Big Tent Republicans?

As the divide between parties widens, some voices in the Utah Republican Party are calling for Republicans to be less traditional and more “inclusive” of other ideas. They claim the Republican Party cannot survive holding onto our principles, that it will be overrun by Left leaning moderates and Democrats, that we will never get anyone elected unless we give some ground. Essentially, the call for “Unity at all costs!” is a call for Republicans to become Democrat-lite. A party of RINOs.

This tactic of constant appeasement and giving ground on important issues never works. While we may be able to elect politicians with an “R” next to their name, would it really matter? If they are voting for values that do not reflect the Republican Party Platform, who cares whether they have an “R” or a “D” next to their name when they vote? They would not represent us Republicans if they do not align with our platform on (at least) the majority of issues.

Appeasement has frustrated traditional Conservative voters so much we formed the Tea Party, and then elected the most unlikely man to the office of President for no other reason than to “drain the swamp.”

This raises a few questions: Do these calls of alarm have any merit? What or who are the driving forces behind them? Most importantly, should Republicans give up on Conservative principles and conform to Left leaning moderates and Democrats?

New research indicates that there is no merit behind the fears of the Republican Party being overshadowed by Democrats. A Pew Research Center survey indicates that Republican voters want the parties to be more Conservative, not less. 

Not only that, but a majority of Democrat voters also want their party to go further right, to be less Liberal and more moderate, as well.

Why is this? Likely because Americans recognize that Conservative principles work. They are more practical, more charitable, more humane, and more moral than Big Government ideas. As much as many Americans have disapproved of President Trump, limited government policies are being proven (again) to work, and to work very well.

Who is Behind It?

Who, then, is behind the call for the Republican Party to be less principled? The obvious answer is those who know they or their candidates cannot win elections as Conservative Republicans. They must, therefore, convince us that voters who support Republican principles are in the minority, rather than a majority, of the party and the population.

Does it Matter?

Let’s say the Pew survey is completely wrong, that everyone really is becoming less Conservative and more Liberal.

Does truth depend upon popularity? Will Big Government principles suddenly become effective just because people are misinformed? 

No, if Conservative voters were becoming more rare, that would only mean that we would need to redouble our efforts in sharing true principles. 

Truth resonates with the human heart. Many need only hear the truth to accept it and begin acting upon it.

How Exclusive Should We Be?

This, in no way, means we should be unkind as we share true principles. We may unknowingly offend or drive off allies in our contest for freedom and prosperity. Even the Founding Fathers did not always agree. Their debates were sometimes heated, but respectful disagreement helps us find the best way to reconcile differing opinions with true principles. 

If we share core principles, if our ultimate goal is to maximize liberty and preserve human rights, we can find common ground even if we do not agree 100% of the time.

Those whose core principles are not unified in the U.S. Constitution and Republican Party Platform will find they fit better with other parties. A careful study of the various party platforms will help citizens find the party that best align with their values.

Conclusion

What does this mean for the Republican Party?

It means our best strategy is to be true to ourselves. Be true to the Party Platform. Be true to the principles of liberty, prosperity, charity, and morality that makes us Republicans. We must seek unity, yes, but not at the cost of espousing Big Government/Liberal principles. Unity with bad principles is just as bad as, or worse than, being divided. 

Conservatives must unify with true principles. Elect people that understand and respect the United States Constitution, those that embody those principles, and then hold them accountable to those principles when they are in office. That is how we will win elections, and that is how we will make our county, state, and nation greater than ever before.

Our Official Utah Voter Guide

It is election season! Ballots are in the mail, meaning it is time we, as citizens of a free nation, make our educated voices heard at the ballot box!

But what if we haven’t read through these citizens initiatives? They can be quite lengthy and tedious to read (which is why we elect representatives to read and write legislation for us), so how do we make an informed decision? How can we tell what was written by special interest groups and corrupt corporations?

Well, as long as we have citizens initiatives, we all have to be informed. Then again, if you’re not sure, you could just vote “no” anyway. Frankly, it’s the safer choice if you are unsure what the bill means. You could also read the proposition’s name, and then assume it means the opposite of what it claims….

Prop 1: The 33% Gas Tax

The poorly named, “Our Schools Now” tax claims to be a tax to raise funds for schools. 

It is not.

Prop 1 is a gas tax increase, and according to the Utah Constitution, the State cannot tax citizens for one thing, then use it for another. 

Rather than just saying, “We are going to raise your taxes,” they do so under the guise of “Think of the children!” 

You will hear that a lot this year, by the way.

Video courtesy of Phill Wright

The way this bill claims to work is as follows: 

  1. Raise the price of every gallon of gas for everyone in Utah.
  2. Use that money to fix the roads and build new ones. That’s all a gas tax can legally be used for.
  3. If there is anything left over, then it can go into a general fund. They promise us that there will be a surplus. Cross their hearts, hope to die. They are super serious about this, and we can trust the government not to waste funds.
  4. If the general fund is not over budget, then the surplus from the gas tax can go to education. They promise us that there will be a surplus. Cross their hearts, hope to die. Again, super serious about keeping this promise. The funds will get to the teachers and students…. eventually.

