Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Caucus night

Super Tuesday 2008.

We live in Minnesota where delegates for presidential candidates are selected by caucus. My Mister and I went to our DFL Party precinct caucus in support of Barack Obama. It's late, but I wanted to jot down my impression of the event before turning in for the evening.

People caucusing for the Democratic candidates had the option to arrive at the appointed hour, cast their ballot for presidential candidate, and then leave. And many people did do just that. By the time we arrived they had run out of the official registration sheets, and were making due with additional pads of paper. The Chair from another precinct came by to see if we had any extra forms or pens (they were in another room of the same building), so apparently other precincts were also unprepared for the numbers of people who showed up.

We chose to remain to participate in the rest of the evening's proceedings. The room was full, so many people remained standing from just before 7:00 PM to shortly after 8:00 PM. There were people of all ages there, many of whom (like us) were caucusing for the first time. Our precinct is fairly ethnically diverse (for Minnesota) and I'm glad to say the people in the room seemed to be a decent cross section of the local population.

My Honey and I opted to become district delegates. Our precinct is allowed 30 delegates, and 32 people nominated themselves. Two of them volunteered to be alternate delegates instead, so the numbers worked themselves out such that the nominations did not need to come to a vote. So March 15th, my Honey and I will be attending the county-unit convention as precinct delegates.

In addition to choosing delegates for the county convention, resolutions were raised, debated and voted upon to be sent on for consideration in the party platform for 2008. The vote breakdown among those 141 people was:

John Edwards 1
Hillary Clinton 34
Barack Obama 106

Of the 141 people who came to vote for a presidential candidate, 50 remained behind for the rest of the event, which I understand is roughly 5 times the number who usually choose to participate in this particular precinct.

We held a straw poll among those remaining 50 people to determine how support for the candidates for Senate broke down. Those (non-binding) votes were:

Al Franken 28
Mike Ciresi 6
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer 3
Undecided 13

Among the resolutions that were voted upon there were several regarding support for affordable health care, one opposed to profiteering by corporations in industries that are part of the country's infrastructure (oil, telecom, etc.) and two on the topic of education.

Resolution-wise, the most notable, IMHO, was one stating the precinct's position against any attempt to alter the state constitution to discriminate against GLBT couples. There have been recent attempts by the conservative politicians in Minnesota to add an amendment to our constitution banning same-sex marriage, and the issue is likely to come up again with the next legislative session. They've been unsuccessful so far. And I'm happy to report that this particular resolution passed unanimously, so our opposition to such amendments has gone on record.

So as I wrap this up, Minnesota has reported results of 67% of the vote going to Obama. Hillary is still ahead in nation-wide results, but not so far ahead that it's definitely over. My Mister and I are holding out hope that when they divvy up the delegates and the Super Delegates make their commitments Obama can still pull out a win.

See more of my photos and additional comments on the caucus in my flickr photos.


comment dit-on said...

How progressive - participatory democracy that involves dialogue is so much more satisfying than the "tell us what you thinking by filling in the bubble next to the name of this candidate or that position." I'm also particularly pleased to hear that Minnesotans of good conscience are trying to put a stop to the anti-GLBT rhetoric of the right.

Pockafwye said...

@ comment dit-on: Thanks so much for taking time to participate on this topic =^)

While I do agree with you that participatory democracy has it's benefits in some ways, it also excludes a lot of people. You HAVE to be there during a very small window of time, and to participate you need to stay stay the whole time. Anyone who can't be there at that time is effectively disenfranchised In the case of the MN DFL, you can't even vote in the primary stage of the race for US Senator unless you're one of a very small number of people from your precinct (30 from ours) who becomes a delegate.

To say nothing for the fact that the process seems so esoteric that most citizens who could be there at the appointed hour are too intimidated to do so. Maybe they require lessons in how to do these things in civics classes in Minnesota? Not having grown up here, I can't speak to that. But given the ultra-low turnout relative to "primary" states, the comments I've heard from friends here, and how few people at the caucus last night seemed comfortable with their knowledge of the process, I'm assuming not.

I favor the caucus format for such things as determining your party's platform. For the actual voting process I believe primaries that allow you to show up in a bigger window of time and register your preference with a quick bubble on a ballot are the fair and empowering way to go given how our society is currently structured.

studio said...

Volunteered to be a delegate? Good for you. I went as a delegate to Richmond and enjoyed it immensely.