As a strong supporter of the caucus/convention nominating system for political candidates in Utah, I will not be gathering signatures to advance to the primary election. I will be putting my full faith in the delegates elected at neighborhood caucus meetings.
Each voting precinct holds party caucuses to select delegates who vet our candidate pool. This system allows neighborhoods to select fellow neighbors to meet, listen to, and pose questions to those who would seek to represent us.
There has been criticism that delegates chosen from respective political parties are too extreme and do not represent the opinions or values of the general public. I don’t agree with this, but the answer to that criticism would be to encourage greater public participation, not abandon the process. In addition, I have been very impressed over the years with the quality of delegates who have contributed to what I believe is the most substantive election cycle in the country.
Direct access to the primaries through signature gathering is not a vetting process. These campaigns are dependent on TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, yard signs, and messaging to large populations. Mass communications are very expensive, and do not allow for an in-depth discussion of issues. The financially well off and those with access to special interest contributions become more politically viable than candidates with less resources – but possibly better ideas and vision.
Primaries can be very hard on good candidates. If two opponents from the same party aren’t careful, they can damage that party’s ability to mount a strong opposition to another party’s candidate who was not required to go through a primary. We have seen this nationally.
It will be a sad day if we see the last true delegate election in America go away. Sound bites and campaign slogans shouldn’t replace in-depth analysis of our candidates.