My Caucus Experience
Today, I went to the Democratic Caucus here in Washington. It was a really great experience. The turnout for my district was amazing. There were hundreds of people coming out to be involved in democracy just in my small part of the world. Truly inspiring! This was my first caucus as in the past I had not realized that the Democratic Party largely ignores the primary results here. It seemed that there were quite a few people that were in the same situation. I have to admit I like the Caucus process. It is really so much more personal getting together and talking with your neighbors about what you think would be best for the country.
Caucuses are a messy affair, especially with large numbers of participants. However, the organizers managed to keep it running smoothly. We were scheduled to be in a middle school cafeteria but by the time to start that room was overflowing. There was some brief speeches about each candidate and then several of the precincts (mine included) moved off to other parts of the building so there was some space to talk and get to the business of the day.
When you first sign in you select the candidate you are voting for. Then there is some discussion about the candidates. People were excited and passionate on both sides of the Obama – Clinton discussion. There are a lot of people that spoke for both Obama and Clinton. Yours truly even made some of his thoughts on the matter known. The rules keep the debate short but in the end I think anyone who felt comfortable speaking their opinion to a group of over 40 people had a chance to have a say either in the slightly more formal timed speeches or the open discussion that followed. To get an idea of how much bigger this caucus was than past ones some of the people who who had been at the one in ’04 said there were about 5 people in attendance for my precinct that year.
It was interesting to see the people on both sides make a case for their candidate. The Clinton supporters were very focused on the arguments of experience along with fear of having someone with less time in government at the federal level as President in this current time of turmoil and her universal health care plan. The Obama supporters were in big on hope, electability (there were some who even expressed concerns that they would not be likely to vote for Clinton in a general election), the problems with mandating health insurance on people and the idea that Obama lines up better with the progressive goals of the Democratic party.
After the speech making and discussion there is an opportunity for people to change the candidate they are voting for. In our group there were no uncommitted people and everyone else was pretty committed to who they selected initially so the votes were tallied and delegates to the Legislative District Caucus were selected. Our group broke around 3 to 1 for Obama. It sounded like the other precincts around us had similar outcomes. The news reports are saying about 66% for Obama which seems pretty reasonable. In my precinct there were 4 delegates to the Legislative district Caucus available. I volunteered and was elected to go. So I will be there to support Obama at that event in a couple months.
I stayed around and made sure all my paperwork was good for the delegate process and went home really energized at having seen and participated in such an event.