Saturday, February 09, 2008

Washington State Democratic Caucus

In Washington State, where I live (out here on the Left Coast), the Democratic Party chooses its delegates using the caucus method, where Democrats in the various voting precincts statewide meet and decide the direction that the party should take.

Delegates to the county conventions are chosen at these caucuses, and from those county conventions delegates are chosen to the various congressional districts, and from there to the national convention.

So the precinct is the most basic element of Democratic Party politics, and I am proud to say that I was an active participant in democracy at its most grassroots level.
I was at my local precinct caucus from about 11:30 (I showed up early to volunteer to help) until just about an hour ago. Talk about pandemonium!

Our facility was a retired Junior High that is now being used as the school district HQ. By 12:45 we had a full auditorium and a line snaking out the door, down the hall and around the parking lot. At one point one of the other volunteers came in and said the crowd was getting unruly, so I went out and talked to them. Although I felt like I needed a whip and a chair, I did manage to calm them down -- among other things, I used my favorite Will Rogers quote on them: "I don't belong to an organized political party; I'm a Democrat". Once you get people to laugh, it's pretty hard for them to go back to being angry.

I would guess that there were well over 1,000 people there, spread (rather unevenly) over six precincts (which was a far cry from the off-year caucus two years ago, when the same six precincts had a total of about 13 people).

Finally we split up into our respective precincts and mine (Olympia 48) in the first round was something like 32 Obama, 4 Clinton, 3 Undecided, 1 Kucinich, and 1 Richardson.

After a lobbying effort, two of the Undecideds switched over to Clinton and the Richardson came over to Obama, with the end result that out of our seven delagates to the county convention, Obama got six (of which I am one) and Clinton got one.

I was on my feet all that time, since I was simultaneously lobbying for Obama, helping people find their precinct sign-in sheet, running around putting out fires, etc., so right now I am experiencing a very weird combination of exhaustion and elation.

But it is democracy at its most basic -- and its finest -- level and it was worth every single minute of it.


jae said...

Another reason you are on the "Heroes" list....


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had fun bud :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Farns, being such a fan of Shillary, I figured you'd like this comic strip

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, jae!
And PH -- where did you get the idea that I was such a fan of Shrillary? I think I've made it pretty clear that I'm an ABC (Anybody but Clinton) Democrat.
Funny strip, though.

Anonymous said...

And PH -- where did you get the idea that I was such a fan of Shrillary?

Uh Farns... have you heard of sarcasism??? I knew you liked her as much as I do.

Anonymous said...

farnsworth -

since y'all have already done all the voting in the caucas, (good choice, btw), what is the point in sending in the ballots for the primary? Wouldn't we save a lot of money if we just dispensed with it?

Farnsworth68 said...

Yeah, I argued that point with several local Dem professionals, but it was a mistake made by the HMFICs in the state party. The Rethugs got it right: they're doing a 51-49 split for delegates.
But I wouldn't say there's no reason to vote. I sent my vote in for Kucinich anyway, and we did have a school board levy on the ballot here, so it's not totally a waste of time and money.
But it certainly wasn't handled very well. IMHO.