Prop 2: The Marijuana Bill

This proposition has been the most divisive to Utahns in the Republican Party. Nothing said or written at this point will convince most people one way or the other, however, the primary reason Delegate Digest opposes this proposition is this:

Prop 2 is not small government friendly. It specifically does not allow local governments the ability to determine where marijuana can be grown and sold, meaning it can be grown and sold in the middle of any neighborhood, near any school, or near any park. 

Specifically: It can be grown in any home if there is no dispensary within 100 miles (and there will be none within 100 miles at first, meaning anyone can grow if they start right away); and it can be dispensed in any commercial or industrial zone, regardless of its proximity to areas that citizens would rightly oppose.

Video courtesy of The Libertas Institute

If Republicans support any form of government, we ought to support small government. The closer citizens are to the government, the more easily we find consensus among our community. Of equal importance, the closer government is to the people, the easier we can act as watchdogs to protect our families, our communities, and our rights.

There are many other issues with this bill, most (if not all) of them having been resolved with the compromise between the Libertarian organization, The Libertas Institute, and the Utah legislature. 

If Prop 2 is passed, Delegate Digest sincerely hopes that the compromise will be honored. 

Prop 3: The Obamacare Bill

This is an expansion of socialized medicine. If we want healthcare costs to go down, we need to stop subsidizing them

Seriously, stop it.

Let the markets find new ways to offer healthcare at lower rates, rather than taxing our citizens to death. 

And on top of that, any time we subsidize a market, guess who is writing those laws. 

Video courtesy of The Libertas Institute

Prop 4: The Gerrymandering Bill

Why is this a bad proposition? In short, unelected bureaucrats deciding our voting districts is not right.

The long answer is that the people behind this prop say they want to draw the lines to be “more fair.” More fair to who? 

Republicans have the majority of the vote in this state, and we have a majority of the representation for the House and Senate. Republicans generally win over 75% or more of the seats in the State legislature. Do we really want to hand 50% of the power to people who claim to represent their party, instead of the electorate? Because the way districts are drawn now by elected officials who (at least generally) represent the values of the voters. The way it is supposed to be.

Allowing unelected bureaucrats to draw haphazard districts around Salt Lake City, with the intention of taking a federal House of Representatives slot from Republicans and give that Congressional seat to Democrats is not “fair.” It is deceitful. 

Democrats are in the minority, which is why our state runs so much better than California.  That should be reflected in our representation on the Federal level, not gerrymandered away under a false claim to “fairness.”

Utah Democrats Continue Battling Utah Conservatives

After a sound defeat of the Direct Primary Elections Act by grassroots Republicans, Utah Liberals are furiously seeking alternatives to force the petition to be on the ballot. 

“We’ll point out there were a number of signatures that should have been validated, that were invalidated,” said Rich McKeown, a Count My Vote organizer. “We’re optimistic we’ll be on it (the ballot) at the end of the day.”

Count My Vote (CMV) supporters claim to have majority support in the state. KUTV reported:

“A recent poll reportedly showed the initiative, which would make it easier for people to run under political party banners and get on “direct primary” ballots while bypassing party conventions, had roughly two-thirds support.”

But where was the poll taken? How many people were polled, and how well to they reflect Utah Voters? Were they well informed on what the bill would do, who is behind it, and its effect in other states on empowering corrupt politicians?

Featured Article

'Count My Vote' to take case to Utah Supreme Court

"CMV says its lawyers are working on a filing now, and the court should have it in a couple of weeks."

It seems Utah Democrats (often found in Republican groups referring to themselves “moderates”) are determined to turn Utah into California. Utah and California could not be more different, each have been dominated by opposing principles. While Utah is finding incredible success, prosperity, and growth in small, limited government principles, California is experiencing its citizens are leaving more than they have moving in. Perhaps Utah Democrats would feel more comfortable in the Liberal Utopia of high taxes and few freedoms. 

We’ve already reported on how 4/5 of the sponsors of CMV are registered and lifelong Democrats, the dishonesty that drove the “success” in CMV’s signature gathering, and how effective telling the truth was in getting those signatures removed with 75% of CMV signers approached by pro-caucus Republicans.

“If it was done in an underhanded way, illegally, then it shouldn’t be on the ballot,” said Mary Loraine Roberson, a Provo resident and long time Republican voter.

Mary Roberson continued to say that she was approached by CMV signature gatherers, and did not sign. Yet her signature, and her husband’s, was still found on the ballot. She would not have discovered it except that a Conservative Republican volunteer came to her door to see if she wanted her signature removed. 

“I didn’t sign,” she said in a 2News interview, adding she thinks her signature was “forged.”

Do Conservatives Need to Worry?

Yes. And no.

Let’s assume CMV’s appeal is heard by the Utah Supreme Court, and that it does make it to the ballot in November.

One the one hand, 75% of signers of CMV do not support it.

On the other hand, with a misnomer like, “Count My Vote,” most people will vote for it thinking they are voting for a triumph over the Establishment, not realizing they are turning elections into a money game.

Most people hear the word “democracy” and equate it to freedom. They do not realize that pure democracy is essentially mob rule, where voting is done by the masses who do not read bills before voting for them. They were never taught in our school system, or they have forgotten, the brilliance of a republic.

What Can Be Done?

Improve the Caucus

Either way we need to be constantly improving the neighborhood caucus system.

Increase attendance, improve education. The neighborhood caucus system has the organizational structure to inform voters in ways direct primaries could never do (and were never intended to do).

