I’d like to thank Vern Anderson, Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Page Editor, for publishing an exclusive Op Ed piece I wrote
Let me add a few more points: The tea party/9.12 groups would do well to consider a nationwide campaign to urge all 50 states to adopt Utah’s “caucus/convention” system. In “Primary” states, the two parties have little to no control over who represents them on the ballot. If candidates put the initial “R” behind their name, the party has every right to protect its imprimatur (name) and its platform. The best way to do that is to adopt a “constitutional representative republic” model. That is exactly what Utah does, and it works well. To sum up the advantages:
1. It costs less. (Primaries cost millions. Caucus/conventions only thousands.)
2. Incumbents can more easily be replaced. (Incumbent Representative Chris Cannon in 2008 – replaced by Jason Chaffetz; Incumbent Senator Bob Bennett in 2010 – Primary run-off in progress between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.)
3. The candidates are more loyal to the party platform. (This system holds the candidates more accountable.)
4. Anyone can get involved – it’s grassroots. (If you don’t like what’s happening in Washington, just show up to your local neighborhood caucus and bring enough friends to get elected.)
5. It more carefully vets the candidates. (Duties of elected delegates are to study all the candidates and represent their neighborhoods and report back to them on which candidate/s they will vote for at the convention.)
Traditional (and Tired) Criticisms
1. It’s a “closed” system. (Only to those who stayed home and don’t like the results of what their neighbors who DID show up decided.)
2. It gives the two parties too much control. (Only to those who stayed home and therefore didn’t have a say in the outcome. In the caucus/convention system the Party is defined by who shows up.)
3. It attracts the extremes of both parties. (Then next time, those who were disappointed in the outcome may attend their caucus and bring their friends and get elected.)
4. It allows good incumbents to get unseated. (Only if those who wanted to unseat the good incumbent show up and elect enough delegates to unseat that incumbent.)
I think you get my point: Those who don’t show up and get involved cannot also rationally sit back and be the Monday night quarterbacks. If you don’t like the results of this system, show up next time!
Cherilyn Eagar is a former U.S. Senate candidate and the vice president of WebsTarget, a Salt Lake City-based real estate Internet marketing company. She is a Republican state delegate who also serves on the board of Utah Federation of Republican Women and has worked on political campaigns in five states since 1964.