Another Defining Moment

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Orrin HatchMy blog site is dedicated to defining conservative. Senator Orrin Hatch, via the Deseret News, has just given me another defining moment.

In the article “Utah GOP May End Up Being Dominated By Radicals,” Utah’s senior senator is setting the stage for moving our election process from a caucus-convention to an open primary, playing on the fears of voters that the current system is controlled from within by “radicals” and “extremists.”

Jeremy Roberts, a really radically, raucous and rude Republican Facebook communicator , has just announced the launch of his ballot initiative to allow anyone to get their name on a Primary ballot by petition without going through the caucus-convention.

Robert BennettHad that been the case in 2010, Bob Bennett would still be our senator.  Perhaps you preferred that outcome.

I was one of the Senator’s top three opponents in that race.  As a newcomer and the first Republican woman to run for the U.S. Senate in Utah, I had a good showing, but I lost.  Senator Mike Lee won.

Mike LeeYou move on and Mike, who I have known since he was a young boy, is doing an excellent job in D.C in his first term.

But then, so did Senator Hatch. (Read on.)

The concern is not extremism or radicalism. It’s incumbency, and the fact that by being in the Washington D.C. climate for so long, one’s vote can be bought – on both sides of the aisle – quite easily. Corporations know this, and so they routinely fund both sides, hedging their bets.

The real radicals – those within the Party who want to move the platform further to the Left – hide behind conservative labels and obfuscate the truth. Through fear-mongering, they lead voters to believe that they don’t have a voice in the “closed” caucus system.   And God help us all, the GOP is going to become radicalized unless we do something about it.

The truth is that this is really about a dysfunctional, addictive relationship between incumbents and lobbyists.

Lobbyists love incumbents.  In the lobbyists’ eyes they are the sure votes, and if they are in D.C. long enough, they can be owned. Order Jack Abramoff’s Jack AbramoffCapitol Punishment on my blog site to get his grizzly account of his personal experience doing it “better” than any, and landing in jail for it.  Now out of jail, he’s on a redemption mission, a talk show host and hoping to fix D.C. with some of the recommendations in his book.  A MUST read.

The other truth is, in a caucus system, anyone can participate. Senator Hatch proved that by spending $7 million to hand-pick his delegates, primarily funded from interests outside of Utah. Together with the Party, the strategy was what Glenn Beck might call “the Cloward and Pivens approach” to overwhelm the system.

And the Hatch campaign did precisely that.  Citizens came out in droves to the caucuses.  With these record numbers, the Party was not prepared and it was chaos for many.

Insiders in Senator Hatch’s campaign explained that he was strategically bringing in more moderate/liberal delegates. In order to do that, he had to drill down to those who knew the least about the issues and about the political process – or about his voting record, a mediocre lifetime conservative record of 76 out of 100. When I went to school, that was a C – a middle-of-the-road grade. Hardly anything that would get me into a decent college.

The result was that very few conservatives who actually support the GOP platform – and had voting records to prove it – made it through that convention. It was exactly what Senator Hatch and his cronies in DC had ordered – a middle-of-the-road/moderate set of delegates to at least get him into a primary where they knew he would win.

It was not a Reagan delegation at all. It was a more a “McCain” delegation. Or a “Kemp” or “Dole” or “Ford” delegation. But definitely not a “Reagan” delegation. I’m old enough to remember those Reagan years and the restoration of conservatism.

What’s odd is that, according to a history of the ERA opposition in Utah during the volatile years of 1975-1980, Pedestals and Podiums (Martha Bradley), Senator Hatch was a young far right conservative running for U.S. Senate and in his first term. I was the spouse of a BYU law student during those years.

Bradley’s account shows that Senator Hatch was a key player opposing the Equal Rights Amendment and every proposal that came out of that U.N International Womens Year conference – including opposing proposals on rape protection for woman, maternity leave, credit for women, equal pay for equal work, and social security for homemakers.

Without further investigation, some today would call opposition to those recommendations fairly “far right wing extremist.” It was simply that the entire package was top-down, federally-driven, and outside the bounds of the limitations on the federal government’s role.

