Comments about ‘Letters: Caucuses do represent’

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Published: Tuesday, May 28 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, was this: " A system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous is not acceptable."

The problem is their proposals would do exactly that.

The Caucus System in Utah 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 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections. Certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in voter representation.

Bypassing the Caucus / Convention System will NOT create more participation. There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.

Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure a grass roots process 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. We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous. This is a good thing.

Neighbors discussing the best candidates and finding ways to improve this state and nation.

That is being proposed to be removed from the neighborhood caucus meeting. Dropping off our votes but not discussing. That is what is wrong with Washington DC. They don't listen to each other in a meeting. They watch from their offices. We need to change that not follow it.

Perhaps the Count My Vote group should go watch WALL-E from Pixar again, the people on the spaceship.

We are talking neighborhood town halls. We aren't just meeting to elect delegates. We believe the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group would ruin that.

Constitutional_Conservative
CEDAR CITY, UT

Kirk Jowers is a D.C. Lobbyist. He, Mike Leavitt and those who are very wealthy are very upset and disgusted with the caucus system. Why? Because they cannot buy elections in Utah. The people and grassroots decide elections. They don't like this and are extremely upset.

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

Voters are not so stupid that they can't be counted on to research candidates and issues and represent their own views in a primary election. Delegates are not so wise that they can't be influenced by money, hype, misinformation, or other factors that have nothing to do with a candidate's qualifications for elected office or the merits of a policy resolution.

The writer says that at her caucus meeting, delegates were chosen who "most closely represented [the] thinking" of the majority of the caucus-goers on most issues. That's already a very watered-down version of representation. It gets worse because the delegates are under no obligation to vote in any particular way, and rarely if ever answer to their precinct for the way they vote.

Representative democracy is fundamental to how our government runs. We can't and shouldn't weigh in individually on every issue affecting our country, so we choose representatives to do this for us. It's precisely for that reason that we should weigh in individually and directly on the candidates who we want to represent us. Picking people to pick people for us can only result in less representation.

isrred
South Jordan, UT

The problem lies in that while a delegate may share my positions on issues, they most certainly do not share my level of intensity or importance placed on each of those issues. In allowing me to vote for the candidate that I WANT, am able to weigh each issue against each other to determine for whom I want to vote.

I understand we live in a Representative Democratic Republic but I want to be able to choose my representatives that run the government, not choose representatives to filter out who my options are before I even get the chance to vote.

Kris
Highland, Utah

The problem with going straight to primaries is that you actually don't get to vote for the candidate you want. You get to choose from among candidates hand-picked for you by special interest groups. They won't represent you; they will represent the big money that finances their campaigns. Your options are filtered either way. At least with the caucus/convention system you have a chance to be one of the people choosing the candidates. The caucus/convention system allows people without big money behind them to run and win. No system is without flaws, but the caucus/convention system comes closest to actually representing the grassroots.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

If the caucus worked so great then why is all we have representing us in salt lake and DC big name, big business, and rich representatives? Lee, hatch, chaffetz, bishop, etc all backed by huge lobbyists and are career politicians. Stephansen, Lockhart, Dayton, bramble, etc all rich and backed by corporate sponsors.

I'm not seeing any "normal" or "average" folk up on Capitol Hill.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Why not simply allow everyone who wants to run, be on the ballot in a primary?

We even had Orly Taitz, the birther queen, on the ballot in the last primary here.
But, too bad for her, she got too few votes--didn't make it in the top two to run in the general election.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Conservatives seem to believe that the word “people” only includes those human beings otherwise known as businessmen. Or that they would only want business interests to be represented in government.

In order to accomplish their agenda, the must do every thing they can to dilute and misdirect the will of non-business citizens.

First they establish political parties where the select group can decide behind closed doors who will be the parties candidates.

Next they divide up the state into groups by location according to automatically produce the best voting results for their party.

Meanwhile a massive campaign of untruth and misleading information is presented to the voters to popularize their candidates.

Caucuses, conventions and such are used to make the voters think that they can pick the candidates. But in truth the final candidate is always the one selected by the party way back in the beginning.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

"Voters are not so stupid that they can't be counted on to research candidates and issues and represent their own views in a primary election."

