Comments about ‘My view: Caucus system serves Utah best’

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Published: Friday, Sept. 6 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

The caucus & convention system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

Our problem with voter turnout is it has not kept up with the population increase. The voter turnout keeps going up but not as fast as the population. Some of that is the younger voters, where Utah has a larger percentage of them and they aren't, as a group, as involved. Also those moving in and not understanding our system.

Who gets to pick the people that show up on the ballot? It is the voters through the caucus system. The candidates get to decide if they are going to run and each of us vote to have them vetted. We put the best ones we have that volunteered to run on the ballot. One of the reasons we get involved in the caucus system is to have a say as to who is on the ballot.

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous.

Furry1993
Ogden, UT

The caucus system serves the entrenched extreme wings of the political parties. It does not service the state of Utah nor its citizens.

ChiMed
South Jordan, UT

Really? In my experience at multiple caucuses in different cities, a caucus was a meeting of a group of extremists (meaning they opposed everything the other party did on principle & thought they were actively trying to destroy the country). Most of them didn't know each other. There seemed to be two purposes to the caucus meeting: (1) Let those in attendance yell about how horrible the other party was (this took most of the time). (2) "Elect" someone (often unopposed) without having any idea of his (almost always a him) beliefs, policies, or how to contact him to hold him accountable for anything. How are accountable representatives for the people coming out of this again? (There, now the usual crowd can put some thought into their responses instead of copying & pasting.)

Mike in Cedar City
Cedar City, Utah

What a surprise that the Iron County Republican chair would take this self serving position. The anti democratic caucus system tends to maximize party hack power.

Ranch
Here, UT

The Caucus system lets Gayle Ruzicka and her ilk determine who runs in an election. If they aren't far enough to the right, Ruzicka yells "off with their heads" (figuratively), and their heads go rolling (again, figuratively).

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I don't think the caucus system necessarily favors extremists. It just favors those willing to get involved at the grass-roots level... and that's usually people who are very interested, or very motivated (call them "extremists" if you will).

I don't know if neighborhood caucuses serve Utah the "best". But it's not the villain. Some people just want a steady stream of incumbents and highly funded candidates to make to the general election (without the incumbents having to be bothered with new-comers, debates, and meeting the public at caucus meetings).

But a primary to pick the primary candidates would not necessarily be an improvement over caucuses to pick the primary candidates.

Proof:
Nobody showed up at Utah's most recent Primary election (most of you probably don't even know the primary happened). If you can't be bothered to show up at the actual primary election... how many people do you think would show up for a primary to pick those primary candidates, and pre-primary including relatively unknown candidates who haven't even really started their campaigns yet? When you can't even show up and vote in the REAL primary!

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "In my experience at multiple caucuses in different cities, a caucus was a meeting of a group of extremists . . . ."

That's just elitist newspeak for "my candidate didn't win."

Utah can't afford to turn politics over to the moneyed elite. If critical decisions about who represents us are taken as the result of high-stakes, back-room deals, that will obligate candidates to perpetual fealty to those moneyed interests, and remove our representatives even one step further from those they ostensibly represent.

Applying grass-roots, democratic rigor to candidate selection is always a good thing.

Stepping even further away from the people represented would be a bad thing.

The Hammer
lehi, utah

The caucus system allows little guys like me to be able to serve in a political office and vote and be responsible for what our nation does. The extremes we see are because people have started to group into areas with like minds. They represent people who refuse to look at facts and data and tend to knee jerk. but extremes happen whether we have a caucus system or a primary but a caucus system brings politics to the local level and forces the local people to take responsibility for our government. Conflict in politics is not bad its part of the process.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Blake,
This is NOT the 1930s, there are MANY more means of communication now than then.

“Delegates are elected by the majority of their neighbors who know and trust them”

I only knew 1 of the two delegates from my district, and my trust in the one I knew declined following my discussions with him.

My experience with the caucus was very disappointing.

Your vote does not count under the current caucus system. The party elites want to keep it that way.

Why else would they sponsor a counter-petition drive with a similar sounding name? Their intent is to confuse and dissuade.

Why are they afraid of even allowing a vote on the issue? If they are so concerned about the overall democratic process, why do they oppose putting the issue before the voters?

trgrant
Riverton, UT

Our caucus system works. It provides Utahns with a chance to make their voice heard. Better than a primary would. I like that we hear from our neighbors, then pick a few people to represent us to the party. It is a true form of republican system that keeps this state one of the best managed states in the union.

Change to a primary, and we become Illinois. Keep our caucus system and we keep corruption and big business at bay.

zosomm90
Provo, UT, UT

The idea that Blake Cozzens is a party hack is laughable. Party elite in every other state in this nation have in one way or another decided that direct primaries are the best way to get their candidates elected. If the party elite (and who that is is debatable) here in Utah defend the caucus system, it is most likely because the caucus system is what they are used to and direct primaries open themselves up to future unknown factors.

