Monday, January 21, 2008

Caucus: More Than Just a Funny Word

How many people stomped out of your caucus because of disorganization? At my Democratic caucus, we lost three (3) Obama supporters who just couldn’t take it anymore. According to the news reports I’ve heard and read, a fair number of people from both parties found the process frustrating, poorly planned, and chaotic.

I would have stayed all day, if necessary, to make sure my vote was counted. I insisted that the attention-impaired, patience-challenged people who came with me had entertainment. I got there early to get a seat, and I made sure that I found the bottled water supplies early on. The Boy Scouts are really onto something with that whole “Be Prepared” thing, you know.

Because even the Democrats didn’t believe their own party’s optimistic predictions for voter turn-out, we ran out of everything – chairs, preference cards, patience. Two precincts were squashed into one room, and just hearing the instructions about what to do was difficult. Then, as we were getting ready to split into our little groups, the leader of our precinct announced: “Obviously, everyone here is probably for Obama or Clinton,” which caused the ten of us who were supporting either Edwards or Kucinich to shout at the curly-headed, soft-spoken woman. We found she liked the word “obviously,” as in “obviously, we have way more people than we thought, so, obviously, we’re running out of things.” Obviously.

While I was hopeful that Edwards would make a strong showing, or even come from behind to win a dark horse victory, I have to say that his dismal numbers (at least at my caucus) might have been a reflection on the fact that no one from the Edwards Campaign (or Kucinich’s, for that matter) was there to rally supporters. Five of us initially supported Edwards, but quickly walked over to the Obama side when our group was pronounced “unviable.”

The Obama people were fired up after they gained most of the Edwards/Kucinich supporters. “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” chanted our group. The Hillary supporters, by contrast, put me in mind of a phrase sometimes used by the enthusiastically religious to describe sedate church-goers: The Frozen Chosen. After more counts and re-counts than I can recall, the precinct went to Obama by six (6) votes.

Personally, I liked the caucus experience. I enjoyed seeing my neighbors (it’s always refreshing to find out you’re not the lone Democrat). But while I appreciated the chance to “re-align” my support to a viable candidate, I have to wonder if Edwards would have made a better showing in a regular primary.

Only one thing made me uncomfortable at the caucus: an attempt to pass the hat, so to speak, to raise money for the Democratic Party. Sorry, folks, but that was a real turn-off. I understand that donations are needed, but please don’t ask me for money at the same time I’m voting. It looks bad, no matter how you spin it.

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