Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A'Caucusing We Went

I went to my caucus tonight wearing my "I Like Mike" button.  The Mike Lee campaign never officially contacted me -- I simply acknowledged my support on their website. 

I volunteered to go to the caucus.  I wasn't recruited.  I was never button-holed into a heavy-handed commitment for support, I just followed a suggestion from a good and valued friend, Doug Holmes, to visit Mike's website and learn about his positions. 

I did.  To the Utah voters who read this page, I suggest you do the same.

Here is Mike Lee's website.  Click on the link.  Learn the positions of the man I sincerely hope becomes Utah's next Senator.

I love grassroots politics.  The caucus is the purest and simplest expression of free speech available anywhere in the world.  What a privilege it is to take a position and freely speak your mind.  I have an even greater respect after tonight about what it must mean to these candidates who seek to be elected by their peers. 

I went seeking to become our precinct's state delegate.  We got there early, and Patsy was asked to give the opening prayer, and I was asked to read the Utah Republican Party platform.  Click on the link and read it.  In this particular election year, as never before, those words were written and ratified at the 2009 state convention with almost prophetic insight. 

Each of us was emotional when we spoke.  We sense -- and I think we are not alone -- that there is more than party politics at stake in this election cycle and I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as an indispensible politician.  That is certainly true of Senator Bennett.

The county delegates were duly nominated and elected. 

Then it was time for the state delegate to be nominated.  When I was nominated by my dear wife, I was opposed by one other candidate who waffled and sounded uncommited, but was clearly leaning toward Bennett. 

The participants asked for a speech from each candidate to clarify our positions before the vote was taken.  There were 25 participants in our precinct.  Simple majority -- 13 votes -- needed to win.

Patsy warned me in advance to keep it general, keep my emotions in check, state clearly my loyalties to flag, Constitution, motherhood, apple pie and the little red schoolhouse, our long family history with both Wasatch and Summit Counties and so forth.  She was trying to keep the lid on the teapot from blowing its top.

But I blew it.  I opened my mouth.  The months of the buildup of my anger spilled out against Senator Bennett, who by the way, I have voted for three times in the past.  I was careful to state my respect for him and his family, but then I let loose with my anger over his advocacy of the ill-advised TARP vote that opened the floodgates for the subsequent orgy of bailout bills that followed, capped by the palpable anger one could sense in the room about what happened yesterday in the successful passage of the Obama health care reform bill. 

Bennett may not have had a hand in that House vote yesterday, but clearly he is being held accountable for his big spending habits by the voters in our precinct.

The faithful Republican heads in our meeting were all nodding up and down.  I was enflamed and passionate.  I couldn't help myself once I got going.  And when it was enough, and I sensed I had said perhaps too much, I shut up and sat down. 

However, I left no doubts in anyone's mind in our precinct exactly what they were getting out of their state delegate, if elected.

There was a simple majority of my fellow citizens in our little precinct who felt as I did.  I said simply, "If you agree with me, then vote for me because I have every intention of voting for Mike Lee at the state convention, and you all deserve to know the position of your delegate.  There is absolutely no chance that I will vote for Bob Bennett ever again."  I won. 

I have no idea how the meetings went in the thousands of Utah Republican caucuses tonight.  I cannot see into my crystal ball that forecasts with unerring accuracy what the future portends.  But I will say this -- I hope every other state delegate declared himself/herself as boldly and with as much passion and clarity as I did. 

If they did, then Senator Bennett will be retired at the state convention as a lame duck for the balance of his last term.


  1. "And then I ripped up a copy of the TARP bill, just to hit the point home" (te, he, he....I couldn't resist). Wish we could have seen you in action and voted for you!

  2. We're in Utah county, my mother ran as a state delegate and said basically the same thing. Bennett out,and Mike Lee is her vote. We had 86 people in our precinct there, and their was 12 different candidates for state delegate and she won! Lots of people were asking for her email so they could communicate, before the vote was even counted. She didn't stay neutral like the other candidates did, she had done her homework before hand and told the people exactly what she believed and thought. No more pastels, we are Utah county Republicans with bold colors for our principles.

  3. Can you tell me where I can find an explanation of how Utah nominates/elects/delegates its delegates? I am from Utah but really do not understand how Utah nominates its candidates for the House and Senate. I want to understand though...

  4. Got to your blog by way of ewerickson. Your comments brought back memories of many years ago when you said, "I love grassroots politics. The caucus meeting is the purest and simplest expression of free speech available anywhere in the world."

