OPINION – Utah voters aren’t stupid. But many of them would be shocked to understand just how easily they are manipulated by political advertising. This fact is not lost on those who lust the most for political power.
The growing battle over whether or not to discard the caucus system in favor of a direct primary is a question that will likely be placed before the voters. But the motives of the power brokers behind the Count My Vote initiative are not based in empowering the people. They are about consolidating and maintaining political power by swaying the masses through emotion.
The vulnerability of the masses to the slickest political marketing is not a recent phenomenon. It’s the product of many generations of voters being progressively schooled in a manner that downplays the indispensable importance of learning how to think critically.
It’s also a danger that was addressed more than 60 years ago by then president of the University of Chicago Robert M. Hutchins. In his preface to the Great Conversation volume of the Great Books of Western Civilization, Hutchins wrote:
“A prevalent notion is that the great mass of the people cannot understand and cannot form an independent judgment upon any matter; they cannot be educated, in the sense of developing their intellectual powers, but they can be bamboozled.”
“The reiteration of slogans, the distortion of the news, the great storm of propaganda that beats upon the citizen twenty-four hours a day all his life long mean either that democracy must fall a prey to the loudest and most persistent propagandists or that the people must save themselves by strengthening their minds so that they can appraise the issues for themselves.”
The special interest backers of the Count My Vote initiative have very deep pockets and that buys them access to the very best propagandists available.
They understand that the masses are much easier to bamboozle than the delegates who are selected through the caucus system. Holding political leaders accountable is not something the masses are known for doing. But the delegates selected at neighborhood caucuses are specifically charged with vetting those leaders and potential candidates before placing them on the ballot.
It’s a system that has proven to work. The biggest requirement on the part of the average citizen is to show up for the caucuses every two years and be willing to participate.
Low voter turnout is not evidence of a faulty caucus system; it is an indictment of the lack of civic commitment on the part of voters. Too many voters mistakenly believe that simply showing up and voting on Election Day is the highest use of their individual franchise. But if they are poorly informed, they are susceptible to the marketing machinations of the most highly paid political hit men.
Iron County Commissioner David Miller rightly points out that the key question in this matter is, “How is public perception swayed?”
“It is by the media and it takes extreme amounts of money to run a campaign for state and federal office through the media,” Miller said. “Under the caucus/convention system currently in place the candidates have to answer to delegates who are ‘the interview panel’ in the initial round at a convention where the delegates will not tolerate unaccountability.”
The power elite recognize that having well-informed citizens, chosen as delegates by neighbors who trust them, places real accountability on every elected leader. If a particular leader is failing to adequately represent the people, other more capable candidates can be selected by the delegates and placed on the ballot.
Few people have worked as hard to show the value of the caucus system as Iron County GOP chairman Blake Cozzens. He has produced an excellent video that explains the virtues of the caucus system over the direct primary being pushed by well-heeled political cronies.
Cozzens states, “The caucus system is being threatened by power brokers and millions of dollars, only grassroots can save it, many in Utah could care less about politics but yet still desire good governance, this is exactly what the caucus system delivers them.”
It’s essential that each of us become well informed on this issue and rejects the calls of those who insist that our caucus system is broken.
The voice of the people being heard on Election Day is not in question; it’s the matter of whether or not we’re being misinformed by the power brokers.
- The WAY I see it: Utah politics are the new ‘Chicago politics’
- Wright Leaning: Saving Utah’s caucus system
- Perspectives: Tricking voters into giving up their voice
- Power of the people in the power of the caucus
- Caucus system gives Republicans a bigger voice in elections
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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