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My view: Don't be fooled, Utah; we must change the caucus system

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  • Perfice South Jordan, UT
    March 26, 2012 5:39 p.m.

    Party platforms are pre-determined and special interest is rampant. Caucuses by their nature attempt to weed out delegates and therefore cadidates that won't tow the party line.

    I've decided this go-around to give Americans Elect 2012 a shot. We need candidates who can be themselves and are patriots willing to work with ALL others for the good of the country.

    Change without compromise to special interest is what leads to the breaking of laws or even dictatorship. The constitution is what defines compromise.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    March 26, 2012 4:57 p.m.

    This is the best opinion piece that I have ever read in the Deseret News. I am a little bit shocked that it was allowed to appear here, but I agree wholeheartedly with the author.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    March 26, 2012 4:18 p.m.

    Just for the record, 2bit, almost all the delegates I supported did win. However, this was only the case because of the outstanding, historical turnout. Further, what I have clearly stated is that the caucus process is so flawed that voters are disenfranchised. Sorry to disappoint you; I'm just glad we're finally talking about the caucus system that active, caring citizens everywhere should be disappointed with, and change.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2012 12:35 p.m.

    What's with all the "Anti-Caucusing" people writing to the DMN today???

    Did the Eagle Forum or some other group put out a memo to deluge the DMN with anti-caucus rhetoric today or something?

    What's so WRONG with neighborhoods getting together to talk about the issues and pick the best from among them to represent them at the convention?

    Are the letter writers just a bunch of sore losers???

    The Caucus system is NOT THE PROBLEM... APATHY (like we have had in past voter turnouts) is the problem.

    The good turnout IS A GOOD THING.

    Granted your delegate may not have won. Or the delegate selected may have not agreed with your position on something. But that does NOT mean the whole system failed.

    Caucus votes are never going to be Unanimous. They were never intended to be unanimous rubber stamp votes or a thought-free endeavor.

    Just because YOUR agenda was not served... does NOT mean the caucus system failed.

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    March 26, 2012 12:44 a.m.

    Several weeks ago KUER and Doug Febrezio had a discussion on the history of the caucus system. I believe DN and the media should make this history well known. As I recall, only a few states have caucus systems. Further, Utah had a primary system, but a certain politician some time in the early 1900s could not get elected in the primary system after many tries. He knew he could get his cronies to support him in caucus meetings, though, throughout the state. He had enough political power to change the state to a caucus system. We have suffered in this same corrupt system ever since.

    Please fact check my comments, and even better, journalists, please give us an accurate history of how and why this system came about, and who actually participates in caucuses. Thanks!

  • Taylor Orem, UT
    March 26, 2012 12:36 a.m.

    I, too, have participated in caucuses for over 20 years, and have only felt disenfranchised every time. Caucuses are loaded with special interest groups. Few attend caucuses because they normally are poorly publicized to minimize attendance and because those who have attended have had such a bad experience. I've seen persons thrown out of a caucus meeting because they wished to express an opinion. I'd like to have the people of the state, not a few back room devotees, elect our leaders.

    Though I've always been quite conservative, and realize that such a change would bring in many more moderate ideals, I think we need to do what all the people want, not just a minute, select few. The practice of electing someone at a caucus, whom we know nothing about, and have no idea whom he/she will support at his/her convention, and who is supported only by his cronies, is completely wrong in the USA. Maybe it is fine in Iran or Syria, but not here. We deserve a voice in who elected leaders will be. If not, why do we even call them elections?

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    March 25, 2012 11:57 p.m.

    I agree completely with this writer. I've participated in my Republican caucus faithfully for decades and have disliked it for just as long. Let's get rid of government by the party and bring government by the people to Utah.

  • Furry1993 Clearfield, UT
    March 25, 2012 5:23 p.m.

    The best way to fix the problem with the caucuses is to eliminate them. At least, with a primary election vote, a voter can be sure his/her vote goes where s/he wants it to go. that's absolutely not true with a caucus.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 25, 2012 5:07 p.m.

    Mike Richards,

    I don't have a dog in this fight, so I don't much care about what method Utah uses to choose its candidates. But I have two questions from your prior posts.

    First, how would going to another system (a primary system being the most likely alternative) be the GOVERNMENT choosing the candidate? I have never lived in a caucus state. But I can tell you that the govt. does not choose the primary candidates.

    Second, I understand that we are a republic and that the folks we vote for, in turn make the laws and policies for us. But we elect them via a democratic process. We vote directly for most govt. officials (the president being the rare exception). Why would voting directly for a party candidate be a problem?