He’s come a long way, baby. A long, long way, co-sponsoring with Ted Kennedy more women’s and health legislation at the federal level than any of his Republican colleagues.

So, I would ask those who are pointing their fingers at “radicalism” or “extremism” to please define “radical” and “extreme” and “far right wing.” As well as “liberal,” “leftist,”  “libertarian” and every other “ism.”

Ronald ReaganPerhaps we should remind him that “radical” and “far right extremist” were the exact terms Republican operatives used against Ronald Reagan, who my parents helped get started in politics in California.  Of course Reagan wasn’t perfect and was not a dictator, and so at times limited to what he could do as President with a Democratic-controlled Congress.

But never forget, one of Reagan’s platform planks was to “dismantle the Department of Education.” Shocking, isn’t it?

Another was to “defund the U.N.” Imagine that!

(At least he was able to withdraw from UNESCO in 1984 calling it “un-American.” Thanks to George Bush II, we’re back into that Leftist organization pushing for national global standards and curriculum in education that Romney opposed.)

Reagan believed “government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” No! Really?

And he opposed Medicare, calling it “socialized medicine.” Horrors!

It was his landmark address to the California Medical Association that my parents helped arrange that catapulted him into the political limelight in California.

Perhaps that’s all far right wing, extremist, radical and Senator Hatch would have agreed with the labels slung at Reagan way back then.

Senator Hatch’s opponent was Dan Liljenquist, ranked one of the more moderate members of our state legislature. Hardly an extremist. In fact, sporting a record more closely aligned with Hatch’s record.

How ironic that the somewhat libertarian group “FreedomWorks” that backed Lilhenquist attracts support from both the Right and the Left. So does the libertarian Cato Institute.

However, it was Reagan who once said that the “heart and soul of conservatism is libertarian.”  Less government. Limited government.  Constitutional government.

Jon Huntsman called himself a “conservative” when he ran for governor. Yet he championed some of the most liberal to libertarian causes while in office, such as supporting the gay-straight alliance clubs on high school campuses to further normalization of alternative sexual lifestyles, extremist global warming-green initiatives, and the Obamacare insurance exchange created to facilitate socialized medicine and expand Medicaid. Huntsman was an Obama appointment to China, and apparently he’s seen the light: He now claims he’s a democrat.  Perhaps he’s just in a confused identity crisis?

Back to Senator Hatch.  In order to defend his deplorable singular vote for the “fiscal cliff” bill, the self-imposed lame duck quacked insults at every one of his colleagues in the Utah Congressional Delegation – which includes moderate Democrat Jim Matheson, suggesting they voted against the bill because they were afraid of these radical, extremist voters.

Actually, they have stated themselves why they opposed the bill: primarily because it had so much pork in it, and it did not address cutting the entitlements – the real pig in the room.

And it was a lie.  It did not just raise taxes on the top 2%.  It raised taxes on 77% of Americans.

The truth is, Senator Hatch ranks in the top 1 percent of Senators who vote for the most pork.  He loves those earmarks. His one area of expertise is knowing how to bring home that bacon. After 36 years, he certainly has the connections and he has also learned how not to slap the hand that has fed him.

And that’s why he was the lone Utah vote in favor of the “fiscal cliff” bill.

So before moderate Republicans (has anyone heard the label Liberal Republican recently?) go around putting labels on conservative Republicans (what was that Reagan commandment you always quote, “Thou shalt not speak ill of….?”) be more clear on precisely what is meant.

Define Republican. Define conservative. Define radical. Define extremist.

You see, I support the GOP platform. I’m conservative.

Unlike Senator Hatch, I didn’t support the “fiscal cliff” bill, nor do I support John Boehner’s or Mitch McConnell’s old guard “go along to get along” tactics, as he does.

Neither does Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and most of the Fox New commentators and conservative organizations that were Reagan supporters from the beginning. Not to mention the libertarian groups.

