The Irony of the “Buy My Vote” Initiative

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While Utah political operatives, consultants and their DC lobbyists want Utah to be Connecticut or California in their election policies, both Connecticut and California have expressed a longing for being Utah.

What irony.

Because a ballot initiative called “Count My Vote” is underway, I’ve done a lot of research and we all agree that it’s more “Buy My Vote” so that’s what we call it.

I recently had two lengthy conversations with active members and leaders in those respective Republican parties of Connecticut and California, and here’s what you need to know.

Why Connecticut Would Like to Be More Like Utah

First, I’m somewhat of an authority on Connecticut, because I lived there and was active in the party. In fact, I was very fond of Ann Coulter’s parents. We hailed from the same town – New Canaan. So listen up, Utah:

Lost Republican Elections

Connecticut would like to abandon its dual track election system and believes that system has a lot to do with why Republicans have lost to Democrats every Congressional and Senate seat, the governor’s office, and the majorities in both houses of its state legislature.

Loss of Party/Platform Influence

Listen up Utah: They explained that their convention has been reduced to nothing more than a mere candidate endorsement for the candidate that got the highest votes over the 15% required. In fact, “The convention process is null and void because it’s so easy to get through.”

For that achievement, the candidate who gets the most votes over 15% gets an asterisk on the ballot. And any others who also got 15% or more automatically get on the ballot, not to mention others that by-passed the convention and successfully petitioned on.

By not having been given the opportunity to carefully vet the petition candidates, those that care most about the principles the Republican Party stands for – the elected delegates – lose their voice entirely.

Multi-millionaire Candidate Protection
They moaned that only multi-millionaires can afford to petition onto the ballot at 5% of the registered voters. “These rich and famous hire costly firms and it is very time consuming and a huge undertaking” that zaps the energy of the most passionate of supporters.

The Party has become beholden to media sound bites, consultants who make their money buying the media for primaries, and the lobbyists who can more easily buy their votes. It is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent.

Increased Taxes

They warned about how enormously costly it is for the taxpayers to fund their elections because county clerks must employ extra staff and are required to extend hours to verify and certify every single signature on petitions for multiple races. It’s ripe for fraud and abuse.

Goodbye, Majority Rule: Hello, Plurality
They confirmed that candidates are typically elected by a plurality vote – not by majority vote. Their system produces several candidates that qualify to be on the ballot when they garner 15% or more of the delegates nominating.

Loss of Grassroots Voice and Representation

They expressed serious envy that Utah actually has grassroots neighborhood meetings at which we elect direct representation – delegates – to the convention.

In Connecticut, there are no county parties. There are no precinct “parties” (e.g. caucuses). The closest to the people the party and candidates ever get is at the town (city) level. So Stamford Connecticut, a “town” of approximately 123,000 has ONE town chair and a Republican Town Committee, with approximately 20-30 members.

How are these “delegates” elected? By the Town Committee. Not the people, not the neighborhood.

These committee members (equivalent to Utah’s delegates) go to the state convention, and if they cannot, an elected alternate goes in their place.

Infighting and Party Damage

Other complaints were that the threshold is way too low and their Primary is too late – in August – with all the Republican candidates bloodying each other up and send votes over to the Democrats.

[Does this ring a bell, Utah? The decade of the 70% and September primary that gave us TWO democrats out of the three Congressional seats – Matheson and Orton.]

They were surprised to note the differences between Connecticut and Utah. In fact, after our conversation, they’d like to be more like Utah.

California, Here We Come?

Let’s next examine California, the other state the “Buy My Vote” campaign loves. They will be polling you soon on both of these alternatives. Beware, the very people that are raising the money to poll you are the very same people that stand to make beaucoup bucks off either the California or Connecticut primary election systems they would like you to embrace.

I find that to be unethical, at the very least. But that’s the nature of a political consultant’s business.

What an Open Primary Means

In California, the convention is as emasculated as Connecticut’s. It’s open game – literally. With the open Primary, anyone can vote for candidates representing either party. The top two winners go to the general election. So you can have two Democrats or two Republicans running in the general election.

In-Party Divisiveness and Bloody General Elections

Either way, it stinks, they say. “It has been very damaging to the Republican party, because the races get nasty and with Republicans fighting against Republicans, it is divisive. Both parties are damaged by this party infighting.  It’s nearly impossible for the party members to unite around the winner after Election Day. Virtually everyone I know in California says, “Do not adopt California’s election system!”