Tell the Truth

While improving the neighborhood caucus system, we can also inform our neighbors of the efforts of Utah Democrats to subvert our voice through direct primary elections.

The truth is on our side, direct primaries run most of the country, and they are doing a terrible job at keeping government officials accountable. Sharing these things with our neighbors and networking with our neighbors is the best way to get our nation back. 

By simply informing our neighbors we can preserve our grassroot Conservative voices, and defeat corrupt politicians and Utah Democrats.

State Central Committee Meeting – May 2018

Quick Explaination

The State Central Committee (SCC) is the governing body of the Utah Republican Party. Their duty is to represent the people of their precincts in ensuring the party is able to fulfill its mission of electing Conservative leaders. See “Who is the SCC?”

The SCC is comprised primarily of neighborhood delegates elected from the various counties to represent their area. The SCC also includes various elected officials, and auxiliaries such as the College Republicans, Native American Republicans, Black Republican Caucus, etc.

Highlights from the Meeting

Accepting the Minutes

One of the first orders of business was accepting the minutes, or transcript and record, from the previous meetings as official record in the Party archives. There was some resistance to this, surprisingly. According to some SCC members, other members did not want what they said to be official record, however in the end the minutes were accepted. 

Bottom Line: This means everyone will be held accountable for what they have said in the past, which adds transparency in the party.

Rules for Auxiliaries Enforced

On January 27th, a bylaw update (bylaw 3) was adopted that required existing auxiliaries to re-qualify as official party organizations by the next SCC meeting. 

Four months later the Party Chairman called an executive meeting for May 8th to follow up with the bylaw, and interview/approve the auxiliaries, and approve a budget. There was debate on whether there were enough voting members (a quorum). It was determined at the May 8th meeting, including by Chairman Anderson, that there was a quorum, meaning the decisions made were binding

The purpose of authorizing auxiliaries is to ensure they reflect the views of the party and it’s members. Giving groups an SCC vote is a serious responsibility, one the executive committee did not take lightly. One primary reason more auxiliaries were not approved at that time was because only two auxiliary chairs attended the meeting to be interviewed. Without being authorized, the other auxiliaries were not credentialed members of the SCC until they went through the approved authorization channels. Another reason is that the agenda for the meeting was not sent out until 3 hours prior, and most of the links needed to have a successful meeting did not work.

The issue came in when the list of credentialed members was not up to date, as it included auxiliaries who had not been reauthorized. According to the party Constitution and Bylaws, the official roster to be used is only the Party Secretary’s roster. Utah Party Secretary Lisa Shepherd said her roster was up to date and correct, and if her roster were the one used, as it should have been, it could have saved the entire SCC half an hour or more.

Having reviewed the evidence presented to them, SCC members determined the rules of the party needed to be enforced at the May 19th SCC meeting, and so credentials taken from auxiliaries that were not qualified at the May 8th meeting. Republicans do, after all, believe in the rule of law, rather than mob rule of emotion.

Hecklers in the crowd tried to make the decision to follow the rules a “racist” act, however the rule was applied as equally to the College Republicans as it was to every other auxiliary. 

Bottom Line: The Republican Party chose to follow its own rules.

New State Caucus Task Force

Weldon Hathaway was assigned by Rob Anderson to lead the new State Caucus Task Force, along with 4 other members and more than 30 volunteers to assist. This move was surprising to many, based on past comments made about the caucus system by some of the 5 members. However, if implemented well it could be a powerful force to rejuvenating the caucus system, and help in secure more Conservative candidates that reflect Utah values, and less “moderate” candidates that would change the party to be more Liberal.

On the subject of vetting strong conservatives from moderate to liberal candidates, one of the Vice Chair candidates, Chadwick Fairbanks, received growing support during the final rounds of voting by pointing out the flaws of the concept of “unity at all costs.” He followed up by sharing the benefits of party leaders staying true to the principles that draws people to the Republican Party.

Some counties have also determined they would make their own county task forces, as local government is so much more effective in involving the grassroots, and we hope to see great things from these organizations!

Election of a New Vice Chair for the Party

James Evans

The previous vice chair, Joni Hillard-Crane, resigned from her position after declaring her campaign to run for a county commissioner seat, leaving a vacancy the SCC needed to fill. 

After (too many) rounds of balloting, the final two contestants were Kera Yates Birkeland and James Evans. This move so thoroughly dispelled the Progressive narrative that Republicans are racist/sexist hillbillies, that the few Democrats that snuck into the room spontaneously burst into flame.

Kera Birkeland

No, that didn’t really happen. But if you can’t have some fun in writing and politics, Dr. Mike Kennedy has a chill pill for you.

There was a great deal of support for both candidates, both were highly qualified and surely both would do a fantastic job. In the end Kera Birkeland secured the position with roughly 58% of the vote. And isn’t that the way elections ought to be? Not a last ditch attempt at the lesser of two evils, or even an epic battle between good and evil; but a friendly election between two good candidates who you can be confident want what is best for you and your neighbors.

Congratulations to Kera Birkeland, and thank to you all the candidates for their willingness to run and serve the party!

Hidden Signatures May Be Turned In A Month Late

An Expected Surprise

Utah politics seems to reflect the shenanigans of the national Democratic Party. 

