Once again, many Utahns will gather in school classrooms, recreation center rooms, and even living rooms to participate in their respective political party caucus meetings. They will meet with others who share their partisan affiliation, elect delegates to a convention, and then go home and hope that their will is expressed by whomever they elect. It is a symbol of participation, but also the first step in party nomination processes.
Utah’s caucus meetings are not unique, but neither are they common across the nation. Only a dozen or so states still use caucuses. And had Count My Vote been enacted several years ago, caucuses would have been a memory by now because primary elections would have replaced them in the nomination process.
The reality is the vast majority of Utahns do not go to these party caucuses, despite encouragement from the political parties, community leaders, and even the First Presidency of the LDS Church. Some avoid caucuses because they are just not interested in discussing politics. They would rather just vote in a general election, or maybe a primary election.
Others, however, don’t go because they don’t feel comfortable in either the Republican or Democratic party caucus meetings. I can understand their feelings. I have been to both major party caucuses at various times. The extremist sentiments expressed by people there can be disturbing. Many people also don’t like having to join the party to participate in the caucus, as Republicans require them to do.
Still another reason is the hypocrisy of a person claiming they will represent their area at a convention, but then having no accountability to even the partisans in that area. The reality is that a delegate from a caucus can vote in the convention however he or she feels. They would not even know how a majority of their fellow partisans would vote, nor is it likely they really care.
For those who want to go but don’t like what they see in the existing caucuses, now there is an alternative. It is the caucus of the United Utah Party. Our caucuses are different from the Republicans or Democrats. Here’s how:
Anyone can attend our caucuses. They are open to all voters of any party affiliation. The Republicans require you to be a Republican to participate. We don’t.
The people in our party are not extremists. We are a practical, more moderate party that does not appeal to the ideologues. If a person views public education as evil (or at least a bad investment) or, on the other side, supports socialism, then they have their own existing parties to join. Uniters, as we call ourselves, seek to find common ground among those who are more moderate Democrats, Republicans and independents.
We don’t elect delegates to the state convention. Every person who is registered with the party is an automatic convention delegate. There is no “middle man” claiming to represent you. You represent yourself. So, how do you attend a state convention that is far away? Our party is setting up satellite locations across the state where party members can attend the convention through video technology and speak up and vote just as if they were present physically.
Our caucuses are for people who want to attend a caucus, but don’t like the extremism they experience at the major party caucuses. If you fit in that category and want to attend one of our caucuses, come to the Desert Hills High School, 828 Desert Hills Drive, St. George, on Tuesday, March 20, at 7 pm. Come to our caucus and you may finally feel at home in a caucus meeting.
Richard Davis is chair of the United Utah Party
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