    The parties are extra-constitutional anyway. Their mode of governance would not have to conform to the representational model in the constitution. Also, if parties electing candidates via a primary is so bad, does that mean the states that do it that way are somehow outside of the constitutional model?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    Article 1, Section 4: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;"

    That has been done. The State chose the Caucus system as the method we use in Utah. That is the law. It's very simple. We meet as neighbors in a precinct. We elect delegates who will use all due deliberation to qualify each candidate. Those electors will represent us at the nominating conventions.

    We are not a democracy, no matter how many people might think otherwise. We are a people who elect others to represent us in all political matters. That system keeps us safe from those whose wallets are larger than our need for their service.

    Every person elected at a Republican caucus was elected by a majority of those voting. EVERY PERSON. The will of the majority was done. Get over it.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 25, 2012 3:47 p.m.

    Open primary –

    One must have declared a Party on order to vote.
    Is given ONLY that party ticket to vote on.

    A Democrat can not vote for any Republican, Libertarian, or anyone else – and vis versa.

    That winner of the Party election – by “the people” – then goes on to the General Election.

    Utah's system is dis-enfranchising, period.
    Rationalize it all you want, but that's the facts.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    March 25, 2012 2:01 p.m.

    While I agree that the Republican caucuses are open to manipulation by the GOP, as indeed the Republican PRESIDENTIAL nominating caucuses seem to have been (blatantly) this year,in order to favor one candidate over another, to limit and skew information getting to the people at large etc, that is an argument for greater and more intelligent participation in caucuses, and greater diligence and political savvy in those harmed and misdirected by such manipulation, not an argument for ending the caucus system itself.

    Perhaps the media would educate us all better on the caucus system in Utah and give an unbiased rundown on the candidates -but don't hold your breath.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2012 12:32 p.m.

    re: Clarifying Facts,

    The caucus system determines who will appear on a ballot from those who have registered as candidates. Every name appearing on a Republican ballot has been voted on by Republicans who know the candidate and who know the issues. At the nominating conventions, if more than two candidates want the same job, voting continues until there is a majority vote for at least one of the candidates. If that candidate does not receive 60% of the vote, then the candidate with the majority vote and the candidate with the highest non-majority vote appear on the primary ballot.

    Without the caucus, the county clerk, i.e., the government, determines who will be on the ballot.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    March 25, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    Hmmm... it seems to me that a primary election with all eligible candidates would be a much better way for all citizens to have a chance to voice their opinion of who they want to run in the general election. Too many hardworking people are excluded from having their choices heard under the current system.

  • isrred Logan, UT
    March 25, 2012 11:56 a.m.

    "What the writer missed is that without the caucus, the government would choose those who would appear on the ballot."

    This is absolutely untrue. An instant runoff primary system would allow the people's vote and voice to be considered as to who they want (and don't want) to appear on the final general election ballot. The "government" has nothing to do with it.

  • Clarifying Facts Lehi, UT
    March 25, 2012 11:23 a.m.

    Peanut Gallery: How will doing away with the caucus system lead to "incumbent politicians having a much easier time getting re-elected without being accountable to their constituents?" Caucus/Convention lets candidates avoid primary elections and thus avoid their constituents. That means either incumbents stay in without being accountable to their constituents, or incumbents get booted out without letting the constituents get a say.

    Mike Richards: Could you explain how "without a caucus, the government would choose those who would appear on the ballot?" Anyone can file for election and appear on the ballot. The caucus system keeps some or all of those candidates from appearing on a primary ballot.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2012 8:41 a.m.

    What the writer missed is that without the caucus, the government would choose those who would appear on the ballot. The only choice the people would have would be to vote for a candidate who had been selected for them by the government.

    Is that what the citizens of a representative democracy want? Do they want to vote on candidates that the government put on the ballot?

    The caucus allows the people to have a voice. They elect a delegate, a representative, from their community, to elect the candidates who will appear on the ballots. The is the very definition of "representative democracy".

    Every non-caucus system proposed takes the people out of the process of selecting candidates. America is not a pure democracy where the people vote on every issue and America is not a totalitarian society where the government selects the candidates.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    March 25, 2012 1:40 a.m.

    Of course large turnout is better, but the caucus system works even without a record turnout. Those who care enough will make the effort and sacrifice to participate in the process. Tiani says that the caucus system "increases party power and decreases people power." Actually it's just the opposite. Her logic sounds somewhat appealing on paper, but in reality it will lead to incumbent politicians having a much easier time getting re-elected without being accountable to their constituents. Keep the caucus system.

  • On the other hand Spanish Fork, UT
    March 25, 2012 1:15 a.m.

    I agree. As pleased as I am to hear that folks like Mike Leavitt and Kirk Jowers are promoting reforms to the caucus system, I think the system ultimately needs a much bigger overhaul. Representative democracy is fantastic, but as the author pointed out, Utah's caucus system is hardly representative and not all that democratic, either.