    I once had the opportunity of running for public office and won. It was in the 1970's in the state of Maine. I was elected as a "selectman" in a small town that used the town meeting form of government. They still do. Once a year in March the fire whistle blows and everyone in town gathers on a Saturday morning and votes on the town business for the following year. Over the years I have suggested to anyone interested in grassroots government to make a special effort to attend one of these meetings.

    Even though I live in West Virginia now, I still try and keep up with local Maine politics.

    God luck in your efforts there in Utah.


  5. Same thing in southern Utah. Very Anti-Bennett, very pro Mike Lee.

    Things are going in the right direction.

  6. HalleluYAH!

    Keep fighting back America! Hold on to your Republic .....

  7. Answer to the question about the candidate selection process earlier:

    In Utah, the two major political parties go to their caucus meetings early in the election cycle, as we did last night. These meetings were formerly referred to as "mass meetings." We do that for the purpose of selecting delegates to represent our various voting precincts at the county conventions and the state convention.

    To participate in a caucus meeting and vote, you must be a registered voter living within the boundaries of the precinct.

    The number of delegates from each precinct is determined by the number of registered voters within the precinct. The precinct chairperson is an automatic delegate to the county convention. In our case the county chairman also lives within our precinct and he is an automatic delegate to both the county and the state convention, so we voted on three additional county delegates and one additional state delegate.

    Once the remaining three delegates were selected selected by a simple majority vote, they represent our precinct and vote at the Wasatch County convention where the slate of county-wide candidates is nominated and put forward for a vote by the delegates in attendance.

    If the winners exceed 60% of the votes cast at the county convention in each county, they escape a primary election. If they fail to achieve a clear winner in the convention with more than 60%, the top two vote getters face off in a primary election to determine who the candidate will be in the general election.

    The same process is similar at the state convention for the statewide slate of candidates. Where multiple candidates are concerned, as is the case this year with the senatorial race, there will be several votes taken to winnow down the list quickly. Out of those multiple votes if a clear winner emerges who captures 60% of the delegate vote, the primary election is avoided.

    The strategy for all the candidates this year is simple -- go to the convention with enough committed delegates to top the minimum 60% threshold and thus avoid the primary. So last night the goal was to get enough delegates to vote for you at the county and/or state conventions to hopefully avoid the primary.

    And that, dear readers, is how the candidates who appear on your ballot in the November final election are chosen. Sadly, if you did not participate last night in a caucus meeting of your choosing, the only votes you have left are in the primary and the general elections coming up later in the year.

    Make a note now, and don't forget -- if you complain about the candidates on the ballot in November, and you missed your caucus meeting last night, then you are left without excuse. Make up your mind now to go next time around.

    The power of the American Constitution is that a "bloodless coup" is possible at the ballot box every two years. Term limits are ALWAYS available to the informed electorate. The Founders probably knew there was no hope that politicians wielding power would ever willingly vote for mandatory limits. So here's what they did -- all 435 seats in U.S. House of Representatives (the "People's House") are open every two years, and one-third of all the 100 U.S. Senate seats are open every two years. The system has a built-in provision for term limits -- no Constitutional amendments needed. The power is STILL and ALWAYS in the hands of the people.

    It's forever the greatest country on the face of the earth today, and each of us has a personal stake in its ongoing success. America is going through a renewal this year, and it will be magnificent to behold!!!

  8. That was great stuff, Mr Goates! I'm feeling much the same way here in Ga. I don't have a RINO or Dem to vote against. My congressman is Tom Price and he is really solid, however, I will now be politically active for the 1st time in my life. I will be volunteering for candidates in Ga and donating as well.

    Never thought I would be doing any of this, but then again I never thought I would be living through times like these.

  9. Does this process work in NY? We have so many RINO's and while I believe it is wonderful that there are republicans of varying colors depending on the sentiments of the locals, many of us there are so fed up! we want conservatvies. And we have a ton of democrats who we have to drag over to the republican side because they are democrats thru tradition but in their hearts and minds they are conservatives, natural republicans. We have been tea partying and have been effective in small ways at the local level at least, but we are plagued with big spending RINOs in even our local govt. Thanks for any help

  10. Candidate selection processes differ from state to state. The key is to become engaged, talk with those in your caucuses who are already familiar with the process. Learn the details, become a student of how it works in your state. Engage the candidates, learn about what they believe.

    Open your mouths if you are discontent. Don't be afraid to stand on your values and your principles.

    Stop being part of the so-called "silent majority." What is called for in this election cycle is political activism at its best -- become a participant. Don't be content to sit on the sidelines with the attitude "What will be will be." You CAN have an impact, you CAN speak up, and you CAN make a difference.

