Saturday, February 09, 2008

Democracy Is Messy and Tiring

Well, I finished my stint as a Precinct Caucus Chair (PCC) in the Washington state Democratic caucus, and man am I tired. (It didn't help that I was up since 5:30 this morn with a feverish Lil' F.) The turnout was huuuuuge -- for our precinct alone, we got 86 people, which if memory serves me is at about double the amount that turned up for the 2004 caucus. In the end, Obama won 67 votes (for 6 delegates to the next level, the district caucuses) and Clinton won 15 votes (for 2 delegates); 3 people remained uncommitted and one lone person stayed committed to Dennis Kucinich.

I was kinda nervous going into this, but happily my extroverted side came out and I was able to command my part of the room (we had three other precincts in this midsized elementary school auditorium -- really an extra-large playroom).

The way the caucus works is when you sign in, you write down your preference for President, which is essentially your vote in the caucus. However, there's time for speechifying and trying to convince your neighbors to come to your side, and then you can make a change if you wish (there's no threshold level where, say, a candidate who doesn't get 15 percent has to move to supporting another candidate; however, if you don't move, you won't have any delegates and thus no say in the process).

And that actually went fairly smoothly. However, the somewhat vague instructions for selecting delegates who would attend the next stage (the district caucus) was a bit confusing and I nearly melted down trying to explain things. I finally streamlined the process (aka, slightly subverted the official rules to wrangle the 86 people there to agreeing on how to select the delegates) and we got it done.

And after all that, I'm still a little on the fence about caucusing. On one hand, it was pretty darn exciting to see all our neighbors come out and it was fun to mingle and meet some of them that I hadn't met before. On the other hand, there were certainly some moments of chaos that could have been avoided with just a straight primary style vote. And it took time. People from our precinct were there for about 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Then again, democracy is not something that's free. We have to work for it. And to be reminded of that from time to time is a good thing.

I dunno. I need some espresso -- I'm wasted tired right now.

Go Obama!

PS - I got to lead the entire mini auditorium in the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think I've done that since my junior high years.


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