Friday Musings: Some Political Flotsam and Jetsam

The Utah County Purists. Utah County, where I mostly grew up, is a terrific place. It has a lot of excellent state legislators and other elected officials – almost all of them Republicans. Too bad the county Republican Party is embarrassing them with its silly loyalty pledge.

Elected officials should be accountable to voters, not to some star chamber that sits in judgement of the worthiness of candidates. I remember the day when the Republican Party was a big tent, welcoming of people with divergent views and political philosophies. There were conservative Republicans and moderate Republicans. Maybe even a few liberal Republicans.

Today, the right wing has taken over much of the party apparatus and purity tests are administered to weed out anyone who might not be as orthodox as party insiders demand.

Here’s a novel thought: How about letting voters decide who they want to represent them?

Pres. Obama’s Impact on the Democratic Party. Has Barack Obama been good for the Democratic Party? Here is his legacy: Since his election in 2008, Democrats have lost 69 U.S. House seats, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 910 legislative seats, 30 legislative chambers, and 11 governorships. Obama has been very good for Republicans.

Still, it’s hard to have a Republican revolution, to enact conservative policies across the board, without controlling the presidency. Despite increasing Republican strength, Obama has been able to thwart most of the conservative reforms promoted by the GOP majorities in the House and Senate.

That’s what makes the current election so important, and that’s why it is so enormously frustrating to see the Republican Party so fractured and perhaps setting itself up for a big loss. It’s hard to see how the party is going to unify and rally around a presidential candidate. Democrats could make up some of the ground they’ve lost.

SB54/Count My Vote on Will Make a Difference in Coming Years. With court cases going against the Republican Party, it’s likely that candidates will continue to be able to gather signatures to get on the primary election ballot. Over time, that will have a significant impact on Utah politics, as candidates will need to pay more attention to all party voters, not just delegates.

I enjoyed going to my caucus meeting last month and mingling with friends and neighbors to discuss politics. But not everyone liked the long lines, disorganization and rules they couldn’t understand.

One neighbor of mine who had never been to a caucus asked me why we were electing delegates. I told her the delegates would attend county and state conventions, vote on candidates, and in some cases determine who is the party nominee or who gets to be on the primary election.

She looked at me somewhat confused and asked a very simple but poignant question: “Why can’t I just vote for the candidates myself?”

Why not indeed?

She followed up, asking if the delegates were bound to vote for candidates supported by a majority of the people at the caucus. I told her we could ask the delegates to vote for our preference, even demand a pledge, but convention voting is by secret ballot and there’s not guarantee they would vote as we request.

Her response was, “Why do we have to elect someone to represent us in voting for candidates, and we don’t even know how they’ll vote? I just want to vote for the candidates myself.”

Well, from now on, under SB54, if candidates can get organized enough to gather sufficient signatures to ensure a spot on the primary ballot, ALL voters will have the opportunity to vote for their preferred candidates – not just delegates.