Two days after the successful (and punctual) submission of roughly 2,600 signature removal forms, a stack of signature packets has mysteriously been discovered. How more than 100 packets went missing only to be discovered a month after their due date, and 2 days after the Direct Primary Election Act was likely disqualified, has many in a state of utter dismay. 

This kind of behavior becomes suspicious, especially after signature gatherers for direct primaries were caught and admitted to forging signatures, a 70% turnover rate by those informed on what was in the petition, and what appears to be Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s previous attempt to try to suppress the voice of the people in removing their signatures from a petition they do not support. Soon a pattern of dishonesty begins to form, which has many questioning how well the voice of the people is truly being represented by certain elected officials.

“I am sending these petition packets back to your office for immediate processing, and request you provide a written explanation as to why they were not processed by the close of business today.” – Lt. Governor Spencer Cox

Featured Article

Utah County forgot to process a box of Count My Vote petitions

“We found one box that contained 105 petition packets that do not appear to have been reviewed by your office,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the state’s top election official.

Who is Responsible?

Generally, the answer is “cui bono?” Who stands to benefit for the packets being unprocessed until after the deadline for signature removals has passed?

It appears the clerk’s office intentionally did not process 105 signature packets, but then decided to enclose the unprocessed packets upon submitting them to the Lt. Governor’s office. The unprocessed packets being discovered by the Lt. Governor’s office has led to rumors that the Utah County Clerk’s Office was intentionally withholding packets to help the pro-caucus movement, and harm the progressive’s direct primary movement. 

If that were the case, the plan would be as immoral as it was poorly implemented.

Whether you agree with the pro-caucus Keep My Voice movement or not, one thing cannot be denied. They are not idiots. 

Strategically speaking, if Keep My Voice were to collude with the Utah County Clerk to leave over 105 packets unprocessed, the next logical step would be to destroy them before they could be sent to the Lt. Governor’s office, and the collusion discovered. This begs the question: who is responsible for the packets not being process?

Keep My Voice volunteers were regularly told, “We believe there are signature packets that have not been processed in a few counties, so we have to go above and beyond the threshold we were told to be effective,” Utah County being one of those mentioned. More information on their report, including digital evidence of certain individual(s) at the clerk’s office knowing about the unprocessed packets and intentionally ignoring them, is expected to be released shortly.

What's Fair is Fair

We will let the courts make the determination of responsibility, as a serious election law was broken.

Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. No one should be penalized  for the ineptitude of a clerk, or the corruption of an elected official, and each of the people who signed deserves to be counted if their signature was submitted properly and on time. 

Similarly, each of those people deserves to not be misled by Count My Vote signature gatherers, especially in the cause of forgery. If the Lt. Governor is going to count those signatures (as he likely will) he also must give those same people an equal opportunity to have their names removed from a petition do not support (as they likely don’t).

As a reminder, 70%+ of those who signed Count My Vote, when told what is in it, readily requested their signatures be removed. Will the voice of those in the missing signature packets be honored, and time be given to properly inform them of what they signed their name and support to?

Brandon Beckham, founder at KMV, with a stack of signature removal forms

If you haven’t watched this one, do it. It’s 2 minutes, and well worth your time.

Does it matter?

Of course it matters, either through Clinton level corruption or supreme ineptitude, election law was violated, and someone needs to be held accountable. 

The question many are wondering is, will this get Count My Vote back on the ballot, effectively making each election a money game?

We will not know for sure until June 1st, when the Lt. Governor will have a final tally of what is on the ballot and what is not. Of course, once any petition is on the ballot it must still be voted on in the general election. 

We do know there is talk  of pro-caucus supporters ready to pursue legal action against those responsible, if necessary.

It seems unlikely CMV will be on the ballot, as KMV and many other small government lovers worked their tails off in a variety of counties, to inform their neighbors and get signatures off the ballot in multiple counties. KMV anticipated this kind of tomfoolery, even in Utah County. Multiple reports from their staff indicate they saw the unprocessed packets, inquired about them multiple times, and were told, “not to worry about those.” 

Well, worry they did, and they proceeded under the assumption that each of those packets was uncounted and full. Even though Utah County reported only being 38 signatures over the minimum threshold, Brandon Beckham reported turning in 845 signature removals, not including mail in removals, all collected within a 3 week timespan. This was roughly 810 more than they were told they needed to remove, if nothing else you can’t help but admire their work ethic.

The concern is that the wealthiest and most powerful people in Utah tend to be opposed to the vetting process unique to the caucus system. They realize the best way to buy elections is through direct primaries, and so they are running as much propaganda in the large cities as they can, trying to make caucus a “dirty word.”

The Good News

Regardless of what happens, we know God is in control. 

On the one hand, the people get the government and society we deserve. If we end up with a direct democracy, we will have to pay the consequences and join the rest of America living with, essentially, mob rule. For a while, we will wonder why things are so bad, with everyone voting on everything and every politician whether they have studied the issues and people or not. But eventually we will learn the wisdom of the Founding Fathers when they set up a democratic republic. 

On the other hand, a small, dedicated, educated, and faithful group of patriots has saved this country multiple times before, and with our continued prayers and hard work, we will qualify for heaven’s intervention once again.

Last Effort By Utah’s “Political Elite”

In what seems to be a last ditch effort to silence the grassroots of Utah, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s office has determined to… look, I have no other way to phrase this, they decided to play games. 