Rich and Famous Sound Bite Candidates

And again, everything that applies to Connecticut also applies to California in terms of rich and famous and electing by media sound bites. It’s big business and that’s why in California you see Senate races that cost $10s of millions of dollars. Lobbyists love it.

Loss of Two-Party Competition
Consider this, if a state has a majority of Democrats, such as California, how does a Republican get into the second place position to get on the ballot against the Democrat? It’s nearly impossible. Even with the millionaire candidates that have attempted to defeat Boxer and Feinstein, it has been difficult to recruit a good candidate rich enough to throw it away – let alone a conservative one.

For Utah, this may sound good: It could be a Democratic Protection System, at least for federal offices. But in the state legislature, it would favor a democratic top-two in democratic leaning cities such as the downtown and Rose Park areas of Salt Lake and a republican top-two in highly republican areas. So the real dynamic of allow opposing platforms to freely compete in the general election is removed and more controlled by the ruling party.

As a Republican I want the fairest shot I can get if I’m going to run in Left-leaning Holladay (which I’m not planning to do, but it’s a perfect example). Likewise, in Orem, Utah a Democratic candidate would want a fairer shot in a highly Republican district as well.

We know how ugly primary run-offs can be putting up two candidates from the same party to vie for the nomination. Turning the entire general election process to this game-on until Election Day is just a very bad idea drummed up by a ruthlessly win-at-all-costs mentality in a money hungry media and the consultants that feed them.

Why Every State Needs Utah’s Caucus

I’ve been promoting Utah’s caucus system everywhere I’ve spoken – to many national leaders in Washington DC and through my national outreach. When they see what it is and what it represents, they are envious. I’ve heard it said more than once, “Do not ever lose that system or you’ll never get it back. It happened to us long ago.”

Indeed, Utah does have the last remaining republican form of election. The Founders would be pleased with us, but if they could see the rest of the nation, from their writings I’ve studied, I can safely say they would be grief-stricken.

So take heed, Utah. Turn off Doug Wright’s radio show. He’s not only not on our side – nor a principled Republican – he’s just not that bright, and he represents a media outlet that cares little about a constitutional representative republic but more about the money.

He is willing to short-change integrity and misrepresent who’s who in this fight. He calls us the elitists, but he knows darn well that’s not true. In fact, his media outlet is the elitist and through his voice is wooing the rich and famous that have the bucks to buy the expensive ads to keep his radio show alive.

Turn on Rod Arquette’s radio show on FM 105.7 KNRS from 4-7 pm daily. He speaks the truth, even if Clear Channel may not make as much from all those primary ads it will miss out on. It’s the honorable thing to do, and I applaud that station for being so principled.

Take a moment to read former Representative Fred Cox’s guest editorial in the Deseret News. He nails it. He emphasizes how important it is for the state legislature to meet and discuss the issues in hearings, in their caucuses, and on the floor. That is what the neighborhood caucus meeting does.

Spread this clever whiteboard cartoon video below far and wide. It’s produced by the Iron County Republican Party, chairman Blake Cozzens.

Copy the link to this video below and send it out to your neighbors and friends, in state and out of state. Let them know what a true representative republic should look like, one that allows you and me to come together with our neighbors and elect our very own representative. No other system does that as Utah does.

Finally, let people know the poll they will get asking which system they prefer is funded by the very people that will skew that poll to tell us that the current system needs to be trashed for one or the other.

Don’t throw out the best system this nation has. I’ve lived in both Connecticut and California. What irony that Utah wants to be California or Connecticut and they want to be Utah.

I’m with them. I want to be Utah and, thankfully because there are enough good and informed voters in Utah that get it, I am.

Oh, and one more thing: If you want to help, contact me and please consider a generous donation of $25, $50 or $100 or more to American Leadership Fund – designate “Fair Vote Utah”.

We’re up against at least a $1 million ballot initiative funded by special interests, the establishment and DC lobbyists. We’re going to need all the help we can get from you – the grassroots. We’re up against the big boys.


PS.  This article appeared in a recent edition of Roll Call.  I encourage you to read it.  It describes the California system precisely as I explained it above.  So when you get that survey asking if you prefer Connecticut or California or any aspect of their election process, you know the answer:  No.