Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thoughts After My First Caucus

Last Month, a letter was read to LDS (Mormon) congregations in Utah.  The letter was written by a member of the First Presidency, and signed by all three of its members.
It read (in part):
"We are concerned that citizen participation rates in Utah are among the lowest in the nation, and we urge greater involvement by members of the church in the 2016 election cycle...
Our communities and our state are best served when Utah citizens fully engage in the political process through caucus meetings, primaries and other political mechanisms...
It is important to remember that engaging in the election process is both a privilege and a significant responsibility regardless of one's political inclinations…
and that principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of the various political parties."
I sat in Sacrament meeting as Bishop McGee read this letter to us, and heard it once again as he read it in Priesthood meeting, and urged us as priesthood brethren to heed the Prophet’s words and to participate in the upcoming caucuses.
“But I'm an Independent, and I am excluded from doing so,” is all that I kept thinking in my head.
If you don’t know me, let me explain something to you.
I don’t salute the flag.
I don’t repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.
I don’t honor our country on the 4th of July.
I don’t do these things because in doing so, I feel that I would be honoring an institution that has turned its back on the citizens that keep it running. And, I believe, that part of the problem in this country can be laid squarely at the feet of the two parties (the R’s and the D’s) who are so concerned with keeping their power and influence that they fail to see the needs of the people that they are supposed to represent.
So here I am at a quandary.  The leaders of the Church, the leaders that I sustain, literally, as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators have asked that I participate in the caucuses even though I am an Independent, and registered as such.
A few years ago, there was a citizen’s initiative called “Count my Vote” that would have done away with the caucus system in Utah and replaced it with an open primary.  Well, then the Utah legislature swooped in to save the caucus system by issuing an alternative to “Count my Vote” in S.B.54.
Now, I’m sort of okay with S.B.54 because even though it preserved the caucus system, it did have language requiring all parties to open their caucuses to all registered voters, regardless of which party they declare themselves to be.
The Democrats agreed, probably because the Republicans disagreed with the bill.  And the Republicans disagreed so much, that they took the bill to court, and there it stands.
So, as of last night, any registered voter could caucus with the Democrats and the Republicans required participants to register with their party, in violation of the law, I might add, since S.B.54 is the law of the land.
So, being a good Mormon, who sustains my leaders, I went to the Democratic caucus and stood in line for 2-1/2 hours.
A lot of people have told me, go to the Republican caucus, change your affiliation there, you can do that, and then change it back next week.
I could have done that, because I really wanted to vote for anyone other than Trump or Cruz in their caucus.  But to me, registering as a Republican just to vote in a caucus that they don’t want me at, and then to change my registration back to Independent later felt disingenuous.  Not, authentic, as it were.
The Republicans have proven themselves as an exclusionary party time and again with their lawsuits and bills intended to quash voter’s rights in this state and others.  Voter I.D. laws and the like are meant to do just that, no matter what they argue about their attempts to protect the vote.
The Utah Republicans argue that they are a private institution and no law should require them, as a private institution, to open their “member’s only” voting to outsiders.
I could agree with that, if they were a men’s club, or a country club, or a sewing group, or any other kind of club that didn’t affect the lives of those outside their exclusive group. But they are a political party, whose platforms and policies affect all of us as a country, and therefore they should be, and are, required by law to open their voting to any registered voter who walks through their door.
Others have told me that I shouldn’t sweat the caucuses because the November election is open to all, and I can vote there.
You know what?  That kind of statement really pisses me off.
At the end of 2014, there was a protest in Hong Kong.  It’s sometimes referred to as the Umbrella Revolt.  Up until that point Hong Kong was essentially a democracy.  Candidates could declare, and be elected by the people in an open election.  Well, in 2014 the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decided that they would be picking the candidates from now on, and that the people could then decide which of the two puppets they would want as their leader.  The people of Hong Kong flipped out and revolted.
So when people tell me that, essentially, as an Independent, I just have to live with whoever other people send to the ballot in November, and be happy about it, well, you can just imagine how I feel about that person.
So, Last night, I followed the Prophet, and went to the Democratic caucus.  My first caucus ever, and the Democrats were just as nice as they could be.  I stood in line, a lot.  I talked with some very nice people, and I voted for one of the two Democratic candidates, who I thought would do the best job for our country, if they get into the White House.
God Bless America.  So it goes...

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