Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Day at the Caucuses

That was fun, maybe the most fun I've had in politics since...well, maybe ever. That being my Democratic precinct caucus, the result of which is that I am the newly elected alternate undecided delegate from Olympia Precinct 15 to the Thurston County Democratic Convention in April. Even more than that, I had a chance to meet my neighbors and seriously discuss some issues.

Here's the play-by-play, more or less. 117 Democrats participated. Veterans of previous caucuses said they had never seen such large turnout. We mostly sat around while the sign-in sheets were counted. The first round total was Obama 85, Clinton 23 and 8 undecided. That's 5 Obama delegates and 2 Clinton. Then a representative from each campaign was asked to give a one minute speech on behalf of their candidate. Someone spoke for well for Obama as an agent of change and possibility. Someone else spoke for Clinton as much more electable candidate because she can withstand the Rethuglican (my term, not his) smear machine. I spoke for the undecideds, making pretty much the same points I made in my earlier post today.

Some discussion about being undecided ensued which led to the opportunity for a woman to talk about why that's a valid vote. She gave a very, short passionate speech about the shortcomings of both candidates and the corporate control of American Life. I had some reasoned discussions with some of the many Obama people all around me. One actually tried to convince me to support Obama now rather than wait. I told him very politely why I wanted to keep the discussion open and then joined the small knot of undecideds to see what would happen.

What happened is that we ended up with enough undecideds to elect a delegate. I'm not exactly sure how the numbers worked. At first I heard we needed 16 and that didn't seem at all likely. The final tally was 13 undecideds, which was enough to give us one of Clinton's delegates. The numbers were never fully explained to me but apparently everything was done by the book so all accepted the final result.

We undecideds unanimously voted for the woman who spoke so well on our behalf. Her name is Diana and she was knitting throughout much of the event. As the group gathered, we learned that we had picked up the lone Mike Gravel supporter and enough Obama supporters who switched in order to qualify undecided for a delegate, which came at Clinton's expense. Sheer naked political calculation. Shocked! I'm shocked, I tell you!

But it worked for us. Diana asked us all about issues she should bring up as a delegate. She also said she may not remain uncommitted through the next level and was leaning Obama but told us that she would carry the issues we brought up. We all accepted that. Someone asked if I would be alternate delegate. Sure, I said.

That was it. The Thurston County Democratic Convention is 12 April. I think it will be an interesting place to be an uncommitted delegate in a tight race. Methinks Diana will be the object of much attention in the coming weeks.

The caucus was WAY more fun than just voting. It was a genuine civic experience. Not only did I meet and talk with neighbors but I also walked to the caucus site. How much more community can a body ask for? I am actually hopeful at the sight of so many people turning out, especially young people. It allows me to think that we may have a future as a nation.



Blogger Emmett said...

Awesome, glad you had a good experience. I was in Oly 48 and had about half as many people attend my precinct, but was still a very positive group.

The county convention (which if you enjoyed the caucuses, you'll love the convention) is actually April 19. Just don't lose your caucus slip!

6:44 AM  

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