For weeks the Lt. Governor the signature removal forms needed to be turned in, “by May 15th.” 

Some time today (May 14th), however, some of the pro-caucus leaders at Keep My Voice were informed the signature removal forms needed to be turned in “before May 15th.” 

After a great deal of frantic scrambling, and no short amount of 3+ hour drives to get forms turned in to the appropriate county clerk’s offices last minute, reports indicate that all signature removal forms have been successfully turned in.

A note of appreciation ought to go out to the county clerks, who have been diligent in ensuring the voice of the people is properly represented.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox

This photo is a screenshot from the Utah State Code, amended back in 2011.

Notice it clearly says, “before May 15th.”

Source: Utah.gov

This photo is a screenshot from the signature removal forms.

Notice it clearly says, “by May 15th.”

Source: Official Signature Removal Form

Of course mistakes can happen. No one is perfect, and we realize that. 

At the same time, we can’t help but think that if the Lt. Governor’s office were accepting anti-caucus petitions, they might have been a little more flexible, giving the benefit of the doubt and accepting the date displayed on the official Utah signature removal forms.

Of course, we would never assume this was an attempt to use a coincidental typographical mistake to ignore the voice of the people as they attempt to remove their signatures from a petition they realized they do not support. That would be unethical behavior, and so we would never make that assumption. Ever.

In the end, however, it doesn’t matter why the confusion took place. The people’s voice was represented because they were able to make an educated decision, rather than being pressured into signing a petition they realized they did not understand.

And hopefully the time spent knocking doors to better inform our neighbors will make us all a little more involved in the neighborhood caucus system the next time around. We, the people of Utah, are stronger when we are actively engaged and united in the cause of freedom.

It Shouldn’t Be So Easy To Get a Bill on the Ballot

After a David slaying Goliath type effort by grassroots Conservatives, it is expected that the “Direct Primary Election Act,” a petition based on Progressive/Liberal principles, will be disqualified from the ballot in November.

This has led to “Political Insiders” complaining that their $3.1 million dollars has gone to waste. Conservatives everywhere are, of course, devastated at their loss.

Said one “political insider:”

The tactics being used to rescind signatures are appalling. They are misleading and in many instances unethical. The chance to have something on the ballot to be able to vote on it is already a Herculean effort, and these unethical tactics to rescind signatures do not have a place in our democracy.”

Yet, in spite of their complaints, out of the hundreds of signature removals gathered by the pro-caucus efforts, where are the complaints of unethical behavior? If it required unethical behavior to get signatures removed, why did volunteers report that honesty and education were the best methods of gathering removals?

Former Governor Mike Leavitt called pro-caucus supporters, “dishonest,” and Rich McKeown, another sponsor of the Direct Primary Election Act, accused volunteers of “bullying,” and “unfair.” Yet the state elections director Justin Lee said his staff has, “had a few calls,” about the signature removal process, but no complaints of dishonesty, threats, or bullying.

Now, to be fair, there were reports of unethical behavior, though they were not from the pro-caucus movement. Pro-Direct Primary signature gatherers were charged and admitted to forging up to 472 signatures in Weber County.

More common than forgery, it seems was misinformation was the real culprit in gathering support for direct primaries. Volunteers who went door to door collecting signature removals reported a 70%+ success rate, simply by telling the truth. Read more about their education campaign here.

Featured Article

'Political Insiders' say it should be more difficult to remove signatures from ballot initiatives

"Our "Political Insider" panel is a select group of Republican and Democratic politicians, officeholders, lobbyists, and activists. This survey is NOT scientific."

Should We Have Petitions At All?

One anonymous commenter on the article pointed out:

“Passing laws by initiative is a very poor way to make laws. It allows for no amendments, compromises, or other give and takes that carefully considered laws require. Therefore, allowing rescinding signatures is a check on poorly considered proposals.”

Another said:

“I think initiatives generally make for bad policy (see California, for example) because they are not subjected to the same checks and balances–committee hearings, floor debates, veto, etc.–as traditional legislation. The proponents also don’t have to deal with the budget implications of the initiatives they pass. The Framers feared direct democracy for a reason. Consequently, I believe it should be hard to pass Initiatives–even harder than it is now.”

On the one hand, it is true, signature gathering is generally a terrible way to pass laws or nominate candidates. Some people will be highly informed on current events and candidate’s principles and history, but most people are not. Most people don’t have time to do so, which is why they elect their neighbors to be delegates and candidates to be government representatives. It is, in fact, the entire reason for representative government.

We elect representatives to read, debate, amend, and pass legislation. If they aren’t doing a good job representing you and your values, then let’s elect better representatives.

On the other hand, the Founding Fathers strongly believed in checks and balances. Petitions for citizen drafted laws can be a check on unresponsive representatives. It is not ideal, having better representatives is of course the ideal, and history shows the single path neighborhood caucus/convention system is the best way to achieve that

Our representatives ought to be so in tune with the elected delegates, who represent the people, that we don’t need legislative petitions in the first place. But if we must have the dual path, and if we must have legislative petitions, let’s at least make them better than they are now.