In Utah, most voters' views on important issues are simply mindless repetitions of Republican talking points, shallow rhetoric, and hate-speech directed at the president. But the voters are not unique. Politicians also espouse myths, fables, totally unfounded assumptions, small-picture thinking, and gaps in logic wide enough to drive a garbage truck through. I'm not confident that Republicans are capable of choosing candidates who can see past the partisan blindfold, regardless of whether they use a caucus or any other system. They are viewing the world through extremist glasses right now, and until they shed those, rational thinking and reasonable action will not prevail.

But for what it's worth, I would prefer an open primary to the caucus system any day of the week. That way at least I would have a voice in Utah politics, since by principle I cannot join the dominant party and am therefore excluded.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

If we allowed all who wanted to run to be on the primary, how many ballots would we allow until only two candidates became the obvious "winners"? Would Clinton have won if we were allowed to vote until one candidate received the "majority" of all votes cast? It was obvious that the "majority" favored a conservative, but the vote was split by Perot and Clinton, a liberal, won.

Having a caucus eliminates that kind of nonsense. All Republicans in a precinct vote for delegates. Those precinct members assign to those delgates the responsibility of nominating candidates who will appear on the primary ballot. That is how things work in a Republic. We do not vote by mob rule, but we elect "electors", or has someone forgotten that the President is elected by the electoral college and not by popular vote?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The only way Caucuses don't "represent" is if you don't attend your neighborhood caucus meetings.

You can't skip your caucus meeetings and then belly-ache that they didn't represent you. And if you went and voted... just because the person YOU wanted didn't win, doesn't mean there was a conspiracy against you.. it just means you were with the minority.

You can't stay home and then assume the system is to blame for the person you wanted not winning. You can't vote and then complain the system prevented the person you wanated from winning (when in reality you were just in the minority). The system is supposed to indicate what the majority wants! If you don't go, or are in the minority... you can't blame the system for not sending YOUR represenative! That's they way elections work people!

I don't know why caucuses are blamed (mostly by people who coudln't be bothered to show up and vote)... for their guy not winning.

Confused
Sandy, UT

2 bits said " The only way Caucuses don't "represent" is if you don't attend your neighborhood caucus meetings.

Well 2 bits, I WENT to my caucus meeting here in the south end of the valley, I even joined the GOP so I could go to my caucus meeting..

What I saw at least in my precinct was appalling. One of the State GOP board was boasting how proud he was that he helped "Drive" Bennett out.

The citizens who were there that had a rational and logical ideas to solve problems, were shouted down. It was not what I thought the "process" was suppose to be. People showed up but was quickly dismissed.

The ones that don't want a change are those that would lose their power to the people. The people can determine which GOP candidate to vote for without having some group say who it is.

As for the caucus being a way for the citizens to select candidates has never been to all the whine and dining the candidates to do persuade the delegate to CHANGE his Vote from what the people of his district wants..

So no, it is not representative government.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Confused
How was it not representative?
Everybody there got to vote, right? Just because your position got shouted down and didn't win... doesn't make it "Non-Representative"! You voted... The majority still won... That's Representative!

Sounds like your caucus had some special problems (not all caucuses had your problem). For instance, GOP Board members controling the meeting. There should be no GOP board memebers even in the meeting. It's SUPPOSED to be controled by one of your neighbors (a volunteer who went to some training on procedure including keeping silent on their own politics and focus on the process).

I knew every person in our meeting. Not one of them was a GOP party official. In our meeting we were instructed to pick 2 delegates for State and 2 for National convention. They asked for volunteers. Only 2 vounteered. Eventually we got more people to volunteer. They each got 5 minutes to express their background and their views, we voted, we counted, the winners were announced, and went home.

I have close friends who didn't like the outcome. But even they admit that the majority won. That's representative.

OHBU
Columbus, OH

I'm very skeptical of anyone who argues that the people can't be trusted to vote because they're too easily swayed by money and power. Sorry, even delegates and party die-hards are swayed by the same things.

"Grass roots"? Give me a break. When you read that, think Tea Party--funded by billionaires and promoted on the most watched cable channel. Primaries promote grass roots way more than a caucus system. Here in Ohio, anyone can appear on the primary ballot. However, to do so, they must deliver a pre-set number of signatures on a petition. That way, the wackjob nobody would vote for still doesn't appear because they must have at least some support.