So Senator Hatch, I have a simple message:  You were always friendly and kind and supportive to me along the campaign trail.  You are a very likable man. However, I’m getting edgy about all this labeling and re-branding. Are you trying to tell me that any of us who opposed the incumbents of 2010 – or of 2012 – are all radicals or extremists?

If that’s so, then instead of throwing labels out there to confuse less informed voters, speak up and define what exactly you mean.

Because according to a Pew Research study, the majority of Americans and Utahns did not support that fiscal cliff measure, nor the Speaker’s tactics either. It seems to me, that puts me right smack in the middle. The mainstream.

And it also means that you, sir, just might be the radical and out of touch with most Americans.

OK. I’m done with my rant now. For today, that is. If you’d like to receive more posts on Defining Conservative, or leave your comments on how you define conservative, sign up at http://www.CherilynEagar.com

Sound off on this particular topic and others by taking the polls on the right.

 


  1. Two words: term limits. Hatch WAS a conservative, but 30-plus years in DC will change anybody. Go home, Orrin, and enjoy the rest of your life in the REAL world. It will benefit everyone, including you.

  2. Great article, Cherilyn.

  3. Cherilyn - January 10, 2013

    I have just commented on the Utah Policy poll, but I’m not an insider” so I’m not sure my comments will be published or counted.  I thought you should have my comments:

    1. Do you think we need an alternative route for candidates to get on the primary ballot instead of the current caucus and convention system in order to encourage more participation in Utah’s political process?

    The current system allows anyone who wants to be involved to get involved at the neighborhood level where “democracy” works best.  This nation was organized as a constitutional representative republic, not a democracy. The founders despised democracy because it has a history prone to emotion and volatile endings when the majority abandons moral principles.  

    In those caucuses, neighbors elect representatives to get informed and cast a vote for them at a convention.  Problems exist within the current system, and no system is perfect.  However the current problems can be resolved without abandoning the representative republic process to go to an open primary democratic process.  

    This proposed change would render a convention merely a party endorsement of one of the candidates and would throw the election to a broader group of people who are less informed and only have time to listen to media sound bites.  It would make elections much more expensive, and would favor wealthy candidates and incumbents.

    I’ve lived in Connecticut, a very blue state which uses the system Jeremy Roberts is recommending.    It was the death to the Republican Party.  It would be the opposite in Utah, a very red state.  I would think the Democratic Party would be very concerned.   

    The Connecticut system also creates havoc on the ballot during a primary, with many names on the ballot.  Often, people are elected with no majority.  Not a good idea.  In California, often two Democrats emerge to be placed on the general election ballot.  

    Framing this debate by suggesting that the caucus system will turn the Republican Party into a party of radicals, as Senator Hatch did, doesn’t help.  He proved that an incumbent can get through the caucus by working hard, as they should.  He was elected by interests outside of the state.  Only approximately 10% of his funding came from Utah.  

    The advantage to Utah’s caucus is that we can more easily unseat incumbents.  That’s a good thing, but lobbyists hate it.  And incumbents such as Bob Bennett and Senator Hatch hate it as well.  Read my blog post at on this topic at http://cherilyneagar.com/?p=997

    2. Do you think the process for getting on the ballot in Utah will be changed with in the next two years?

    No. But there will be a good fight.  The fact that a referendum/initiative would be placed on a ballot where the masses decide will obviously favor it getting on the ballot.  But if the initiative passes, it will prove my point about the less informed being allowed to decide an election.  

    Most ballot initiatives and referenda undermine the concept of a constitutional republic, over-riding the representative nature of the form of government that was intended.  We have elected representatives in a state legislature.  Why do we need them, if we can simply cast our vote in a booth on every issue?  

    They prove my point about what the founders despised of democracy – typically ruled by emotion and not reason.  

    The problem is that most people do not have time to do all the research necessary to understand every issue.  Hence, appointing a representative they trust is a wiser alternative.  That is the best advantage of a caucus system.  Typically, the more a person studies a topic, the more passionate they become, one way or the other.  But they are informed voters, and that is the kind of person we want voting when making important decisions for our nation, state and community.  

    Depending on the uninformed masses to make our decisions for us is a dangerous idea.    