If you don't believe in our Republic, and would rather have more democracy (a lousy form of government) in our state, then support the "Buy My Vote" initiative.

PeanutGallery
Salt Lake City, UT

This is a great op-ed, and I fully agree. The caucus/convention system is a wise arrangement, and it works well. It gives qualified newcomers a better chance to get elected without needing tons of money, which keeps incumbents more accountable to their constituents. It gives average citizens a much better voice than going straight to a primary.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Best?

Does it even serve Utah?

I certainly haven't seen it. If you look at our Congressional representation how can you not help but be embarrassed?

VST
Bountiful, UT

@Ranch,

You give Gayle Ruzicka, way more credit than she deserves. You apparently think all Republicans are sheep and cannot think for themselves – they are not.

For this conservative Republican, she is way out there where the “busses never run.” Among many other Republicans, I am not alone in this opinion. I tune her out and formulate my own judgment and opinions.

Cherilyn Eagar
Holladay, UT

So those that are commenting here who favor getting rid of the neighborhood election (caucus) would rather have big lobbyists and consultants buy the elections? Please explain. That makes NO sense! I think you are the sour grapes Bob Bennett Republicans.

At least with the neighborhood system, the people can be a check and balance against the big money lobbyists to minimize crony politics. If you investigate this further, you may discover that you will be giving the strength of your individual voice to the Karl Roves of the world if you eliminate this grassroots system. Other states are facing bankruptcy because they have abandoned this local control.

If the extremists of both parties are controlling the outcome, please explain how we elected moderates such as Orrin Hatch and Jim Matheson who have both supported socialist health care policies? Or how did we elect a state legislature so moderate that it stopped a Prohibition of Medicaid Expansion bill? And that also supports the big government takeover of our schools through school grading and public-private partnerships also called "Charter Schools" where the taxpayers funding those schools no longer have a voice with school boards they can't elect?

utahreader
CENTERVILLE, UT

I can't stand the caucus system. It is hard to get to the meetings, there is no parking and you have to park blocks and blocks away. Then it takes forever and what am I voting for? A stranger who is going to pick out for me who is going to pick a candidate for me? We never discuss the candidates, delegates just stand up and say something lame like "I believe in motherhood and apple pie, you should pick me". There is no vetting of candidates, who are these people? Then the delegates get duped at the party convention. I feel disenfranchised.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Does it really matter if we have a primary system, or a caucus system... if nobody bothers to vote in the primaries? Which is the case BTW.

Where were all these people crying for primaries a month ago when we got like 10% turnout for the primary election?

IF we could get all these whiners to show up at their party primary... THEN I could be convinced that replacing neighborhood Caucuses with primary is a good idea. But not when only 10-15% bother to show up and vote in the primary election.

Wa wa... it's hard to get to the meetings... it's hard to get to the primary too. If it's too hard to get to your neighborhood meeting it's going to be too hard to get to your primary (where there is no discussion of the candidates and ya'll just vote based on the sign you saw on somebody's lawn, or the commercial you saw on TV).

Guess what...It's not easy to study all the propositions and candidates.

If you feel disenfranchised because it's not easy enough for you to make an uninformed push-button choice... good for you... stay home.

concerned conservative
Cedar City, UT

2 bits you nailed it! Great letter Mr.Cozzens we appreciate your leadership on this topic. "Count my vote" is simply an effort to "Buy my vote" by the rich elites that have been listening to the sniveling Bob Bennett. They need a way to control things, they don't like to let the surfs have a say in the process. BTW for those Mike Lee haters, he was elected in a primary against Tim Bridgewater not the 60% at the convention, in fact Bridgewater almost beat him due to Tim Stewart and his underhanded temple mailer.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"The caucus system represents a republic form of government. Nowhere in the Constitution or founding documents of this nation will you find the word "democracy."
______________________________

Cozzens might check out Article 1 of the Constitution. It requires that members of the House of Representatives be chosen by “the people”. Cozzens needs to explain what exactly he thinks the framers had in mind.

Contrary to what many believe, democracy preceded republican government in America by a century and a half. William Bradford became Governor of Plymouth Colony by popular vote of the Pilgrim colonists in April 1621. Throughout the history of colonial America, elections were held for offices including colonial legislatures. So although the American republic didn’t come until 1776, its roots are found in the English models of democracy that were transported to the New World where they started taking root and developing an American spin of their own long before George Washington was even born.

I understand why some partisans oppose the primary system. It threatens the party establishment that wants to keep control of choosing candidates.

Sal
Provo, UT

Sorry Blake, you can kiss the caucus system goodbye. Delegates do not represent the voters. They certainly didn't when they ousted Bennett against the will of the people. Plus, how do you account for 10,000 missionaries left out of the process, and thousands of military personnel who cannot attend the meetings?

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