Posted by: Barry Bickmore | May 12, 2010

Do Wackos Control the Utah Republican Party?

I’m a Republican myself, but I have to admit that the local branch of the party is a bit over the edge.

This week the Republican state convention in Utah voted on who would represent the party in the next U.S. Senate race.  The incumbent, Bob Bennett, was elected to the Senate in 1992, but he came in a distant third in the convention vote.  Polls prior to the convention indicated that he was losing among convention delegates, but that he would likely have won among Republican voters.  Obviously, there is a disconnect between Utah Republicans and state delegates for the party.  What is its origin?

Instead of a primary runoff system that would let voters decide whom to put forward as their party’s candidate, Utah uses a bizarre caucus system.  Basically, a caucus night is chosen, and members of the party are supposed to show up to the caucus meeting for their voting precinct.  At the meeting people volunteer to be delegates to the state and county conventions, and those present vote on whom to send.  The problem is that only a tiny fraction of the registered voters ever show up to their caucus meetings.  Who does show up?  Well, there will always be a few people who are just politically involved citizens, but in large part the people who show up are the ones that are REALLY PASSIONATE about their politics–which usually equates with people who lean far to the left (for Democrats) or far to the right (for Republicans).  If you want to be elected as a delegate, all you have to do is get 10 or so of your buddies from the Eagle Forum or the John Birch Society to show up, and you’re a shoe-in.

This year, the people who showed up in droves to the caucuses were involved in the Tea Party movement.  Now, it wouldn’t be fair to call people “wackos” just because they belong to some ultraconservative political movement, but my point is that this year there were even more REALLY PASSIONATE people at the Republican caucuses than usual.  Consider my experience as a Republican county delegate during the last election cycle.

In 2008 I went to my caucus meeting and was elected as a delegate to the Utah County Republican Convention.  Going into the convention I was expecting that the delegates would be, on average, farther to the right than the typical Republican party member, but what I experienced there left my jaw dragging on the floor for a month.

As I walked into the convention at Canyon View Jr. High, I was handed a number of flyers and pamphlets by enthusiastic volunteers.  One of the flyers caught my eye immediately.  It was a resolution being proposed by a delegate from Springville, Don Larson, and it was called, “Resolution Opposing the Hate America Anti-Christian Open Borders Cabal”.  Yes folks, we were slated to vote on whether the Utah County GOP should adopt an official statement about an alleged giant conspiracy to open our borders and destroy our liberty.  Click here to see a PDF version of this resolution archived on the Utah GOP website.  I have reproduced the entire text below just in case the PDF gets taken down at some point.  Click here to see a Deseret News article about the incident.

Resolution opposing the hate America anti-Christian open borders cabal

Whereas, the hate-American “open borders” cabal emerged from the radicalism of the 1960s and matured in the fight over amnesty for illegal aliens in the 1980s. It gained mainstream status in the 1990s as the “globalization” and “multilateralism” fads of the decade encouraged talk of a “world without borders” and the decline or demise of the nation-state.  At the center of the movement is the Ford Foundation, the largest tax-exempt foundation in the world and one guided by the radical left new world order elite.

Whereas, the Ford Foundation embraces the New Left’s assault on the American society. It has been revealed that the Ford Foundation has granted millions of tax-exempt dollars to terrorist support groups and other radical organizations in the Middle East

Whereas, the concept of open borders and the destruction of America has long been the agenda of the radical left. Since the 1960s, a vast network including many organizations and tens of thousands of grassroots activists, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars from left wing foundations has waged a sustained campaign to open American’s borders to mass migration from the Third World and the inundation of America.

Whereas, the campaign to radically change American values and culture through mass immigration and the political mobilization of the alienated presents a danger to the country that parallels the anti-American of the Islamic jihad. The demographic shifts caused by unregulated mass immigration can have adverse impacts on national stability that rival or surpass the effects of war.

Whereas, traditionals and patriots throughout our country watch in nearly impotent dismay as the godless globalist elites destroy our heritage leaving us without memory of our past and with little hope for our children’s future. Our globlist elites subvert every tradition and ethic that elevates men above beasts. In the United States of America an arrogant godless white elite champions globalization.

Wherefore, there are few issues so important to the life of a nation as the integrity of its borders and the nature of its citizenship. These are issues that define its identity and shape its future. When a nation is under invasion, its ability to regulate its borders is a security matter of survival. It is estimated that up to 2 million illegal aliens simply walked across the U.S. – Mexican border last year bringing in dangerous diseases, drugs ( 90 percent of our drugs come from Mexico), gangs, a corrupt Third World culture, terrorists, and more .

Now therefore, we oppose the evils designs of the hate America anti-Christian open borders cabal and support the Constitutional mandate to protect and secure our national borders as required by our Utah State Republican Platform. We also support the National Republican Platform in opposing amnesty for illegal aliens.

I read that and thought, “Surely very few delegates would be loony enough to support something like this!”

About 800 delegates showed up to the convention, and most of the time was spent in district meetings and voting for candidates for particular offices.  After the voting, maybe 200 or so delegates left, and the last item of business was to listen to arguments about the proposed resolution, and vote on it.  Don Larson got up and gave a speech about how if we were to give amnesty to all the illegal aliens, they would almost all become Democrats, destroying the Republican party, and hence America.  What’s more, he talked about how “certain races” have a much higher incidence of “illegitimate births,” and people born out of wedlock are much more likely to “vote Democrat”.  I’m not kidding.

To our credit, some of the delegates got up and gave compelling reasons not to vote for the resolution.  E.g., they argued the resolution was a piece of offensive, racist crap.  We did a voice vote, and the chair said the “Nays” had it, but someone demanded a vote by show of hands.  It still turned out that the resolution was voted down, but I estimate that fully a THIRD of those present voted for it.  That’s a quarter of the delegates that showed up at all that day.

That’s a little factoid that the press never reported.  Another is that Don Larson was elected that day to the State Central Committee for the GOP.

My point is that even before the “Tea Party” movement existed, some very extreme people were vastly overrepresented among the GOP delegates in Utah County, and I suspect it’s the same story in many parts of the state.  The editors of the Daily Herald argued,

The delegates are the kind of people the conventional wisdom usually extols: concerned, committed citizens who spend time thinking about the issues and candidates. So suddenly they’re wacko? Don’t buy it.

Sorry Randy and Jim, but I’ve been there.

Is it any wonder, then, that conspiracy theorists like Mike Noel (R-Kanab) and Kerry Gibson (R-Ogden) can get elected and push their agendas through the Utah Legislature with barely any opposition?

If you’re living in Utah and wondering how the politics got so extreme, look no further.  It is critical that the normal people band together and abolish the caucus system.



  1. Has the voice of the Utah Republican party spoken loud and clear?

    Thank heaven, yes!

  2. Open primaries with balanced districts would force candidates to advocate for, and support, centrist positions. Caucuses and gerrymandered districts virtually ensure not only wacko candidates, but wacko office holders.

    What is the history of the caucus system Utah? How did we get stuck with it?

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