Here are some ideas to improve signature initiatives:

  1. Lower the amount of required signatures per county, but require signatures be gathered at a government building on a digital kiosk to ensure signers truly care about the petition, rather than being collected door to door by paid staff.
  2. Require a valid government I.D. be scanned by the digital kiosk.
  3. Require petitions be contained to a single page of a specified font, size, and margin to ensure brevity and help increase understanding.
  4. Require petition be read aloud before signing.
The above steps would save hundreds of thousands of dollars, lower the risk of forgery, and ensure everyone knows exactly what they are signing before giving their support. This would also allow petitions to be brought forth based on their merit more than how much their financial backers can pay signature gatherers.

How Difficult Is It To Get Your Name On the Petition?

To sign a ballot petition you need to provide your: 

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Signature.

This information is typically fairly easy to come by, you will often see signature gatherers in front of the grocery store or Gail Miller’s Megaplex Theaters.

While the petition may be dozens of pages long, few, if any, signers have time to read through them all. This is the entire purpose of electing representatives, so they can be the professionals in reading and understanding complex legislation. That is the entire point of representative government, and why the Founders called pure democracy, “mob rule.” 

Here is an example of a petition signature form.

Click to Expand

Required Information

Click to Expand

How Difficult Is It To Get Your Name Off the Petition?

To remove your signature from a ballot petition you need to provide your: 

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Last 4 digits of your social
  4. Entire driver’s license number
  5. The name of the ballot you want your name removed from
  6. Signature

There tends to be considerably more pushback from people when requesting this information. It took building a relationship of trust,  education, and passion in favor of the neighborhood caucus system for people to be willing to give such sensitive personal information over the past few weeks.

Here is an example of a petition signature removal form.

Click to Expand

Required Information

Click to Expand

In other words, it is already considerably more difficult to remove your signature than it is to add it. It’s no wonder, then, that these “political insiders” want to make it impossible for voters to remove their support after learning more about what they have signed.

The hope of Delegate Digest is that there will be more transparency and accountability in the future for the petition signature gathering process, as we outlined above. The people of Utah deserve to know a) what they are signing, and b) to remove their signature if it was gathered by unethical means.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Keep My Caucus

A Grassroot Effort to Save the Caucus

For the past 3 weeks, dozens of caucus loving volunteers, and a few passionate paid staff from Keep My Voice, have been on a reverse signature gathering mission.

Their goal: To disqualify what they see as a dangerous and poorly written petition.

The Direct Primary Election Act (Count My Vote), is under heavy criticism by many citizens of Utah, both Republican and Democrats alike, but perhaps no one is more critical of the petition than those that signed it. Volunteers reported an average of 70% success, or more, in getting signatures removed after explaining what was in the petition.

“It gets rid of the caucus?” citizens asked, door after door. “They told me it would help more people get on the ballot, they never said it would get rid of the caucus!” 

It was no easy task to go to a stranger’s door, tell them they had been misled, and convince them to give up personal information for a cause, and yet the volunteers found success in being open and honest.

While many citizens reported never signing the petition, leading to concerns of identity theft and fraud, the majority of signers of the petition seem to have simply not had all the facts. 

Using the public database to find only those that signed, a common approach went like this:

“Hi, is your name ________? My name is _______, do you remember some paid signature gatherers coming by a few months ago? Well in that stack of signatures there was one that was really concerning to me. It’s called the “Direct Primary Elections Act,” and the concerns I have with it are that it would essentially void the caucus system, and allow unlimited candidates to get on the ballot.

“My primary concern is that I believe in the caucus system. It can be improved upon, of course, but I really like that neighbors can elect each other to properly vet the candidates, and I really value that vetting process. I’ve seen how effective it can be.

“Now, we’ve found that a lot of people didn’t realize what it was they were signing, so I’m just going around and letting people know so they can make an informed decision on whether they want to keep their signature on the petition or not.

“If you intended to sign a petition that would do away with the effectiveness of the caucus system, that’s fine, we’re just letting people know. If you did not mean to do that, the State of Utah has provided these forms so you can remove your signature from the petition.

“Do you have any questions over what I have shared with you today?”

Green – Signature removal form complete
Blue – Not home
Red – Contacted but refused

A blank signature removal request form.

Misinformation

While it is true that Count My Vote version 2.1 does make it significantly easier than previous versions to get on the ballot, that may not be a good thing:

“To get on the statewide ballot in the 2003 California recall, you only had to submit 65 signatures of registered voters and pay a $3,500 fee. No partisan primaries to slog through and less than 11 weeks of campaigning…

“So ultimately 135 Californians qualified to run for governor, a mix of legitimate political contenders, publicity-seekers and some who just thought it would be fun to see their names on the ballot. “

Daily News, 2013

Not only would the Direct Primary Election Act lower the threshold to just 1% of the voting population of the party in the county or state, California’s example shows that it allows an unlimited number of candidates to get on the ballot. With 135 candidates on the ballot, a candidate could win and election and begin making laws for the county or state with less than 1% support from the community.

“I don’t want to be like California,” volunteers explained. “Utah has been ranked among the best run states in the nation for years. I think that’s because the caucus system makes the candidates more accountable.”

“The delegates represent the people,” another volunteer shared. “We aren’t bad guys, we’re your neighbors. If you don’t like the way the system is running, come to caucus night! Let’s fix it! Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

More Concerns

Concerns with the Direct Primary Election Act run deeper still.

