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Joining The Great American Experiment

March 22, 2016

Tonight I get to take part in an event that that has its roots over 200 years ago.

After the meeting of the Consitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked,

Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?

A republic, if you can keep it.

Thus started one of the great experiments in the history of the world. Previously governments were the source of people’s rights. The US Constitution was founded on the idea that people have inalienable rights. Rather than tell citizens what they could do, the Constitution was created to tell the government what it couldn’t do. 

Many of the details of our government have changed in the ensuing 229 years. But, the core remains the same. 

Here in Utah we have our caucus today. It’s an odd, almost anachronistic system. Tonight we will gather in small neighborhood groups and select the people who will select the people whom we will vote on to represent us. I was a state delegate last year. 

My neighbors will vie to be voted in as Chairperson of our caucus. Vice Chair, secretary and/or Treasurer, State Delegates and County Delegates. We’ll argue over how to vote. (Majority or plurality.) We’ll argue some more over how to vote. (Preference or popular vote.) After all the shouting is over, we’ll also have a presidential preference poll. It’s not a primary and it’s not exactly a traditional caucus. 

Basically, everyone will vote for a candidate and then we’ll tally the votes and report them to the state officers to report to the election committees. In a traditional caucus, you try to get people to join “your” candidate. Their will be none of that tonight. 

In one sense, my vote means nothing. There will be hundreds of thousands of people casting votes tonight. If I vote one way or another, it won’t really make any difference. And yet, our elections are like a raging river that is made up millions of individual drops. My vote, won’t make a difference, but our votes will be really important. 

While I’m running for a delegate position again the year, during the caucus, I created my own job. I convinced the Chairperson that I’d run the sound system. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to, and I can control people’s microphones. 

I will be caucusing for one party. I have very close friends who will be caucusing for the other party. The beauty of our grand experiment is that I can be passionate about my candidate and my friends can be equally passionate for a candidate on the other side. But, we can remain friends and even encourage one another to be involved.

So, whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or another party, if you live in Utah, or Arizona, or American Somoa, or Idaho (Democrats only) get out and vote. You’re a drop in the river, but the river gets its power from all of those little drops. 

As for me, look for me behind the sound board. 


Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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