Published: Sunday, Jan. 8 2012 12:00 a.m. MST
I personally don't think the proposal outlined here by Gov. Leavitt is the best
possible system for Utahns. But I support it because it would represent a
tremendous improvement over the current system. Our current elected officials
act as though they are accountable only to a handful of party insiders;
otherwise they would never pull reprehensible stunts like HB 477. Any change
that gets more people to participate in the process of choosing our elected
officials is a step in the right direction.
The caucus system is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work
over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go
against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.There were about
60,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in
2010 to elect the 3500 delegates. Add to those numbers to democrats and the
primary elections and certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in
voter representation.Most people that want the caucus system
changed, there are exceptions, are frustrated that they don't have as much power
as people that show up to the neighborhood election caucus meetings. It doesn't
take money, you just have to show up.What we need are more people
getting involved earlier, not shutting down the system that protects us from
power hungry people wanting to take over.
I don't see the virtues of caucus system, but this at least a much needed
improvement. People with power will not voluntarily give it up so it will take a
citizen's initiative. I would be in favor of going all the way to a primary
system but this is far better than what is. The caucus system was fine during
the horse and buggy days.
Once again the Deseret News promotes modification to a caucus/convention process
that isn't broken, ostensibly to increase voter participation and presumably to
accommodate a changing voter world. Adding a petition path to the
ballot with 2% of the number who voted in the last election for that office is
his proposal before us. In the presidential nominating process one will easily
recognize the similarity to Leavitt's proposal with the way someone qualifies to
get on the Virginia ballot, Gingrich's home state.Failing to meet
the requirement to get himself on the ballot, Leavittâs criticism of the
caucus/convention process here is exactly the same as Gingrichâs criticism
of Virginiaâs petition path. Virginiaâs process, is characterized as
"archaic," "out of touch with modern world realities," and
"disenfranchising."This seems to be thinly-veiled foment
over Bennett's ouster in direct contravention of the will of the people who
imposed the ultimate term limit on an aged politician through the
caucus/convention process. Bennett's peers showed him the gate, when he didn't
know when to quit of his own accord.My sense is that Orrin Hatch
awaits the same fate in the caucuses on March 15th.
Total agreement. I have missed many caucus meetings due to an erratic work
schedule. The far right will oppose reform to the very end. Let's hope we
can prevail and get rid of this relic from the past. Well written, well thought
out. Thank you Governor Leavitt for all you have done for Utah and the
Part DeuxThere aren't very many details on how the petition process
Leavitt proposes would work. Would a potential candidate have to make a choice
when he/she files for office about which path they take, or would it enable one
like Bennett, ousted at convention, to take another bite of the apple by
mounting a petition drive to get on the ballot for the primary?Details please.The point that tires me most is the so-called
"power elite" of the political parties seeming to dictate to the
masses what is best for them. If the electorate "elects" to stay home,
be apathetic, view themselves as victimized by the process, no amount of
rejiggering the current system is going to boost voter participation.It may just be that Utahns are so ambivalent about politics they prefer being
known as non-participants.
Translation, end the caucus system and go straight to a primary system where the
rich and/or well connected have a massive advantage. This ensures the little guy
has zero chance of holding office in Utah, the party bosses will decide who gets
the political muscle and money.A couple notes. I don't remember Gov
Leavitt's caucus the way he describes it. In fact, he managed to survive the
caucus by meer votes. He needed 30% ormore delegates to get onto the primary
ballot, which he barely did. Once in the primary he and the teachers unions used
their money and machine to soundly defeat a non-political insider.There are then many examples of great public servants who have served
wonderfully and would have never had this chance without the caucus. Sen Lee
comes to mind.What Gov Leavitt proposes translates into the party
bosses skipping the caucus altogether, using their teachers union muscle and
positioning their union money muscle against the little guy in the primary. He
notes it would take 13,000 signatures to get on the ballot. The teachers union
has some 25,000+ members. Game, set, match.The more things change...
Our caucus system works for those who want to be involved in politics. It
doesn't work for those who want to use a popularity contest to determine the
next elected official. It doesn't work for those who can't put a date on the
calendar and keep that date free from other obligations. It doesn't work for
those who habitually complain about a system that makes THEM responsible for two
hours of their time every two years.A republic takes a little bit of
sacrifice. Staying free and having liberty takes a little bit of sacrifice.
Those who are unwilling to make that little bit of sacrifice (two hours every
two years) have no right to complain. They are the problem, not the system.The caucus system lets you and me participate. It lets us discuss the
candidates, one on one. It lets you and me have a voice by allowing you and me
by voting for a delegate who has our views.Most people don't even
know who the candidates are before entering the voting booth. Changing the
system would only turn each race into a popularity contest. Those with the
biggest budgets would win.
Thank you Governor Leavitt for this thoughtful opinion piece. I miss the days
when the Republicans in this state weren't all crazy wackadoo right-wingers.
I'm so sick of the arguments that our outlier system (as Gov. Leavitt correctly
portrayed it) is the best way to get individuals involved. Utah_1 says
"you just have to show up" which overlooks the fact that some of us
have obligations that prevent us from doing so. No matter how much I want to
attend caucuses (and I do) I will NEVER be able to. Those who just keep telling
me and people like me to care enough to get involved simply are out of touch
with the realities that many of us deal with. I'm glad that Governor Leavitt
and his coalition are not so out of touch.
