NOTE: This article is part of a series on the Colorado GOP process from the caucuses onward.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — I recently participated in my first caucus. I thought, “What the hell? I’d like to see David Kelly, candidate for El Paso County Treasurer in Colorado, get the nomination.” The only way to get that to happen is for him to get enough delegates. So I went on down to my local caucus thinking I’ll put my name in, speak my piece, and at a minimum I can make people aware of a County Treasurer sure to expose where every single tax dollar goes.
To this, I have to say mission accomplished. People were favorable to the idea of a completely audited funds dispersal process, and though I did not get a delegation seat, I got information on an often unimportant seat as well as the opportunity to get these members to think.
When I walked in I knew I had little hope of winning.
See, I live in a small community of more than 600 registered Republicans and only 28 showed up, most of whom knew each other. I gave my name to the lady at the desk. She verified I was registered and had me put on a name tag that said Voter, because apparently I was no longer Chad.
I had a seat and watched the group. I sat patiently and sipped my iced tea. On observation of the crowd, I saw a small group huddling together, about 4 couples. It was clear to any one capable of observing that these people were in collusion. I knew this doubled the task of getting a delegation seat, as they clearly knew the other people in the room.
Once the meeting began, they started the nominations for 5 delegate seats and 5 alternates for the County convention. This is my first inclination that this system is sick. The group I was watching huddle earlier began to nominate each other for delegation, husbands nominating wives, wives nominating husbands, and the collusion nominating between each other. That, for the record, is called a conspiracy, and that’s corrupt.
After the nomination they were going to move on to the voting, but luckily a couple of people demanded those individuals running to give their positions. It’s unsettling that the Chairs did not say “We see there are new faces and new names on the board so let’s hear from them before the vote.” That should be protocol. That would make sense.
During this process, several times I heard people say, “Well, they say you can’t complain if you weren’t involved” and similar comments. We all said our piece. Then the collusion turned out to be more than that. They were a syndicate: Two former and one active employee for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
They were quite adamant about needing someone with a police background in that position—as Colorado Sheriffs are at the frontlines of the assault on gun rights—and according to some in the meeting the syndicate had a chip on their shoulders about being laid off and the way a civilian was running the department. They all were for Bill Elder who was a Deputy Chief of police.
The voting commenced, the delegates were chosen, and the seats all went to the Elder supporters. Some others, including the syndicate, were in the seats for the alternates. Which might I add, you have to pay to be a part of… nothing wrong with that! /sarcasm
Next we needed to pick two Congressional and Senate (State Convention) delegates, one delegate and one alternate. This is another flaw in the process, and a lack of virtue in the party. Only the delegates who won could go to the State Convention. To assure a better check-and-balance, they should only be allowed to be alternates for the State Convention. If there are enough participants leftover from the nominations they should be the only ones voted on for the State Convention delegation.
Instead the attendees moved to let the delegates who won decide among themselves who would go to the State Convection to save time. None of the alternates (of which I was not, otherwise I would have) resisted the motion, so it was carried.
I left highly concerned about what I saw. Without virtue People who participate without understanding their first job is looking out for the individual’s natural rights (including non-participation), virtuous delegates, and candidates, regardless of their personal want and support, causes destruction to any check-and-balance. This, coupled with a mentality of righteousness in acting within the “process”, grows to a point of personal ego and arrogance for what you did, over the rights of the individual to confront and refuse the decision of those in the “process” or the decision of the delegates.
The Founders told us in order for this process to work, we’d need virtuous men. So what is virtue?
Virtue is defined in Merriam-Webster’s as:
1: morally good behavior or character
2: a good and moral quality
Moral is defined as:
1: concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior
2: a lesson that is learned from a story or an experience
The Founders to me seemed pretty damn clear that morals are important to a man in his interaction, and virtue is those morals being carried out without restricting, or infringing on another man’s morals.
In America at the time of the founding, the Enlightenment was preeminent among the people. It was almost a fact of existence to minimize your impact on another, and the laws which didn’t do this were seen as unjust and illegal to the natural rights of man. Samuel Adams has some of the greatest line on this.
“The primary, absolute, Natural Rights of Englishmen as frequently declared in Acts of Parliament from Magna Charta to this Day, are Personal Security, Personal Liberty and Private Property…” Sam Adams 1765
By the definition of a moral this is an experience learned over time, and apparently forgotten in recent times. This is definitely the case in the caucuses where the first duty of the participants is the assurance of these three facts, which by definition of moral is what is right concerning human behavior. This is important because:
“The order of nature [is] that individual happiness shall be inseparable from the practice of virtue.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. Correa de Serra 1814
So, virtue is adhering to the Natural Rights of the individual first. Regardless of who you want, your first duty is to find the most virtuous man for the job.
Current mentality only assures that wrong candidates will be picked, backed, and then defended to the death, guaranteeing distain and grudges against those who did not approve of the “processes” outcome.
As with Maes vs. Tancredo for the 2010 Governor race, the delegates that picked Maes still cannot accept that Tancredo went outside of the process and became a delegate. Yet, not only is that his right as a citizen (illegal written laws be damned) but he got 35% of the vote. So the process failed those 35% who did not want the candidate who the delegate choose. Is that not their right?
He’s outside the process again, but if they pick the right candidate he goes away. Pick the wrong one and he runs. So, you better learn your lesson from the Maes debacle, or you’ll lose again.
The lack of understanding that those who did not engage in the caucus have every right to hate the caucus choice, refuse it, and challenge it by putting forth their own candidate AT ANY POINT is UNREPUBLICAN, tantamount to tyranny, and is completely devoid of VIRTUE.
If our caucus participants have no virtue, and act in self-interest, than the acts they take will endanger the individual and the whole.
As mentioned before, the most concerning group of voters was a syndicate of former Sheriff employees. Their goal of getting a Sheriff with “Police experience” isn’t necessarily in the best interest of assuring the individual’s happiness. It especially isn’t showing any willingness to look for the most open minded delegates and is an easy access to infiltrating corruption.
The mindset of the 28 participants at my caucus thinking that if they pick someone, that the 600, or even just 200, others who didn’t get involved have to accept their choice isn’t a system of or for freedom.
“Well, they say you can’t complain if you weren’t involved”. This is the largest example of the lack of virtue you will hear in the process. I agreed if you don’t get involved you don’t have a say, and probably shouldn’t complain. But my choice to not involve myself is not consent or agreement to your activity. Therefore, you can only proceed with your activity over those who did participate. Otherwise, you’re acting as though your group, system, and ideology owns the non-participant, and that’s tyrannical slavery.
Recognizing you have no authority over those not participating IS the virtue.