About two years ago, a bunch of political power-broker elites met with the intent to kill the Utah caucus system. I obtained one of their emails with their agenda for the meeting (held in an exclusive club – go figure). Essentially, they all have sour grapes that they couldn’t get elected and find a way to push the system back in their favor rather than having to more directly deal with the great unwashed. What better way to do so than make campaigns so expensive and cost prohibitive that only their big money-selected candidates will be able to enter?
Thus, they decided to try to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and push for a virtual or actual primary only system under the guise of “Count My Vote” (including an initial $500,000 in cash). As such, let me repost my explanation on how this ruse works and why they hate the caucus system so much:
We are aware of a push to kill Utah’s neighborhood caucus system and are confident of who the actors behind the push are. But why should anyone care? Why not do as they wish and move to a primary election only?
Simply put: a primary-only system rips power from you and your neighbors and places it squarely in the hands of elite interest groups with oodles of cash.
Right now, by attending a caucus meeting, you virtually shut out the big money interest groups. You know your neighbors, their principles, and their character. A big money group isn’t going to gain traction endorsing someone in such a meeting; nor can they when you realize that hundreds of these meetings are occurring at the same time. These meeting are the greatest means of empowering the unconnected ‘little guy’ and true grass-roots action.
Next, after the meeting, you and/or your neighbor has been elected to represent the neighborhood at the party’s convention to whittle down candidates who will either go on to a primary election or straight to the general election (depending on the percent of votes they garnered). The convention is also very effective at interdicting big money and outside influences. At the convention candidates court a manageable number of typically highly motivated, issues-oriented voters and they have a list of who they are and how to contact them. The result is that candidates can comfortably run shoe string campaigns and literally individually meet with each voter. Another benefit is that, in this phase, campaigns tend to focus on issues and specifics rather than fluff like expensive baby kissing ads. That means candidates who aren’t politically or fiscally well-connected have a fighting chance to be considered and nominated for the office they seek. It opens candidacy up to John Doe rather being so cost prohibitive that you need connections to big donors or independently wealthy.
The caucus and convention system grates elites as well as in-state and out-of-state political money pushers because it simply sucks so much power out of their hands. Once we hit primary and general elections, the elites can begin to peddle their influence as campaign costs skyrocket in an effort to contact potential voters with the fluffy mailers and ads lacking any substance (sadly, yes that wins elections and it’s the voters fault). However, these special interest groups only gained any significant power after you and your neighbors had their say and chose the candidates they could fund. The political elites and big donors want this constraint knocked off and want to become the king-makers without distractions.
I urge you to attend your neighborhood caucus and contact your neighborhood’s delegates. The neighborhood caucus is the great equalizer – use it! If you are not sure who they are, someone in your neighborhood does or you can contact your party offices and they should be able to tell you. I also ask that you contact the Governor and your state Representative and Senator and ask them to oppose any and all efforts to kill the caucus system…unless you are particularly fond of big money influence in politics and a deluge of vacuous political ads lasting for months…
They’re now on Plan D: Pump money into an initiative effort (with paid, not volunteer, signature gatherers, of course) to trick citizens to give greater political power to the political elites and big donors. Don’t fall for the gimmick.
Addendum: Adding a video that sums most of the points made above:
Additionally, the proposed initiative ironically makes getting on a primary ballot harder by increasing the signature threshold (again favoring the well-funded and politically-connected): “The Count My Vote Proposal Hurts Ballot Access”
Finally, an important problem I had not thought of is that the primaries will turn rural Utah into “flyover country” for state-wide election races ( Congressional, Governor, Attorney General etc). In a primary, the candidates will need the biggest bang for the buck by targeting (and catering to) the largest voting pools. Those pools primarily reside along the Wasatch Front. With the caucus system, rural delegates must be contacted, with a primary, population centers become the focus. Rural Utah will be largely ignored and lose influence and representation by state-wide office holders.