Many believe that Republicans dominate the state of Utah. Well, that isn’t completely true. Yes, every elected statewide official has an R behind their name, but that doesn’t mean we are a one party state. Just look at the party.
Last Saturday at the Republican State Convention, the Count My Vote group (read Buy-my-Vote) wanted to change the Republican system. This group is headed up by LaVarr Webb (big-money interest), Kirk Jowers (wanna-be candidate for something), former Republican Governor Mike Leavitt (Progressive), Dave Hansen (Former chair, Orrin Hatch and now Mia Love campaign manager), and touted on the air waves by Doug Wright (wanna-be candidate and Progressive). http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765630111/Why-moderates-lost-the-caucus-vote.html
You see, there really are two parties in Utah, they just all exist under the name Republican. It is true the Democrat Party is not getting a lot of traction in Utah, so that is not the other party I’m talking about. However, there is the liberal, almost Democrat-wing of the Republican Party. Then there is the Republican Party platform group, where most of the actual Republican Party resides. The first group of Republicans are actually called Progressives. Delegates, who represent the average Utah voter directly from a neighborhood meeting, would never elect them. However, their name recognition, and their big special interest money could fool many in a primary. They would never be elected with D behind their name, so here they are in the Republican Party.
Delegates may have aligned themselves from time to time with what they believed to be Republican values, and found out they were electing “progressive” Republicans. When Utahns had finally had enough, the “secret” of the caucus was unveiled, and record attendance occurred. Suddenly neighbors woke up and realized they did not have to wait for a primary, or the general election to “shape” the landscape in choosing candidates. This is not about delegate power as many have professed, but about neighborhood responsibility. As any delegate that has served will tell you, the system is different inside than it appears on the outside. There is so much to learn about the candidates, and the real issues of the day. The discussions are deep, and the integrity, honesty, and viability of a candidate are more easily accessed one on one, face to face.
The Count My Vote / Buy My Vote alternative is to rush things to a primary where people are elected on how many signs, billboards, radio and TV ads they can get out. 30-second sound bites, little catchy phrases, and worst of all some big name endorsement become the deciding factors in a primary.
Kirk Jowers calls our system antiquated. While we can always do things to improve upon the system, these neighborhood meetings are vital to maintaining our Republic. We are a Republic, after all, and NOT a Democracy, as is a common misconception. He has compared himself to “George Washington” wanting to see delegates give up their power. George must be rolling in his grave. George Washington, along with all of the founding fathers recognized that the government closest to the people was the best. How much closer can you get elections than a neighborhood meeting?
Saying we are not allowing many to participate is not true. Most people can plan to be there. Someone will always have SOMETHING that may override their desire to be there. Yes, there will be young men and women on missions, and in military service. Their service is valuable to their church, and to our country. Moreover, they have a vote in the primary and the general election as an absentee ballot when the election is for someone that will actually affect policy. Their vote is counted for elected governing officials. Nevertheless, because they cannot attend the meeting, they will not be able to be involved in the discussion; they will not yet know the candidates that are running. If we open the door in these simple and wonderful meetings to corruption through proxy voting or absentee voting, it will ruin the entire purpose of meeting with your neighbors to discuss the direction YOUR neighborhood would like to see the party move. The Republican Party is a private organization. If Count (Buy) My Vote want to control the outcome, they should get elected in their neighborhoods, or start their own organization.
You have heard the accusation that more involvement is needed. We have had record turnout at the neighborhood meetings for the last 4 years. This is a red herring. Turnout is not the real issue. Control of the party is. It is hard to control so many engaged neighbors who are electing someone to represent them, and study out the issues, and the candidates in depth. It is much easier to control the masses with a primary. The “old-guard” of the Republican Party is not happy with their results, so they want to change the game. I would love to see more involved. And I plan to continue to educate people so they can be more involved in the process. But, apathy will continue until voters decide to not be apathetic. Changing the system will not change apathy.
Last point, this has nothing to do with any “tea-party” or any other Washington DC group controlling Utah. This is about Utah values. This is about Utahns standing up for those values. It’s about more Utahns reading the Republican Party platform and recognizing its absolute beauty, and then scratching their head and saying, “Why doesn’t my Republican representative stick to the platform?” It’s about average Utah Republicans taking back control of their own party from the Progressives.