Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Caucus: America's Lowest Form of Democracy

It's hard to take seriously a form of voting that resembles an elementary school field day.

So last Saturday I went to my local senate-district caucus convention. It was half incredibly boring and half completely ridiculous. I loved it. But I have to throw this out there: CAUCUSING IS THE STUPIDEST WAY TO VOTE EVER. The day began quite early for a Saturday (Roommate A and I left the house at 8:30, ew), and when we arrived at Humboldt High School, we stood in a very long line to register with everyone else who hadn't bothered to show up earlier. (I got a nametag! On a piece of yarn!) My roommate was corralled into some sort of strategy discussion with some other Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer supporters and I found us seats with our other precinct delegates. Now, let me tell you a little story about the Humboldt High School auditorium: the stairs are TREACHEROUS. They are all different sizes. This seems to be by design. WTF? I watched as some woman tripped and fell down a bunch of stairs. They had to call an ambulance. I hope she's okay. She was moving around and stuff, so she's not paralyzed, but she didn't even get to caucus. Fuck you, Humboldt architects. A great way to start the day.

Moving on, the caucus started about an hour or so late. SHOCK. We had to like, ratify the rules and agenda before we could do anything. But before that, we did the Pledge of Allegiance, which I haven't done since, god I don't know when. I hate America almost as much as Barack Obama. (I also do not wear a flag lapel pin. I generally don't have lapels, but I'm still trying to make a statement.) Anyway, lots of people nominating themselves for various local party positions and blah blah blah. Roommate A and I shared the one pen she actually thought to bring and went through all the platform resolutions, voting on whether or not to forward them to the state convention. There were over a hundred. Some of them were good, like the ones about ending the war. Others were vaguely offensive, as in: "Men should stop being forced to pay child support for children that are not their own." I mean, that seems basically reasonable, but I've spent enough time on the internets to see a Men's Rights Activist's fingerprints all over that shit. So I voted no. Maybe I should've waited around to hear people read their statements explaining the resolutions. But I was so not going to stay later than I absolutely had to.

But so there were a few more hours of motions and seconding and saying, "yea" to close nominations and such. I enjoyed observing our hot, young city council member with his adorable small children, because I'm a creep like that. But in the meantime, there were speakers! There were state politicians, but I don't care about those people. I was excited about Betty McCollum, who is fucking awesome, and about the candidates for Senate. Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer both spoke in the morning. Ciresi was blah. Nelson-Pallmeyer was actually pretty good, and I could see why all the hippie types were working for his campaign. But I have a special place in my heart for Al Franken. I was afraid he wouldn't show, but he came right before we split up to sub-caucus. (Strategery much?) He is so short and adorable and funny and I kind of have a crush on him. (THOSE GLASSES!) And he jumped off the stage and almost tripped on a microphone wire. It was great. The crowd was very enthusiastic. Then he came into the audience and he was like six feet away from me at some point, but I am very awkward and shy and couldn't work up the nerve to ask him for a picture/chat with him. But I could have, had I not sucked so much.

Then it was time to do the ol' Sub-caucus Walk-us. OMG ridiculous. I don't know if this is what Thomas Jefferson et al had in mind for our representative democracy (setting aside all the women and black people that were there, of course), but have I mentioned that it is THE STUPIDEST WAY TO VOTE EVER? 'Cause it is. But it was kind of fun. I managed to find a Franken sub-caucus that wasn't also an Obama group (remember how I'm kind of on Team Hillary now? Go Texas and Ohio!) The only Clinton sub-caucuses were uncommitted for Senate, and I really wanted to support Al, so I went for Al Franken/Universal Health Care. I couldn't argue with that. Our sub-caucus was viable, so I didn't have to walk again. During the second walk, though, all the Franken staffers were trying to do mathematical calculations to figure out how to win remainder delegates or whatever. We kept having to shift a few people between Franken sub-caucuses. It was ridiculous. Again, kind of fun, but I really didn't feel like I was VOTING or anything. It felt like a game. But Al won the most delegates to the state convention, so huzzah!

Anyway, that is far more than anyone ever wanted to know about my experience at the caucus. I'm glad I did it, if for no other reason than blog fodder. I might have actually nominated myself for some local party position if I planned on still living in Minnesota six months from now. Oh, well. Mostly, the lesson is this: caucusing is the least-straightforward, most silly way to hold a primary. God bless the Minnesota DFL and my six hours of participatory democracy on a Saturday!

STILL TO COME: I write to Al Franken's campaign to tell him all the things I didn't say when I had the chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment