A Rebuttal to Gov. Olene Walker on Utah’s Caucus

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Another one bites the dust, as they say. Now former Governor Olene Walker has just abandoned We the People in favor of big money, the rich and famous. Her editorial in the St. George Spectrum is filled with propaganda obviously fed to her by the DC lobbyists who have run these kinds of deceptive campaigns from their K Street addresses state by state to change elections to their favor. The editorial was a brilliant twist of truth obviously coached by shrewd attorneys who know how to twist arms in DC as well.

Mrs. Walker expressed concern about all the money spent on so few. I’m concerned about all the money, too. Too much money behind CMV – nearly a half million – mostly funded by Salt Lake business in collaboration with DC “business” (lobbyists and their cronies).

The former governor has just lent her support to Caplin and Drysdale, the attorney-lobbyist firm that created the Stephen Colbert SuperPAC that mocked Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, in the 2012 election. These are the same DC lobbyists that have represented the Democratic National Committee and that created McCain-Feingold, the infamous campaign finance legislation that favors rich people such as Mr. McCain who can self-fund while the rest of us are limited to $2,500.

She is working with the lobbyist firm that instigated this very campaign against our caucus and We the People, headed up by Matt Sanderson and locally Kirk Jowers of the Hinckley Institute. I’m disappointed in former Governor Walker that she was given these deceptive talking points and for whatever reason she has decided to take a public stand.

However, I do understand that she, Senator Bennett, and Fred Lampropoulos all share one thing in common: they each spent a lot of money and lost – in a caucus-convention system. They never made it to a Primary run-off. They were counting on a Primary election because their name ID would have carried the day. Oh, and they had the money to win it, which is what it takes to win in a Primary. You must be able to buy up big media and only allow the public to see you in 30 second TV and radio ad sound bites. This is how we got our current President, don’t forget. And some of the less inspiring Republican presidential candidates as well.

But this sort of vengeance is no justification to change a system that allows everyone who wishes to be involved to voice their opinions to candidates face-to-face, to thoroughly vet them, and to be represented at the very closest level of government we have – in our own neighborhoods.

This is my rebuttal to Governor Walker’s op ed:

She wrote: “I believe every Utahn deserves a voice in electing public officials.”

Mrs. Walker, the United States was established as a republic with a republican form of government. In fact, the framers wrote into Article IV, Section 4 these exact words, “The United States shall guarantee to every state a Republican form of government…”

What that means is that we elect by representation, not by direct democracy – one-person, one-vote. Before the 12th Amendment, only the House of Representatives was elected by this kind of popular vote. The Executive was elected by state electors representing the total number in the federal delegation. The Judicial was appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate. The Senate was elected by the state legislatures.

This was the genius of the Constitution’s vertical checks and balances in the election process that would protect this nation from being overrun by the masses who would vote themselves largess from the treasury, as has happened today.

After the 12th Amendment, this nation began its journey away from republican governance to democratic election policies with the president elected by popular vote, and a version of the electoral college giving smaller states more strength.

However, the Founders despised democracy and had studied its volatile history and short life expectancy and “violent” death. Apparently Mrs. Walker and I would wager the vast majority of U.S. citizens missed that lecture in U.S. History in school, because she and all those that support open Primary elections are advocating democracy, not republican representation in voting procedures.

After the 17th Amendment, the Senate joined the Executive branch and the House with yet another popular vote – more democracy and less republican governance. A neighborhood caucus was once as apple pie and ice cream as the Star Spangled Banner at a baseball game.

Today, DC lobbyists have successfully run similar “count my vote” campaigns state by state to destroy this grassroots system. Why? Because lobbyists love incumbents. We have a 90%+ incumbent rate because most states elect by Primary elections. Name recognition will win nearly every time. Along with the war chests they have built up through the DC lobbyist culture. Those lobbyists love career politicians because they can buy them and control them with their media money.

So when Mrs. Walker says she thinks the caucus is too restrictive, she simply does not understand the basics of Constitutional governance, at least as the founders saw it.

With a caucus night, everyone in the neighborhood has a voice and they can let their neighbors know, as well as those running to be delegates. Anyone can attend. And if they can’t, they certainly can let their voice be heard before that meeting by calling their neighbor who will be attending, or letting their spouse know what they want expressed.

I was a busy mom for many years. Never once did I miss an election day – before there was early voting. Never once did I miss a caucus night. I knew the dates well enough in advance that I could get a babysitter. These complaints are empty and are merely grousing and whining because they represent the sore losers of past caucus conventions.

About missionaries and the military. Those missionaries and military, if they cared enough, could likewise let their parents and family know who they support for delegate and that could be communicated at the caucus meeting. Once the delegates are elected, missionaries and military have ample time to write them and let them know how they would like them to vote.

But this is somewhat a ridiculous discussion because if you have ever served a mission, you know you really are not focused on who is going to get elected to be your delegate on caucus night. I’d like to hear from a missionary or someone in the military that felt so disenfranchised that they wanted to take the matter to Court because their constitutional rights had been violated. Really.

Mrs. Walker is concerned about so much money spent on so few, citing over $6 million spent to win over 2,400+ delegates to win.

To put her analogy into perspective, what she is supporting is the culture of 30,000 lobbyists in DC that raise and spend billions each year to win the votes of 218-435 in the House and 51-100 in the Senate. Lobbying firms are typically attorneys who specialize in “government relations.” Patton Boggs, Akin Gump and Holland & Knight are some that have substantial government relations divisions. Holland & Knight was paid over $13 million in 2011.

Lobbying has become a $30 billion/year industry. Let’s do that math. To influence 269 people, it took over $30 billion. That’s $112 million per vote! What a Primary election will yield is more lobbyists and more loss of local control over those we elect. Comparing the amount of money spent on the convention delegates versus the amount spent on each member of Congress for votes, the Utah caucus system is by far more cost effective.

Mrs. Walker is concerned that those who support a caucus system are condescending to voters labeling them “uninformed.” This is a devious manipulation of the facts being used by these shrewd media moguls backing this CMV campaign.

I’d like to think that all voters are well-informed, and what politician would want to label any voter “uninformed.” No, they want us all to feel as though we are the brightest people on earth, but here’s my reality, and my mother’s before me (she taught me just about everything I know about being a good citizen):

Invariably on Election day, or just before, I will get a slew of phone calls from friends who are bright people, but just have not had time to study out the candidates, and they are calling me for my advice. No one is saying they are stupid. It’s just a fact of life that some citizens will not have paid attention to who’s who until the last minute Election day.

Is that a good way to cast a vote? No, of course not, but it happens in every election. People sometimes cast votes for candidates about which they have no clue. That is not a demeaning or condescending statement. It’s merely a fact.

If not, disprove me.

On the other hand, the neighborhood election system encourages delegates to meet each of the candidates, to give them opportunities to sit with them one on one and ask questions and to really get to know them. No other system affords this kind of vetting and communication. Candidates give delegates their cell phone numbers. Can you imagine a candidate in a Primary election state doing such a thing? It just does not happen. It is very difficult to get close to a candidate in a Primary election system.

What we want to encourage is more citizen participation and involvement. That’s what a neighborhood election system does. In fact, we get more turn out at caucuses and conventions than we do in some municipal elections.

And that makes my next point: Mrs. Walker claims that Utah used to be in the top ranks of voter participation, but now we’re in “the bottom 10.” This is fallacious. When compared to other states most like Utah, we are in the upper middle ranks. Many factors contribute to voter turnout, among them whether the state is predominantly one party or the other, which Utah is.

How unfortunate that the CMV campaign has deceived her – and is attempting to deceive you – to compare apples to oranges. Furthermore, if they are so concerned about low voter turnout, they need to take a look at the decade in which Utah turned to a Primary election system in which it was the lowest turnout ever.

Then Mrs. Walker’s argument about the rural voters is once again ridiculously uninformed when it comes to the constitutional construction of this nation as the founders and framers saw it. Her comments show us that she prefers democracy over republican governance, but a Republican form of government, according to the US Constitution, is guaranteed to every state.

If this ballot petition prevails, and if this neighborhood election system is overturned, I hope that citizens will rise up and take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to ask the question “What does the Constitution say about guaranteeing to every state a Republican form of government?”

Let’s look at the real numbers for representation. For 390,000 rural voters there is one representative for every 355 voters. That is an amazing proportion for representation. In fact, the U.S. Constitution stipulates in Article I, Section 2 that there shall be one representative for no more than 30,000 people. Which is better representation today – being one of 355, one of 30,000 or one of 390,000?

I am grateful that I have a representative I elect from my neighborhood that gives me a voice from the grassroots up in the election process. As a delegate I represent 355 people in my neighborhood. That’s an extraordinary ratio for representation!

What Mrs. Walker was not coached to say, and for good reason, is that if we remove those representatives, all the attention will go to where the most people are and the most money is consolidated, and that is along the Wasatch Front. This would be a terrible move for the rural counties.

Yes, Mrs. Walker and the CMV proponents are correct: Utah is the only state left. And I’m proud of it. It is a terrible distortion to imply that Utah is a loner in a negative way. And she is being told we should go along with the crowd. I trained my children in another way of thinking. I taught them to stand for what is right even if they stood alone.

Finally, What other state has Mrs. Walker ever lived in for any length of time? Perhaps she has and she prefers California, Colorado, Connecticut or New Mexico. She does have the option to move there to experience the kind of elections she desires.

Mrs. Walker, I was born and raised in California. Aside from Utah I have lived in Illinois, Connecticut, Texas and Colorado. I would not trade Utah’s system for any of those states. I contacted the Connecticut Republican Party to get details on their current election system since that’s the one that the DC lobbyists identified as the system Utah should adopt. I told her about how Utah’s system works. She said, “We would love to have that system here. Only candidates that have the money can run, and even those that petition on are the wealthiest, and we end up with a plurality vote in our primaries, and that creates animosity within the parties that carries over to the general election.”

Mrs. Walker, it is the CMV initiative that is restrictive. It will restrict us to the rich, the famous and the incumbent. Perhaps you would have had the money to get elected, but most of the members of our state legislature would not. Is that what you want? Elected officials who represent the elite and the good ol’ boys system?

This challenge to the grassroots neighborhood election is not about “counting” votes. It’s about “buying” votes and keeping media moguls and lobbyists and consultants in business.

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