Saturday, April 12, 2008

All the Utah County Republican incumbent protection stuff…blah!

OK, I stayed out of political parties for a long time because I wanted to stay out of all of the inter-party silliness. I was more interested in statewide ethics reform such as prohibiting politicians from using campaign donations for personal use, a gift ban or at least full disclosure, and term limits. These issues are independent of political party and the majority of Utahns from all affiliations support them, with the possible exception of term limits. I recently became a Republican county delegate from my precinct and as such am now indirectly involved in some of the infighting. This will be my quick summary and opinion, with a lot of links to Kip Meacham’s Orem Precinct 27 blog that sums up a lot of the issues very well. I am not in that precinct, but I appreciate his efforts at informing his precinct and working towards fairness and transparency in the countywide elections.

The first problem was the “Fabulous Five” mailing on behalf of some incumbent Republicans. Party leaders say it was an “oversight” and just a late mailing. Bologna guys. You absolutely knew that the mailing at the very least appeared to endorse those candidates and what day it was being mailed. It just makes young party members angry when you break your own rules on not favoring one Republican candidate over another. Especially when the text reads in part:

This year, The Fabulous five will be at the forefront of a battle to retain their seats from others whose agendas call for more government intrusion, higher taxes, and restricted freedoms.


It doesn’t say protect the seat from Democrats or Libertarians, it lumps the Republican challengers, often more moderate than the party inner-circle, along with the evil liberal bogeymen.

The second sad political maneuver was the ridiculous new email policy (Which consists of collecting email addresses and...not allowing people to send emails.) to help the incumbents who already have mailing lists and lots of money saved up for expensive mailings. I first read about this in the Tribune’s Out of Context blog, but Kip Meacham explains everything in more detail and has links to various blogs that also wrote about the controversy. Meacham revealed the hypocrisy in the 11th hour attempt to freeze out challengers when he talked about the training he received in getting everyone’s email address. He continues the discussion here and here.

Chris Cannon sent out an email with in days that all of the county and state delegates received. The party and Cannon claim the emails came from old lists and other legitimate means, but I am proof this is false. I have never previously held any party office or been on any party mailing list and I got Cannon’s email. Admitting the mistake would make me feel a lot better than lying about it.

I was asked for my address and gave it because I wanted to be contacted by the candidates with information so I could fulfill my responsibilities as a delegate. Putting my email was optional; some caucus attendees chose not to put theirs down on the roll. I believe everyone who wrote down their email did so in the expectation that they would be contacted with relevant information. If some candidate chose to spam me, I would take that into account in my voting and could make an individual complaint to the party if I wanted.

I did not give my email address so the party could control access to it and monitor when and how many emails I opened. (Thank you Kip Meacham for researching this!! I haven’t actually seen this system or gotten the multi-candidate emails that Meacham has published in his blog. Is that because our precinct is small or only chairs get the emails?)

Republican County leadership, please step outside yourselves and try to see how this looks from those who aren’t as intimately involved with the inner-workings of the party. It reeks of gamesmanship and favoritism to avoid transparency and the will of the people. The excuses are not convincing except to those who already want to be convinced. I don’t think this is really a partisan issue either, as Democrats do the same in other states. Power corrupts and tends to cause myopic vision. So why not strive to be something different? A party that on a county or state level (I have no faith in either party ever being morally transparent—or maybe moral in general—on a national level…) strives for complete transparency and fairplay. If every candidate, delegate, and party member knew there was a level playing field, it would attract more of the huge number of Utah County residents disillusioned with party power politics. If you allowed access by those candidates who hold views that differ in some respects from the Brambles and the Lockhearts and still win, you have a more legitimate claim to the people’s approval. If more moderate candidates make some inroads (Keith Grover claims his voters fear this [See his answer to the second question]; I would say he fears it. Why not find out the truth?), doesn’t allowing the will of those voters to be heard show your faith in the Constitutional principles you fervently proclaim? Putting up barriers to those who disagree with you, regardless of the will of the people, is not good government.

1 comment:

Kip Meacham said...

Thanks for sharing the links regarding this issue. Clearly we as the Republican Party have issues to address. Shining light on the issues is how people will affect change.

There are additional posts on the issue on my personal blog at www.thewidemiddle.com.

Kip Meacham