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Front Page » March 27, 2012 » Opinion » Don't eliminate caucus for primaries- Letters to the Editor
Published 1,794 days ago

Don't eliminate caucus for primaries- Letters to the Editor

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Dear editor:

Sometimes when I write an opinion piece I really feel like that robot on the old television show "Lost In Space" who ran around yelling "Danger Will Robinson, Danger"; well "Danger Emery County, Danger". There are two movements afoot in Emery County, on the state level, and on the national level that are threatening the power of your vote. The first, and most immediate is the movement on the part of some members of the Utah Republican party to eliminate the caucus system in favor of a strictly primary system and the other is the movement on the national level to eliminate the electoral college; both have the same net affect and end goal . . . effectively weakening your vote.

Contrary to popular belief we, in the United States, do not have a democratic form of government. We have a Republican form of government based on democratic principles and ideals. The difference being that in a true democracy, every citizen votes directly on every matter; in a republic every citizen votes to elect one from among their community to represent them and those representatives cast votes on behalf of their constituency. Currently, in Utah the political parties select candidates to represent Utahns in conventions in which elected delegates, representing their precincts, do the selecting, a system that is a direct reflection of our national government. Utahns in every community, whether Republican or Democrats or any other recognized party, get together and elect fellow community members, delegates, to represent them in convention to select candidates for local, state, and national offices.

In the Republican party, each precinct is allocated one state and one county delegate additional delegates maybe allocated based on relative Republican strength in that precinct. According to Bill Dellos, Emery County Republican Party Chair, the term "relative Republican strength" is traditionally interpreted as "the number of Republicans in a precinct that voted in the last Gubernatorial election as a percent of the total number of registered Republicans in that precinct." The advantage of this system is easy to see and understand, a small community with an active Republican presence can have as much, or more, power to select a candidate or decide County Republican Party policy as a community many times larger with a less active Republican presence.In other words the caucus system levels the playing field and is a true grassroots system.

In Emery County there is a movement to change our Republican by-laws and constitution to raise the primary threshold, the number of delegate votes that a candidate must achieve in a caucus in order to avoid a primary, from 60 percent to 70 percent. Raising this primary threshold to this point would insure that almost every contest involving two or more Republican contestants for the same office during a nominating convention would force a primary and  incur, in my opinion, unnecessary expenses for the county. It would also increase expenses for the candidates, and more importantly, reduce the effectiveness of the Republican voters in the smaller communities in the process of selecting the Republican candidate. In other words, voters in the more populated Emery County towns and cities would, inevitably, by sheer force of numbers select the Republican candidates. Equally alarming is that this effort on the part of those individuals who support the primary system is that it is an effort to circumvent the state law which requires the use of the present caucus system; and while it may presently appear to be only effective with respect to Emery County I believe it is a covert attack on the caucus system statewide by those individuals, mostly representing the state's higher population areas, who wish to change our system to a primary only system giving those high population areas the same unfair advantage, based on the sheer force of numbers, in selecting Republican candidates for state and national office; the Wasatch front, the Wasatch back and Dixie will, inevitably, end up negating your choice and vote.

You and your delegates have probably been exposed to an "information overload" of "facts" concerning this pseudo change to a primary system implicit to the raising of the primary threshold to 70 percent and will, no doubt, be exposed to even more at the county convention but I think the bottom line is easy to see if you use the common sense God has given you and simple math. Let's say there are two communities A and B each who have their mandated one delegate. A has 1,500 Republican voters and B has 150. In the last Gubernatorial election community A had 750 Republicans vote in the election while B had 100 vote and there is one extra delegate to be allocated. B would get the extra delegate because it had the highest "relative Republican strength", 75 percent as opposed to A's 50 percent. Thus the smaller community would have the greater impact on the selection of a candidate than the larger under the caucus system while under the primary system the larger would have the greater impact.

If you are in favor of the short term increased power a primary system may give your community; if you are from a smaller community and you want someone else to make your decisions for you; if you want the Wasatch Front, the Wasatch Back, and Dixie to decide for you who the Republican Candidates will be or; if you want to give the advantage to incumbents and those with the money to buy slick advertising and giveaways rather than those without resources who run on the issues then instruct your Republican delegates to vote for increasing the primary threshold. If, however, you really want your vote to count; if you see through this naked power play; if you want your community to have a voice that counts in selecting county Republican candidates; if you don't want to be a member of a Utah Republican party without any voice; or if you want to level the playing field for the little guy and the challenger and make the focus of elections the issues not flashy posters, giveaways, sound bites and advertising then instruct your Republican delegates to vote against raising the primary threshold at the upcoming County Nominating Convention.

In either event if you care about your vote plan to attend the Republican Party Nominating Convention on March 30.

Lou Sansevero


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