The Utah Caucus system DOES NOT need an alternative selection process. In fact,
the very purpose of people like Mike Leavitt is to neuter the Caucus System by
providing a way to use big money special interest dollars to put their
candidates on the primary ballot and then advertise extensively to get them
elected. Indeed, with the type of alternative method being
proposed, Bob Bennett would have used his millions of campaign cash (most of
which came from outside Utah) to get on the primary ballot, advertise
extensively and use his name recognition to remain our Senator.The
Utah Caucus system levels the playing field for all candidates. Under our
Caucus System, neighbors to come together and pick delegates from among their
peers who then work deliberately and carefully to select the best candidates
without undue influence of special interests and their money. A citizen with
very little name recognition, experience or money has an opportunity to meet
with delegates and be seriously considered for office.The Utah
System IS the modern system that other states should emulate to bring
accountability and better citizen representation to their states. Indeed, our
Caucus System is the future of representative government.
Leavitt's idea just makes it easier for those with money (think Bennett and
Hatch) and harder for those without. My only issue is that some caucus
meetings are a bit heavy handed and often representatives are elected without
knowing who they support. Let's fix that.
As several people have pointed out, the caucus system rewards those citizens who
are willing to make the effort to get informed and participate, and makes it
harder for those with money to buy the votes of the ill-informed and uninvolved
with slick and misleading advertising campaigns. It's find just as it is.
I agree with much of what Governor Leavett wrote. I would make two changes. 1.
gather only 1% of signatures of registered voters. 2. Required signatures
should be from any registered voter in the state off Utah from any party. For
too long the few in Utah have had almost complete control over who runs for
which office! I am a way more liberal than Utah' Republican party, but have
lived in Oregon for 48 years and was always a registered Republican prior to
moving to Utah 13 year ago. I can not register republican now because Utah'
republicans are way too far to the right for my beliefs. I see Utah's democrats
much closer to my beliefs that Utah's republicans. I am and always have been a
moderate republican. There is no room for me in Utah's republican party.
Yea Mike Leavitt for suggesting a step toward democracy. However,
dont hold your breath while waiting for it to happen. The entrenched power of
the commercial conservatives are not likely to retreat from their tyranny.Democracy is a bad word with an evil outcome in the minds of most
Utahns. It is attacked not on by the commercial tyrants but even by religion.
And for some of us it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the
two. My hope is that someday we will disallow the use of commercial
wealth to influence and control our government. And disallow the political
campaign in favor of a simple statement of experience and qualifications. And have an easy, accurate, honest, infallible way to vote.
Mike Leavitt is right on the pulse of what needs to change in Utah's election
system. When women, the young people & newcomers to our state are left out,
it is no wonder that only 1 in 4 Utahans is registered to vote. Now that so
many people (young included) get their information from electronic means rather
than "neighborhood meetings like caucuses" the entire Utah voting
system needs to be changed. It is discouraging as a registered voter to know
that in Utah ones vote means so little. Utah needs to get voter participation
system up & Mike Leavitts concrete ideas deserve our attention. Thanks
Mike Richards does a very good job of describing the mindset of the conservative
group. Although I have a little trouble with his notion of time. I think that
taking responsibility for government takes much more that just 2 hours every two
years. Some people even say we need to be eternally vigilant. Personally, I would prefer a government that was a perpetual machine that ran
on its own and only needed attention when it was failing or when new processes
were needed. In order to have that, it would be necessary to have
a good set of rules built into the machine, sort of like our Constitution. And
let no one tinker with the machine except those people with the general welfare
in mind. That means that we would exclude all those mechanics who wish to
change the machine for commercial purposes. If we had such a
machine, we could elect people to run the machine for life or for shorter
periods, if they followed the rules the result of either would be the same. Come to think of it, electing a politician for life might make him less
susceptible to private offers.
As a moderate who was literally shouted down at the last GOP neighborhood
caucus, I think the real reason many don't vote is frustration.We
know our voices will not be heard. The political powerhouses maintain tight
control of their parties. It's all controlled by a few people at the top. And
they are almost certainly controlled by money flowing into party coffers.Open primary is probably the better choice.There is no place
in a democratic society for closed, secret meetings. (But I forget, Utah is not
a democracy.)I vote, but my kids don't because they feel it's
I would be Ok with just leaving the status quo IF the parties would move back to
the 70% (rather than the current 60%) needed to avoid a primary. The caucus
system was fine back when this was the threshold. It is too easy to get 60% by
someone with ulterior motives who is mouthing conservative slogans.
one old manOgden, UTI've come to the conclusion that Utahns
are happy to let a few Republicans take care of everything. They trust them -
but a lot of them trust ponzi schemers too.
Thank you Mike Leavitt for calling it like it is and have the guts to say it. In
typical Leavitt fashion you not only point out the problem, but offer a
solution. I went to my caucus meeting last year. It was awful.
People were shouting. Everything was disorganized. One guy took 20 minutes
describing his theory of how 9-11 was a conspiracy brought on by Pres. Bush to
make it easier to finish the job his dad started go get rid of Saddam Hussein
once and for all. The night took too long and I was late picking up my son from
a soccer practice. The whole thing was a terrible waste of time and didn't feel
much like democracy to me.Democracy to me is a completely open
process, It errors on the side of making it easy to participate rather than
hard. It involves lots of choices and therefore, more people on the ballot. Most
of all, when all is said and done, the results from the process, so long as
constitutional rights are protected, mirror the public at large, not just those
who bully their way into a delegate role.I support what Gov. Leavitt
has proposed and thank him for his leadership on this and so many fronts.
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