Earlier this week you may have received an email in support of moving Oklahoma Republicans back to a caucus system of choosing which presidential candidate receives Oklahoma’s delegate votes to become the Republican nominee for President.
Most knowledgeable Republicans who have studied the caucus proposal being promoted feel passage would be extremely devastating to our party and could set our party back over 20 years.
The information provided in support of this change to the caucus is extremely misleading and comes from individuals whose goal is to create a system that would allow a very small, well-organized minority to manipulate the process to promote their own political agenda.
Let’s analyze each statement made in support of the Caucus.
“In 1976, 1980, and 1984 the Oklahoma GOP supported Ronald Reagan for President - through a caucus system instead of a "Presidential Preference Primary".
Ronald Reagan lost the Iowa Caucus in both 1976 and 1980. He then came back and won the New Hampshire primaries. So using that logic, if New Hampshire had a caucus Ronald Reagan may have never become President. How can we empower the grassroots to support conservative leaders like Reagan in the future? Answer: Restore the Oklahoma GOP to the Caucus System?
Back to the Reagan example. In 1976 Gerald Ford won the Iowa caucus. One week later Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire primary. In 1980 George H.W. Bush won the Iowa Caucus. The following week Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire Primary. I don’t know of anyone who would argue that Ford and Bush 41 were more conservative than Ronald Reagan.
Counties across the State, including Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, have already passed a proposal known as "Caucus OK!" that would restore the Oklahoma GOP to a caucus system, and it will soon be heard at the State Convention, Saturday, April 18. I would invite you to visit the Caucus OK website http://caucusok.org/to learn more!
While it is true the proposal was passed in a few counties it was soundly defeated 52-28 in Cleveland County, which was perhaps the only county to have a full and open debate on the issue. Cleveland County even suspended its own convention rules to allow the principal proponent of the caucus proposal to debate for the measure. It was still soundly voted down. (I was there. It was the ONLY county in which debate was allowed, and the only county where the caucus failed, even with authors of the proposal speaking in its defense.)
"An enlarged , invigorated , and empowered grassroots volunteer and donor base will result from the restoring of the caucus system."
There is no evidence that this would be the case. Iowa has been the example given to support this assertion, claiming Iowa gets more attention and activity because of their caucus. Truth is, Iowa receives attention because they are first in the process. New Hampshire receives an equal amount of attention and they have a primary. Current RNC rules do not allow Oklahoma to conduct their selection process earlier than it is currently held, either primary or caucus. Changes are currently being discussed by the RNC and will more than likely be put into effect before the 2012 elections.
"A caucus system is a nomination process that truly reflects a consensus of the Party grassroots."
Again, there is no evidence to support this claim. In 2008 over 345,000 Oklahoma Republicans turned out to vote in the Republican Presidential Primary. If the proposed caucus were to be approved we would be telling those Republicans that we didn’t care about their opinion and that their votes didn’t matter.
"Moving to a caucus system will increase fundraising opportunities for the Party."
The change as proposed would not generate additional revenues; in fact, it would be extremely costly to the Oklahoma Republican Party, as it requires the party to furnish ballots, including absentee ballots, to all Republicans at no cost. The OKGOP would also be responsible for conducting the voting process, including having to verify whether those showing up or mailing in ballots were indeed eligible to vote.
"Moving to a caucus system will save Oklahoma tax-payer dollars (up to $3 million)."
This is not true, as the change to the caucus does not eliminate the primary. The Democrat party will still conduct their voting via a primary. It does not change the law.
"Moving to a caucus system will increase Oklahoma's influence and attention in the national election process."
Since 1988 when Oklahoma moved from the caucus to the Primary, Republicans held 32 seats in the Oklahoma House; we now hold 61. In 1988 Republicans held 15 seats in the Oklahoma Senate; we now hold 26. All in all, Oklahoma Republicans have done quite well under the current system.
The truth is a caucus system would empower a few influential activists who believe they know better than the general population what Oklahoma needs. A caucus system would establish an oligarchy which is a form of government where power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society- aka Political Pharisees. That is never good and goes completely against the principles of the U.S. Constitition which is inclusive and protects us from the establishment of an oligarchy.
Oklahoma Republican activists should be about the business of educating Oklahoma voters and encouraging more conservatives to become involved in the process. Moving to a caucus system would be a step backward in Oklahoma. We have accomplished too much with a Presidential Primary! While not a perfect system, it is infinitely better than moving back to a Caucus system. Vote No at the State Convention!