utah Compact" Walker, and Robert "illegal-alien
loophole" Bennett, then it probably is a good thing.
If "extremists" dominated the Democratic convention, they wouldn't
nominate Jim Matheson every two years.