|Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)|
As anyone who reads this page will know, I love and have defended the Utah caucus/nominating process. After last night I am even more resolved to keep it alive and prospering.
What happened last night in Utah is indicative of the very best the representative republic our founders envisioned. That vision involved putting power in the hands of the people, ordinary citizens of this great country, who were handed the keys to the powerful engine of freedom and liberty. The founders believed the majority of Americans could be trusted with such power because their intent was to divide and separate the throttles of government into three branches, executive, judicial and legislative. Central to their idea was that the people would be vigilant because they were free citizens, and resist any encroachment by the federal government into their lives.
Their design of the government was that it become a representative republic, meaning the people would elect representatives directly by simple majority (democracy) to then represent them in a divided federal government (representative republic). The intent was to limit power, to discourage centralization of power and to keep power in the three branches in check so no one in America could consolidate power and impose tyrannical rule.
Last night we witnessed the process play out under the same rules as existed in 2010, but with a much different result. Even though Bennett and Hatch cast identical votes in favor of TARP, it was obvious the memory had faded in the case of Hatch. The anger level was decidedly down last night. People genuinely feared three things: Obama's consolidation of power, the effect of Freedom Works threatening to take over Utah politics (Hatch painted himself as a victim very effectively), and fear that Utah would lose its clout in Washington without such a strong savior figure as Orrin Hatch. I really believed that people in my caucus thought life without Orrin Hatch was inconceivable.
The democratic process where majority rules happens at the cellular level in the caucus. A simple majority of 51% determines who the elected representatives will be to go forward to the nominating convention where candidates are chosen. That's what is meant by a representative republic. Those representatives, elected at the grassroots level by their peers, then make bigger decisions for the majority who sent them forward to do the people's business in the divided representation available to them in the executive and legislative branches.
Organizing support at the grassroots is what the caucus is all about, and Hatch had a formidable organization that turned out their supporters in record numbers. People who say it was the Church's appeal just don't understand that the Church says all the same things in a repeat of all the same press releases and over-the-pulpit statements in every single election cycle that I can remember. Nothing really changes.
I was instantly aware of the shift in demographics last night. Very few young or even middle-aged folks were there at our caucus. The average age was in the sixties and above. Someone who attended Orrin Hatch's home precinct caucus quipped that he was the youngest one there.
Hatch skillfully deployed a Terry Woods interview with Jake Garn, Norm Bangerter and Jim Hansen, who all talked about Orrin's clout, influence, seniority, knowledge, experience - you name it he has it - and posited the "what if" list of horribles associated with not returning Orrin to the Senate. Then they trotted out negative ads against Liljenquist that drowned him in a sea of doubt about his viability. You don't win six terms in the Senate without knowing how to win an election. My advocacy of Dan's credentials as an acceptable alternative to Hatch landed on deaf ears.
So basically my position last night was DOA. One lady after I laid out my position and offered my slate of candidates I was supporting: Mitt Romney (President), Dan Liljenquist (Senate), Gary Herbert (Governor) and John Swallow (AG) challenged me with, "Well, I can't vote for you, because Mitt Romney endorsed Hatch and that means you don't support Mitt Romney." Wow, I didn't have a response for that convoluted reasoning. Romney's endorsement last go around for Bennett was a non-starter. This time, however, the "I need Orrin Hatch" appeal was compelling.
You win or lose in the court of public perception and opinion. But the majority made their will known in our caucus, and it was overwhelmingly supportive of Senator Orrin Hatch.
The only story remaining is whether or not Hatch will garner enough support at the nominating convention on April 21st (60%) to avoid a primary race. If I were a betting man like Mitt Romney, I'd betcha $10,000 he will.
Never underestimate a canny old six-term Senator with a big war chest who can muster the octogenarians to his side and instill the fear of God in those who believe he is a national treasure who cannot be replaced and is indispensable to the nation in the fight against all things Obama.
In the case of Orrin Hatch, he cannot be replaced until he dies. Let's all pray for his health and longevity now.