“I actually called Count My Vote headquarters, I asked them to add in a runoff between the top two candidates, so the primary winner has majority support. Sure it would be more expensive, but why should they suddenly care about expenses all the sudden? Primaries are always more expensive than conventions, at least a runoff make the primaries less divisive.”  

(Volunteer requested to remain unnamed)

This same volunteer received a signature removal form from a registered Democrat because of her concern that a “radical” Republican could split the moderate vote and win the election.

Another concern for Utah Republicans is that four of the five sponsors of the bill are either registered Democrats, or appear to by more sympathetic to Liberal principles than Conservative ones. This is not to say that they are bad people, only that their views do not reflect Republican/Conservative principles, which are most commonly held by the majority of Utahns.

  1. Ben McAdams (D) mayor of Salt Lake County, and registered Democrat.
  2. Norma W. Matheson (D), wife of Scott Matheson (last Utah governor to be a registered Democrat) and leader in the Utah Democratic Party.
  3. Rich McKeown (D), author and registered democrat.
  4. Kem Gardner (D) wealthy businessman, former Democratic Utah Governor candidate, and Hillary Clinton supporter.
  5. Mike Levitt (R) former governor of Utah, his businesses, such as Leavitt Partners, tend to be proponents of liberal programs such as Obamacare.

Criticisms

Criticism 1:

The most common criticism of the pro-caucus movement, ironically, is that it is funded by a wealthy Conservative. 

BallotPedia reports the Direct Primary Election Act received $838,371 in donations in the last 2 years, and over $3 million since 2013. In contrast, Keep My Voice, the pro-caucus movement, is reported to have received $52,850 in donations.

Once a direct primary system is in place, the biggest spender wins 91% of the time, because they require candidates reach as many voters as possible. Caucus/convention races only have to reach a small number of elected neighborhood delegates. This allows candidates more time per voter, making it far cheaper and easier for a principled “underdog” to run a successful campaign against an entrenched incumbent. 

Criticism 2:

Another criticism is that the Direct Primary Election Act does not technically “void” the neighborhood caucus system. 

This is technically true, but practically false. What the petition would do is makes the caucus ineffective. It does so by pushing the dates between caucus night and the convention to only a few days apart. That is simply not enough time for delegates to vet candidates, or candidates to earn the trust of the elected neighborhood delegates. Many delegates take their role seriously, and want to make an informed decision before voting. With so many candidates running in so many races, a few days is not nearly enough time for the convention system to be any more effective than direct primaries.

Criticism 3:

“But what about democracy! Don’t you respect the will of the people?” 

The debate between pure democracy (mob rule) and a republic (representative government) is an ongoing one. Democrats typically choose to favor democracy, while Republicans tend to favor a republic. To find out why, check out our article, “Representative Republic vs Pure Democracy” 

Hope for Success

After weeks of hard work in the sun, and receiving hundreds of signature removal requests (estimates exceed 600 in Washington County alone, roughly 20% of qualified signatures submitted in that county), the pro-caucus effort hopes to have successfully beaten the “Establishment” move to undercut the grassroot voices of Utah.

The greater victory is not only in having disqualified so many signatures, but in thwarting the direct primary election efforts year after year. Perhaps those trying to kill the grassroots voices of the caucus system, those afraid of the vetting process of neighborhood delegates, will waste their money elsewhere. The caucus is here to stay.

Now it’s time to make it better.

The Caucus Is Awesome

We Can Make it Better

Representative Republic vs Pure Democracy

Why Not Democracy?

Did you know the word “democracy” is not found in the Constitution, nor in the Bill of Rights, or even the Declaration of Independence? Yet the word “republic” is found 5 times in the Constitution, the governing document of our nation.

Why is it the Founding Fathers of our nation created so many checks and balances, yet only gave the people the power to vote directly for members of the House of Representatives? (Article I Section 2:1) All other officers of the Federal Government are chosen by the elected representatives, or appointed by them. 

The Senate, originally, was appointed by the elected State Legislatures, up until the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment, by the way, was passed with the promise of “ending corruption in Congress.” How well has that gone over? 

The President, originally, was appointed by the Electoral College. Members of the Electoral College once were elected by the people, who then in turn elected the President.

Why do this? What is the advantage of representative government? We have the technology, why not have everyone vote for the House, Senate, and President, right? 

Well, why stop there. If it is better that everybody have a vote on who is nominated to represent the party in government elections, then wouldn’t it be even better if we ended Congress and the Presidency, and instead had everybody vote on every piece of legislation? 

Just log into your phone every morning and decide if we are going to war with China. Right?

In fact, why have a jury trial? We could all wake up and pass a guilty/not guilty verdict on each trial in our city, county, state, or county?

Featured Video

Democracy (Demos-kratein) is Latin for “Rule of the People”

Republic (Res Publica) is Latin for “Rule of the Public/Law”

"Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%."
(source)
Thomas Jefferson

Why a Republic?

A government where the people can vote on every law and elect every politician has proven to do more harm than good. Take Congress in our own nation, for example, where the people directly elect every member of Congress through direct primaries. Rather than representing the people, Congress has a 15% approval rating, yet they maintain a 90% reelection rate.