It boggles the mind that people think the caucus system is as representative. A voter is required to sit through a long meeting that is carefully choreographed and then vote for someone to vote for them. I understand the need for representative government, but why the Pharisaical requirement to vote for a representative to vote for my representative?

Fender Bender
Saint George, UT

RE:Utah_1

In Washington County, around 30% of voters vote straight-party Republican. That means that candidates are actually competing for the remaining 70% of the vote. Since the Republican candidate for any given office only needs to the support 20% of that 70%, there is usually no doubt that the Republican will win the election.

What does this have to do with caucuses?

Republican candidates don't need to appeal directly to the general populace. As long as they can win the support of the delegates, and get their name on the ballot as the Republican nominee, all of the hard work is done and the election is pretty much guaranteed.

How many delegates are there in Washington County? I'm not sure, but I think it's between 100 and 200. A candidate would only need to earn (or buy) the support of just a handful of outspoken and influential delegates in Washington County to secure the election for themselves.

A caucus system is not an effective control against shady politics, especially in a place like Utah. In a state that leans heavily to one party or the other, a caucus system makes it easier for dishonest politicians to get elected.

Fender Bender
Saint George, UT

One more problem with the current system - caucuses exclude more voters due to the fact that they require voters to be at a specific place at a specific time. There's no early voting, there's no mail-in voting, and you can't go earlier in the day if your schedule doesn't fit with the meeting time. Lower income people are probably under-represented at caucuses because a higher proportion of them have jobs that require them to work in the evening.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

OHBU,
At least you got to vote for 2 representatives to represent you at the Convention.

How much say does any Utahn have on who represents them at the DEMOCRAT Convention (hint... NONE). When was the last time any Utahn got to vote to select who would represent them at the Democrat Convention (hint... never)). So why all the whining?

At least you got to SELECT who represented your neighborhood at the Republican Convention. Utah Democrats have never enjoyed that privilege. Their Convention isn't attended by commen everyday Utahns selected by a grass-roots vote. Mo caucus, no vote on convention representatives, no primary! Democrat primary candidates are picked by Democrat party_officials and party insiders (not you. You have not vote on who attends the Convetion or who your primary candidates are. Why no complaining about that?.

Would you like it if the Republican_Establishment appointed THEMSELVS to pick the party primary candidates? Cause that's how Democrats do it now. And how Republicans will do it if you win.

There's litterally no feasible way to conduct a primary to pick the primary canididates. IF I have another post left I'll tell you why...

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

...The reason it's totally unfeasible to have a primary to pick the primary candidates (and why no party in any State does this) is...

It would cost the party millions. You would have to rent space in every community, rent election equipment, pay or volunteer staff to monitor and conduct the election, people and machines to count, oversee, and validate the results and insure against fraud.

And how effective would that pre-primary parimary be?

I can't imagine the turnout to this new PRE-Primary Primary being any better than we get at the REAL Priamry (currently under 20%) or the current caucus turnout (under 15%). Heck... why would anyone go? We don't even know who the candidates are yet. There are dozens (instead of 2). We don't know their character or their stand on anything yet. No debates yet. Advertising hasn't started yet (because they don't have any $$$ until supporters know they are viable and can make the primary or not).

What makes you think this is economically feasible? Who pays for it?
It's not a feasible option (and nobody does it).

OHBU
Columbus, OH

2 bits,

You seem to think I'm only opposed to the Republican caucus. I'm not. I'm opposed to the way primary candidates are chosen in each party. It's not a situation where you have to have an election to select primary candidates--as you called it, a "pre-primary primary." The way many other states do it makes much more sense and could actually be cheaper than the caucus system. It's quite simple: anyone can be a primary candidate so long as they can deliver a pre-determined number of signatures of support. This is the way presidential and other candidates end up on roles elsewhere. This way, there needs to be genuine support for your bid to appear on the ballot, but it has nothing to do with party officials selecting who can be voted on, and who can't. After that, you have an open primary election and the person with the most votes wins. The says whether they want a democratic or republican ballot, and they vote. Quite simple.

As to how viable it is versus a caucus system: currently 10 states have a caucus system, and the other 40 have a primary.

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