Our nation was founded upon the protection of the certain unalienable rights of individuals as endowed by our Creator. The Founders recognized that the greatest threat to individual liberty was government itself, hence they ordained and established a governing document that specifically delineated both the defined role and responsibilities of government, as well as limiting its scope. That document, the U.S. Constitution, is as sound and valid today as it was on the day it was ratified. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the current state of our government. How did we end up so far astray? Though the root cause is directly attributable to the individual and societal abandonment of the biblicallybased moral principles upon which our nation was founded and under which it prospered, the mechanism enabling the corruption of government itself is our elected officials. Every unconstitutional dictate, every blind eye turned away from injustice, every act of corruption lies squarely at the feet of our politicians and, hence, at the feet of those who placed them in office. The solution to our nation’s many ongoing ills necessarily involves the selection and election of candidates who will bear true faith and allegiance to the constitutions upon which we have consented to be governed. So, how do we identify, select and elect politicians who will be faithful to their oath of office? Both primaries and conventions/ caucuses are methods that Republican and Democratic parties may use to nominate/select candidates for a local (city, county), regional (judicial district), state or federal offices in the general election. A primary is conducted in accordance with state election code with some candidate qualification criteria determined by the respective political party. In Tennessee, primaries are open to all registered voters without regard to political affiliation. The winner is determined by plurality versus majority, i.e., 50% plus one, as in many other states. Up to this point, most Republican candidates were selected via the open primary process in which nonRepublicans can and do vote. Consequently, many “Republican” candidates were elected by a minority of the voters, many of whom do not support the conservative principles set forth in the Republican Party Platform (GOP.com). It is little wonder that, once elected, they do not govern as conservatives. Many of those casting votes in the primaries are relatively uninformed voters who have never personally met, nor thoroughly researched, the candidates. This often translates into the “winners” being the candidates with the most money for “messaging” (either personally or from outside organizations), name recognition or even the dirtiest tricks. It is also often the case in primary elections that the majority of the votes are split between multiple conservative candidates with the non-conservative candidate winning by plurality. A convention/caucus is a conducted in accordance with the respective party’s bylaws and guidelines and wholly under the party’s control, and at the party’s expense (versus the taxpayer-funded primary). The rules for a caucus may vary dependent on the election (e.g., a county-level-only caucus versus the election of delegates in a judicial district caucus). Conducted properly, a caucus is a transparent process for both candidates and electors. In accordance with the Tennessee State Republican Party bylaws (TNGOP.org), participation in a caucus for both candidates and qualified electors is restricted to bona fide Republicans. Although these bylaws address precinct/delegated and mass conventions for county reorganizations, these guidelines do not directly translate to a county caucus. Instead, the state GOP chairman provides guidance. It is the responsibility of the Republican county executive committee (RCEC) to determine whether to conduct a county caucus or hold a county primary under the administration of the county election commission. If a caucus is selected, the next step is for the RCEC to determine the date on which to hold the caucus and the specific office(s) to be elected. The county administrator of elections should be consulted with respect to available election dates, voter roles, last date to register to vote, qualifying deadline dates, withdrawal deadline dates and qualifying candidate criteria and other administrative issues. But unlike a primary or general election, a caucus is not required to be conducted on a Tuesday. In addition to the above, if a primary is selected, additional constraints such as early voting period, voting locations and county funding must be considered. The county Republican chairman and secretary will send a signed letter to the state GOP chairman and the county elections administrator with the location, date and time of the caucus. It is strongly recommended that the date of the caucus follow after the candidate filing date deadline. The county chairman should ensure that candidates meet all office criteria required by the state GOP or county bylaws, Tennessee Code Annotated or other criteria, such as pre-qualifications or professional certifications (see “Qualifications for Elected Offices” at sos.tn.gov). The county election commission administrator is consulted for documents needed to pre-qualify nominees and the deadlines for each respective office. Following notification, the county election administrator must give proper public notice of the caucus. The notice must contain the location, date and time of the caucus. To ensure both candidates and electors meet the criteria for bona fide Republicans and are qualified to participate in the caucus as set forth in the state GOP bylaws, the county Republican chairman appoints a caucus contest and credential committee chairman. This person will choose committee members based on the criteria established by the bylaws (e.g., representation by district). In addition to voter history verification (i.e., have voted a minimum of three out of the last four elections as Republican), each potential candidate and elector also must meet the criteria of an “active” Republican (see TNGOP bylaws, Article IX, Section 1.C.2.). Only qualified, bona fide Republicans approved by the Republican caucus credential committee in accordance with the state GOP and county bylaws (if appropriate) may be nominated, be a candidate or vote at a caucus. Only legal residents in the respective district may be a nominee, nominate or vote for a district office. The county caucus is normally conducted by the county executive committee chairman, unless the chairman is a candidate for office in the caucus election. If the chairman is a candidate, he or she must call for an election of officials to conduct the caucus. This can be done either by ballot or acclamation. The chairman must select two clerks who shall assist in distributing, collecting and counting ballots, and shall perform such other tasks as are assigned by the chairman of the caucus. In a caucus, unlike in a primary, the electors have the opportunity to directly hear from each candidate (or the candidate’s designated representative) without regard to the size of campaign chests or outside funding. Likewise, candidates have the opportunity to directly appeal to those responsible for determining the outcome of the caucus election. The number of those participating in a Republican caucus is limited only by the bona fide criteria and level of civic commitment within the community. Though it was not always the case, there is currently a stark contrast between the Leftist/Marxist values set forth in the Democratic Party platform (democrats.org) and upheld by Democratic politicians and the conservative principles set forth in the Republican Party platform (GOP.com) — principles all too often not upheld by elected Republicans themselves. If candidates identify as Republicans, they should have no issue with adhering to the positions set forth in the Republican Party platform. They also should have no issue with being vetted and selected for the general election solely by bona fide Republican voters. Certainly non-Republicans are more than welcome to support and vote for Republicans in the general election, yet any reasonable person would agree the selection of identified Republican candidates for the general should be restricted to bona fide Republicans. If we are to return our nation to government based on the self-evident truths upon which we were founded, we must do our best to select and elect candidates who firmly uphold those truths, those values and principles. Currently, the Republican Party is the most viable political avenue for that restoration, but we must elect bona fide Republicans firmly dedicated to conservative principles for that restoration to become reality.

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