Going back to the jury example, the average voter does not have the time to keep up on every issue, to meet every candidate, or to follow every jury trial. It is not that the average voter is stupid, it is that they have different priorities, and that’s okay! That is why the Founders knew to delegate the responsibility from the people to delegates/representatives. They followed the pattern of Moses with the children of Israel, assigning “captains” of 10 families, 50, 100, etc.

The Founders knew the closer representatives were to those that voted them in, the more accountable they would be. This is why they favored small, localized governments, and representative government. 

Consider it this way: Let’s say your Senator is voting for things you do not support, How difficult is it for you, as a voter, to reach your Senator in Washington D.C. How well is your voice truly heard when you are but one of millions of voters?

Now consider how expensive it is for him to listen to you when he has to reach millions of other voters every term. How can he listen to millions of voices? He has to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach as many people as he can, and he can only reach them for a short time.

In contrast, how much easier is it for you to get ahold of your neighborhood delegate down the street? Or your city councilman, or state legislature? 

Let’s say our nation still ran as a republic instead of being so close to pure democracy, and your Senator was making bad decisions. Rather than you trying to reach his cell phone among millions of others, you call your local representative, the ones that appointed the Senator for you, and let him or her know your opinion. Now your local representative calls D.C. as a delegate or elected government official. In states like Utah, where republics still exist, Senators take the calls of the delegates that elected them, and because there are far fewer of them, the Senators can take far more time with each neighborhood delegate, to hear their concerns.

If that Senator were no longer representing the voice of the people, they can easily be removed by the delegates who elected him/her in, because delegates tend to pay  far closer attention to those they have elected than the average voter. That’s how Bob Bennett was replaced by Mike Lee, which is likely what started the war on the Neighborhood Caucus System in Utah.

The fact of the matter is that the Founders were right. The closer representatives are to those that voted them in, the better accountability.

Why Parties?

The question has been asked since before George Washington recommended we not establish parties at the founding of our nation. It is a fair criticism, why do we need political parties at all? With the divide the Utah Republican Party is experiencing, should we scrap the Republican Party entirely?

Having been on both sides of this argument, I would like to share my thoughts.

Disadvantage

The disadvantage of political parties is that they tend to polarize issues. Rather than questioning how and what to tax, we have two general opinions: raise all taxes, or lower all taxes. This can easily get in the way of finding real solutions, and the debates tend to devolve into Democrat vs Democrat-lite.

I would contend the gridlock exists because there tends to be as little difference between the two parties as there is accountability. In other words, if the people are able to hold their representatives accountable, they will make sure their candidate is finding solutions, or will be removed. The gridlock disappears when politicians represent the people, rather than representing special interest groups, and this criticism of the parties is really a criticism of apathetic voters not holding representatives accountable.

Advantage

The whole purpose of political parties is to unite people who already hold common beliefs, or who value common principles. These beliefs and principles can be found in the party platform.

Candidates and delegates cannot morally run for a position of representation in a party they largely disagree with. 

So what happens when someone agrees with with much of the platform, but not all? It would be difficult, if not impossible, to form parties where every member agrees 100% of the time.

How (and When) to Unite

Fortunately, we do not need to agree on everything to work together. People that share the same goals, values and principles, can come to a good compromise. People who do not share the same goals, values, and principles will have a very difficult time coming to any sort of agreeable compromise. 

I believe this is what is happening in the Utah Republican Party, and is causing the divide. People who share different values and goals have realized that Utah is a Conservative state, similar to California being a Liberal state, making it difficult to run or elect anyone as anything other than as a Republican. 

Essentially, a few members come into a party they largely disagree with (according to the party platform the rest of the members have aligned themselves to) and try to change the party to better suit their views. 

In an effort to make the Utah Republican Party a “big tent” party, they preach the concept of “Unity at all Costs.” But can a party be unified when it’s members differ in goals and principles? Likely the answer is, “no.” And that’s okay. That’s why we have multiple parties, to help people of multiple views organize themselves together.

The First Amendment gives us the right to assemble, meaning we can choose who we assemble with. We can choose how our assembly is run. The government is not permitted to force our assembly to associate with those that disagree with us so greatly, on issues that are very important to us. The issues we hear from the “Big Tent Republicans” are calls for us to be more moderate on issues of abortion, gay marriage, the right to self defense, the right to freedom of assembly, taxation, and the proper role of government.

When this is the case, where someone agrees with, say, 50% of the party platform and disagrees on the rest, there are typically conflicting principles in the person’s mind. These inconsistent principles likely need to worked out by that person to gain more consistency, and get rid of cognitive dissonance. Another option is for them to take another look at the various party platforms and find the one that best represents their views.

For your convenience, I have included links to all of the major party platforms in Utah, since this is where Delegate Digest is currently focused, so you can find which party best reflects your opinion. You may be surprised at the result!

 

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About Us

Delegate Digest is dedicated the mission of protecting and rejuvenating the Neighborhood Caucus/Convention System.

We believe the best way to protect the caucus system is to rejuvenate it. Simply implementing it’s inherit organizational structure, unique at the grassroots level, will show people how genius small government representation truly is, and how vastly superior it is to pure democracy.

Rather than protecting the status quo, we need to implement modern technology to help get people to their caucus meeting, and keep them involved and informed in the time between.

Our hope is that upon seeing the caucus system fully implemented and representing their views, the citizens of Utah will laugh at attempts to subvert or destroy the caucus system.