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REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU MAY HEAR in public discourse or from the cable pundits, the United States is a Representative Republic (based on a Constitution). That sounds rudimentary; however, many people clearly don’t understand this simple fact.
There are those who would attempt to undermine the importance–the Providential design–of Our Republic. Don’t listen to them!
In American Heritage, An Interdisciplinary Approach, Fox & Pope elucidate the value of the multi-tiered, indirect election process in the vetting of good, wise, and honest (morally and virtuously superior) elected leaders…
Indirect Election. The logic of the representative principle could be carried even, further, as the Scottish philosopher David Hume had pointed out. If the people were likely to elect a moral superior as a representative, then why not call the elected representatives together and allow them to elect a representative of their own—who was likely to be still more virtuous? With each ascending tier of representation, there would be a refining process at work. Men (and women) of wider and wider reputation—and broader and broader outlook—would thus automatically be vested with the greatest authority. And they would be even further distanced from the passions of the multitude. [From Fox & Pope, American Heritage, pp 128-129, emphasis added]
Fox & Pope further illustrate the practical application of this principle…
(James) Madison and his colleagues discussed numerous ways to apply the principles of representation and indirect election in the proposed Constitution. The most notable was in the electoral college. Presidential electors would be chosen by the people solely on the basis of individual merit. These representatives would then convene and cast ballots of their own to elect the President and Vice President. The system thus featured two tiers of representation—a double refining process—while at the same time short-circuiting patronage. [From Fox & Pope, American Heritage, pp 128-129, emphasis added]
Madison, the primary pen of the Constitution, saw the wisdom of a multi-tiered vetting process of representative selection. This process of the People vetting candidates through multi-tiered elections has an inherent user-friendliness, transparency, and accountability.
Within the fundamentals of election process—more IS better! (The more tiers, the more scrutinized the candidate.)
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The process of the People vetting candidates through multi-tiered elections has an inherent user-friendliness and transparency. [SEE DIAGRAM #1] Vested citizens (voters) sharing common values and belief systems (parties), gather (caucus) to select (elect) representatives of their own choosing (delegates). In turn, the newly elected representatives (delegates) of the group then meet (convention) to select (elect) their party’s representatives (party candidates). The party’s candidate then meets in a party primary election (if a certain threshold is not met) and then in a general election with similarly vetted candidates from other parties. In a general election of the People an elected representative is chosen. And, according to Hume, a more “virtuous” representative is then seated through a multi-tiered, indirect election system.
Utah’s Caucus/Convention System is based on Hume’s proposed multi-tiered methodology–adopted by the Founding Fathers and integrated into the Constitution. What the Count My Vote (CMV) proposal (SB54) does is provide an end-run (short-cut or leap-frog approach) for an individual to become a non-vetted candidate—removing the valuable microcosmic-scrutiny that occurs during the Caucus tier and the Convention tier. [SEE DIAGRAM #2]
In this case…more IS better! More tiers. More scrutiny. More educated participation by citizens. More. More. More.
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On a general level, the electorate is relatively uneducated regarding political issues and candidates. A person only need watch Watters’ World on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor to get a demonstrative taste of what people on the street know (or don’t know) about state and national politics. It’s not surprising. Most people are more worried about what they’ll eat for dinner on the first Tuesday of November (even numbered years) then who they’ll vote for in the national elections.
Most politically uneducated voters are primarily influenced by branding and messaging. They don’t (or won’t) take the time necessary to personally vet candidates, learn about initiatives and referenda, or ballot measures. There is a tendency, among “participatory voters” to ask the opinions and positions of “respected” neighbors; however, many times the political opinions of our friends and acquaintances are not aligned, are not congruent, with our own principles (i.e. religious, moral, ethical, etc.). We assume because they are “good people” we can “trust” their “advice.” After all, my pastor, or Stake President, is a good, wise, and, honest (wo)man—right?!
The test, politically, to see if someone’s advice is of any use to you, is to attend your neighborhood Caucus meeting where candidates who want to become delegates are vetted in a Q&A session before they are voted on. Neighbors gather to discuss political philosophy, ballot initiatives, and potential candidates for various elected positions. Neighbors, who are not normally immersed in local, state, and national politics, may ask the “dumb” questions during a Caucus—before, perhaps, making bad choices at the ballot box. At the Caucus, participants receive campaign materials (and answers) directly from those who have committed (or will commit) to studying the nitty-gritty of the current election cycle. Candidates for delegate positions pledge to answer your phone calls and address the concerns you have in personal emails. And, because you have previously read, understand, and identify with a specific party platform, you will cast your Caucus ballot for a truly “good, wise, and honest” delegate (candidate) who you have personally scrutinized.
A delegate who has been adequately vetted by his/her neighbors (party affiliated) most likely represents the majority feelings and political positions of the neighborhood (precinct).
The responsibility of each delegate to his/her respective party’s convention is to implement a similar methodology (utilized during the Caucus phase) throughout the protracted Convention process. The convention process consists of a procedure including discovery, debate, and decision-making (voting).
Removal of these two extremely important steps (the Caucus step and the Convention step) while vetting political candidates and/or measures, undervalues and undermines a time-tested system created Constitutionally by Our Founding Fathers.
(This post was provided from an abridged version of a presentation Chair Frank gave to Legislative District 6 leadership on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Lehi, UT.)