Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Caucus Thoughts

Four years ago our senate district had the largest caucus turnout ever, with over 800 participating. Dems were jubilant to see so many waking up and getting involved. Last night at the same building there were nearly 3000 in attendance. Cars were backed up trying to get into the parking lot; the line of people waiting to get in snaked out through the parking lot; the presidential balloting had to be held open an extra fifteen minutes; we ran out of ballots for the presidential preference vote, and had to print more. It was an exhilarating experience.

The vast majority of those in my precinct were first-time caucus-goers. It was a bit chaotic but fun leading them through the process. The resolution process in particular was crazy. In the DFL process the party platform is a grassroots effort; everyone attending caucuses has an opportunity to suggest resolutions, and if they are passed they go on to the County Unit conventions for further voting and then possibly on to the state convention. Some folks present represented groups, like a nursing association, that had resolutions ready on healthcare. Others came on the fly from the floor. Our most contentious resolution came from an insurance agent who wanted to cut off workers comp payments to illegal immigrants. He may have had some good points to make in terms of the way the system is (not) working, but he didn't have a chance in this crowd.

In the presidential preference ballot my precinct voted 2-1 for Obama over Hillary. The final Senate District vote was 1899 to 978 for Obama, helping Obama take MN.

I thought it was interesting that the Republicans bucked the nationwide trend and picked Romney over McCain. It appears that our Republicans may be more conservative than the national average. It is also safe to say that our Dems are more liberal, so we have a strongly divided house.

As much as I enjoy the caucus process, I think it is a bad system. We need a primary. Caucusing discourages participation. Only the most committed show up. Only those who can vote in a very narrow window of time get to vote. I received an email from an unhappy member of my Senate District last night saying they sat in line on County Road 42 waiting to turn onto Hayes Road towards the High School and then finally gave up and went home. I wonder how many others had the same experience. So as fun as the evening was for me, the caucus system is no way to run an election process.

1 comment:

ProgressiveChurchlady said...

My spouse (and kids) gave up and turned around because they had other things to do and didn't want to wait that long. I also got an e-mail from another friend who said to me, "I long for the Pennsylvania primary of my past!" and signed her e-mail Frustrated in Apple Valley.