    It starts at the precinct level, and this year it will sweep through the nation like a tsunami, so catch the wave and let's change America this time the way WE THE PEOPLE want it to be, not the way others deceptively snatched it from a sleeping electorate in 2008. Remember, "He's a pragmatic problem solver?" "Change we can believe in?" "Oh, yes we can?"

    America, while the silent majority was asleep at the switch, you got EXACTLY what you voted for in 2008. Barack Obama delivered on what he promised -- "This is what change looks like," he boldly declared last week after passage of the world's largest entitlement program ever launched. If it wasn't REALLY the change you hoped for, remember that it's never too late to overturn a bad decision in America, because just as Ronald Reagan said, "It is ALWAYS morning in America."

    EVERY TWO YEARS the daylight breaks on the horizon to the east and we begin again.

  11. GO Utah! I am from KY, but I read RedState every day, and keep up with what is going on all ove rthe country. Glad to hear that the caucuses last night were successful.

    By the way, I have already sent an email to my Senator...McConnell, and let him know that I am VERY disappointed in his attitude that conservatives are 'irrelivant' in November.

    Keep up the good fight!

  12. I live in New York and while our Senate primary is not nearly as intense as your state, it still feels good to know that there are other Republicans who care about what's going on with their state party.

  13. personally, I despise the caucus system because it puts too much power in the hands of too few people. 3600 delegates get to choose a Republican candidate who has virtually no chance of losing the general election. If 90% show up that gives you 3240 and all you need is 1944 to win the nomination. 1944 people in Utah get to pick a US Senator? That seems anti-american to me. The house races are even more stark, especially in the first and third districts where you have an average convention attendance of about 1100 - all you need are 660 people to vote for you and you are elected to Congress. Anyone who did not attend the caucus or who did attend the caucus but were bullied into keeping quiet really don't have much of a say in the selection process.

  14. Excuse me? "Bullied into keeping quiet?" Which caucus did you attend? Mine was brisk, boisterous and participative. As for those who either don't understand the caucus system or don't care and didn't show up to participate, there is no excuse. If you're so upset, then you'd better get yourself elected as a state delegate next time around.

    As for "too much power in the hands of too few people," I think you just described our form of government under the Constitution. We are a representative republic where 100 Senators represent 50 states, and 435 Representatives are apportioned by population in the 50 states.

    These caucuses represent the very best of America at work. Traditionally, the caucuses have been poorly attended and there has been little activism among the electorate. This year, however, the sea change is coming. Get on board and enjoy it for what it is. Be one of the "too few" next time. . . get elected by your peers by standing for something you passionately believe in!

  15. I'm glad that you expressed respect for Senator Bennett, because he truly is a wonderful, Christ-like person. You may not agree with all of his policy positions, and I don't, either, but it would be wrong to allow our emotions over ObamaCare and the like to boil over and prompt us to trash a fine individual.

    Also, I'm not so sure that TARP was as bad as you say. Given that the entire financial system was seizing up, there's a serious question whether the consequences of no-TARP would have been worse than what happened with TARP. Without a perfect crystal ball, it's impossible to know what might have been. With TARP, the funds are being repaid to the government (even though Obama is seizing them for other purposes - but that's not Sen. Bennett's fault). The really outrageous bill was the Obama Stimulus, which Sen. Bennett vigorously opposed. Also, he made a major contribution in helping keep the Republican caucus united in opposition to ObamaCare.

    In addition, Sen. Bennett has a greater depth of knowledge of the workings of the Senate than anyone else. Utah needs to have not only a Senator with sound principles, but also the ability to achieve results under the Senate's arcane rules.

  16. Barry -- I understand all your points, and I actually agree with most of it. However, if there were no other considerations in play I would have say simply that "enough is enough." Senator Bennett will be 77 years old on election day 2010 if he makes it that far and isn't eliminated in the convention as a candidate. If elected he would be 83 years old at the end of his term. My biggest problem with Senator Bennett is that he is still clinging to power (as he supposes) as though this seat is a perpetual entitlement. It is simply time for him to move on. His father when he stepped aside became the merit badge counselor in our ward for the Citizenship merit badges -- not a bad place for the "young" Senator Bennett to wind up, don't you agree? Sad reality: Senator Bennett first asked for one term, then insisted his work wasn't done and asked for one more, promising it would be his last and he would "never become a career politician." He should have kept that one promise and all would be well with him. As it stands, he is headed for an ignominious assault by the delegates to this state convention, and I do not relish watching the way he will be treated. It is past time to pass the torch to a younger generation. . . he's done.