    These democratic initiative and referendum strategies on a statewide level should only be used sparingly and limited to amending a state constitution, for example.  

  4. Adam Ruplinger - January 10, 2013

    I define Conservative as anyone who follows the Constitution to the letter.  I believe Hatch thinks that anyone who supports the Constitution to the letter is a radical. Hatch and Romney defined Conservativism is why I have washed my hands of the Conservative movement, and I now consider myself a Constitutionalist. If believing in following the Constitution as our founders first intended it makes me a radical, then so be it!  

    Cherilyn, if you are considering another run for office in the future,  I would really like to see more of your understanding of the principles contained in the Constitution, such as to know if you know about, and support the most fair tax system ever devised which is already there within the Constitution, etc.  If I knew that you really, really supported the Constitution, not just paid lip service to it, as so many other so called Conservatives do, I would knock myself out big time in your support, if indeed you did run for public office again in the future.  

    There is a small group of folks who believe in the Constitution who get together on Snow College campus in Richfield every Wednesday and Thursday nights to discuss and study the Constitution, section by section.  Would enjoy having you attend with us some time.  Let me know if you would like more information of the time and classroom location.

    • Cherilyn - January 10, 2013

      Adam, I hope you will comment here when you can. I hope to intelligently make the case for the Constitution and to show that “conservative” means supporting the Constitution in its original intent. I have been a student of originalism since high school, when I first began to become involved in the political debate.

      However, I don’t plan to run for political office again. My two campaigns were incredible journeys, but very consuming. I’m better doing what I’ve always done – being an advocate for the issues about which I’m passionate.

      See my other comment to John.

      Thanks for joining in the discussion.

  5. Rod Hjelm - January 10, 2013

    If this change were to take place it would do the same thing within Utah that the 17th Amendment did to the States.
    The 17th Amendment changed the way Senators were selected from being nominated by their State to being voted for by the populous. States have nearly lost their representation and checks and balances incorporated into the Constitution had been severely weakened by it. Senators are now much less accountable to the State and more power is vested in Washington DC because of it. A senatorial election has less to do with issues than it does carpetbagger gamesmanship and popularity contests

    A neighborhood caucus can be attended and participated in by virtually anyone and it is our own neighbors around us that influences what happens in local and State elections. This offers more power vested in the people rather than on capital hill. When in the hell are people going to wake up and realize they are being conned again and again and that their rights are being trampled on. Don’t buy into the hyperbole or take sides in national and state issues. Think for yourself and come up with an intelligent conclusion on your own and you will remain more free.

  6. Marcy Underdahl - January 10, 2013

    WONDERFUL article and exactly how Ed and I feel. Keep up your great work!!

  7. Cheryl,

    You are starting to sound like someone that is still bitter over losing a campaign.  If you intend to run again I think you owe it to readers to be up front with this and if not declare that you are not going to run.

    • Cherilyn - January 10, 2013

      John, I’m happy to respond.

      I don’t plan to run for office again. I’ve returned to my activism, which is where I have been for most of my adult life, and that’s where I prefer to be.

      If I were bitter, as Senator Bennett was (and rightfully so – he was treated horribly at the convention), I would be aligned with him and others who want to dramatically change the system. In fact, Senator Bennett investigated as to whether he could petition to get on the ballot, as is now being recommended, but it was not possible.

      What happened at the convention to the four candidates that were running in the 2nd District has been taken care of appropriately. We collectively filed an FEC complaint and we did it for the same reason that Senator Mike Lee also filed a similar complaint in 2010, interestingly involving some of the same players doing the same thing.

      Apparently Senator Lee was not bitter for doing so, but we are?

      Our concern, as was our party chair’s concern as he has stated to me on more than one occasion, is to make minor changes that will prevent what happened in the 2nd District from happening to other candidates.

      Thanks for sharing your view point. I hope this clarifies your concern. I encourage you to read my article.

      (BTW, my name is spelled Cherilyn, not Cheryl.)

  8. P Jones - January 10, 2013

    Thanks, Cherilyn. I’m with you!

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