There is political mischief afoot in Utah. Termites are attacking the pillars of citizen involvement in state and local politics.
There are several ways to run a government. You can put one person in charge, a few in charge (always those with money and power), or everybody in charge. Our Founders sifted through the good and bad of each system to create a republic, anchored by a written Constitution. That is our genius: we glean the best from all systems. States also drafted constitutions. Utah’s provided elections with exceptional local involvement from the common folk at neighborhood caucuses. Every other year we caucus to pick delegates who then vett all candidates and support the best. This is grass roots at its finest—people picking those they know and trust to represent them.
If the rich and powerful of our state—a group including past governors—succeeds, we will lose that voice.
Their initiative, Count my Vote, would junk the caucus system for political primaries. Here is the problem: primaries favor the privileged—only the wealthy have millions for TV ads, endless mailers, and political games to run in a primary. The average person, who may be well suited to represent you in office, will be boxed out by the big names and big dollar boys. The elites control the game: pick candidates, pull strings, make deals, court outside interests, and manipulate the system. Politics becomes an elitist shell game rather than the people’s voice. Just like national politics, and who wants that for Utah?
The elites say us ordinary folks don‘t get it right—that we can’t make good decisions, and they can do better. You get the idea they think we can’t find our way out of a paper bag. We should be insulted. When the powerful make decisions, the decisions favor the powerful. They say the primary system will increase voter participation. Did they, along with Mike Leavitt (Daily Herald, Sept 19, 2013), miss the packed rooms of the 2012 neighborhood caucuses? They blame all the current political problems on caucuses. Really? Could you show me some proof on that? They say people like mothers are disadvantaged—their duties prevent attendance at a caucus. Give me a break; once every two years you can’t ask your mother-in-law to babysit? They say it will reduce fraud. Surely you jest—since when do we have pristine primaries? The Count Your Vote cartel is using skewed statistics and stilted reasoning to smokescreen the public.
One measure of national freedom is whether each citizen has a respected voice in what affects him. The real issue here is who has the power—the people or the elite? When you attend a caucus to pick your delegate, you speak. In a primary, you watch big money speak, instead.
In 1835, Frenchman Alexis de Toqueville spent a year in the U.S. and then wrote Democracy in America to share his penetrating observations, which are still valid 180 years later. He said that, while “aristocracies are…more expert in the science of legislation…and the means of democracy are…,more imperfect…yet they (the common people) will never systematically adopt a line of conduct hostile to the majority…(and) they bring about good results which they never thought of.” In short, we ordinary folk may be less polished, but we get better results.
Petitions will soon circulate to put Count Your Vote, on the 2014 ballot. If you aren’t capable of making decisions about your well-being, sign that petition. If, on the other hand, you are smart enough to find your way out of a paper bag, say no to the return of an aristocracy; refuse the petitions and encourage others to do likewise. We don’t need an oligarchy—minority rule by the wealthy and powerful few. Our republic is run by the majority—that which does the most good for the most of us. Please preserve it.