Democracy — a lengthy process

Thousands turn out at their neighborhood caucus meeting around Utah Thursday, March 15, 2012.

By Megan Wallgren
For the Deseret News

My neighborhood caucus was long and tedious, but got the job done.

I went to my precinct Republican caucus meeting Thursday for two reasons: First, to save the party from extremists, and, second, encouragement (guilt) from all the signs, mailers, and letters from the pulpit that have bombarded me for the past month.

It was my first caucus as an adult. As a child, I remember one year when my parents hosted about a dozen people in our living room. It took about less than an hour to choose who in the room would become a state delegate and who would become a county delegate.

It took the 132 of us gathered at Lehi High School more than four hours to choose our delegates.

The other precincts in the building had long left. I think I may defect to a more efficient district sometime in the next two years.

The numbers dwindled steadily throughout the night. Most were not expecting such a long haul. But getting 132 (then 117, then 105, then 99 …) people to agree on someone with a clear majority is a tedious process.

I thought about leaving several times, but I really wanted to get someone with some moderate ideas to represent me and it took sticking through several rounds of voting.

The big concerns in my precinct seemed to be whether or not someone would vote for Orrin Hatch, Gary Herbert, and who would they choose for president. I didn’t see the point of this question. Anyone in that room would vote for my dog over Barack Obama and the delegates we elected have no say in the Republican Presidential Primary.

After my first caucus I’m not enamored with the system. I had to vote to give someone my say after hearing only a minute’s worth of their views. Those who bring a lot of friends can easily guarantee themselves a spot.

I would prefer a primary where your vote is not subject to time constraints, quick decisions, and who has the biggest posse. At the end, I think some were voting for certain delegates out of weariness, not conviction.

I’ll be back in two years though, I’m hooked on being heard.

Megan Wallgren is a freelance writer and has been covering Utah news for over a decade. Contact her at megwallgren@gmail.com

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