This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Count My Vote (CMV) has received much publicity in the news. There are statements regarding this issue that need to have a response. Proponents of CMV want us to believe that it is a more democratic method of choosing candidates. I take strong exception to this.
When the United States Constitution was written, it created a republic, not a democracy. The founders had found through their study that a democracy was not the best form of government. In the form created by those great, studious and thoughtful men, the republic was chosen because it not only better protected the rights of the minority, but allowed the citizens to choose representatives to act in their behalf. Under a democracy, the majority choose what policies to implement. Most often a pure democracy leads to oligarchy, rule by one or a few. In other words, a dictatorship, which made the founders fearful of this form of government.
My view is that CMV is democracy, whereas the caucus/convention system that has served our state well for many years is in line with a republic.
CMV proponents also state that it gives the decision making to the all voters and not party insiders. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who attend caucuses are not party insiders but every day citizens. These citizens tend to be better informed regarding candidates and issues than the average voter. This is what motivates most of them to attend the caucus. There they elect representatives (delegates) to attend conventions where the field of candidates gets narrowed and party platforms are created to state the political party's position on important issues.
These representatives have the confidence of the people who elected them to make the decisions on candidates and issues that represent the views of those that elected them. These representatives generally prepare themselves well to make those decisions before they attend the convention.
Those who gathered petition signatures often paid individuals or used children and relatives to gather them. That does not indicate widespread acceptance of the candidate. Generally, those that win in an open election are those who have the highest name identification or the most money, given by corporations or individuals to ensure access, to purchase advertisements that do not always tell the voters what they need to know. The money also purchases professional campaign insiders, some of whom might even be lobbyists who have personal agendas. These candidates often are the real insiders who may or may not agree with the platform of the party they seek to represent.
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention met from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia. These deliberations were held in strict secrecy. Anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind the closed doors. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Answering immediately, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."
Again I remind you of the difference between a republic and a democracy. In a republic you have a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf responsible to them and governing according to law. A democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums.
The framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths" (Federalist No. 10).
Do not let us proceed further down the path toward democracy. We need to act in ways that uphold the ideals of our Constitution and make sure we remain a republic. We need to do all we can to insure that we do not lose our republic.
David Smith Monson is a former Utah state auditor (1973-77), a former Utah lieutenant governor (1977-1985) and former U. S. Representative for Utah's 2nd District (1985-87).