Warning this is political. I am not planning to talk about issues but against caucus’.
Here in Idaho the Democratic Party has had a Caucus every four years. I have participated in the caucus every four years… This year the Idaho Republican party decided to emulate us and have a caucus too…. I think they are afraid that we Democrats go to our caucus then go vote in the Republican primary….. Today I have been thinking about the caucus… I really do not like the party caucus…
First I will describe it for all you primary goers….
The caucus at best is going to take 2 to 3 hours of your life…. Our caucus is always in the evening. Every county in Idaho has its own separate caucus. Because my county is divided into two Congressional districts we sit with our own district… We all listen to representatives of the presidential candidates… They are always representatives because presidential candidates don’t often come to Idaho and certainly not to our caucus. To the Presidents credit he did come a few days before our caucus and energized the voters. Historically our caucus our is poorly attended… Usually around 1000 people….That means most of us Democrats stay home because it is inconvenient, boring, etc…. So the speeches are done…. We cast our first vote…. Any candidate in Idaho who gets less then 15% of the vote in the room gets no delegates to our state convention and is eliminated for the second round. We next go to the second round…. Many people jump ship to a more popular candidate… This is especially important if you are backing a losing candidate and want to go to the state convention as a delegate….While we are waiting party officials and candidates for lower offices give speeches. Doesn’t this sound like fun? I do not like the party caucus…
OK…That is over….Many people leave but the most important work is yet to happen… The most important part of this political animal is selecting delegates to represent the candidates at the Democratic State Convention…. Those politicos who are still in the room (less then 10% of the caucus attendees) break up into candidate groups…Including the people for the great candidate uncommitted (which can also be eliminated if the uncommitted get 15% in the first round). People who want to be delegate put their name up for nomination… Then the group decides if there will be speeches or not. I have seen 5 minutes speeches and I have seen people introduce themselves. The vote happens the delegates are elected….Everyone goes home… So the caucus is attended by maybe 5 % of the people who identify themselves as Democrats…. The delegate were elected by 10% of those….One of the reasons I do not like the party caucus….
That describes the normal year…..In 2008 one Presidential candidate did work the caucus system in Republican states like Idaho. He is now President and it was this strategy that led to President Obama’s nomination over Senator Hillary Clinton. He energized our party and our caucus by coming to our great State three days before the caucus. The Ada county caucus in Boise Idaho was packed! It was a very cold day and the line to get in stretched blocks… There was no allowances for the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, those with small children….. We were all in line….I had never seen such a thing…. My family arrived around 1/2 hour before starting time… We did not make it in…. The fire Marshall closed the doors…If you do not make it in you could only vote in the first pass… You couldn’t participate further…. My oldest son and I waited for over an hour to get in (once they closed the doors) we wanted to stand as delegates…. My son was interviewed on the TV. I might have been too. I knew party officials and tried to send word that we were locked outside. Eventually the 20 or so of us still standing were let in. I really do not like the party caucus….
The caucus is skewed in favor of political activists not the average likely voter… There are no absentee ballots…It is skewed against the old, rural, military, the sick, people with young children …One could even argue that the 2008 caucus was skewed against party regulars who figured it would be business as usual…My son Jesse will not be a participant in the Democratic caucus because he is residing in China. There is no absentee voting…. One could argue it is also skewed against the poor because the buses don’t run past 7 PM in Boise…..I really do not like the party caucus…
Finally a personal story about my father a noted Republican did in fact attend our caucus in 2004 because my mother was very ill and we are divided into Congressional districts. That meant I could not sit with my dying mother and participate. She insisted on going even though she was so ill and just out of the hospital.. My father to his credit went with her…. It would have been much easier for my mother to cast an absentee ballot in a primary…. I am proud of my mother for standing up for what she believed in and I am proud my father stood by her to take care of her. Another reason I really do not like the party caucus..
So I stand in awe as the Republicans of Idaho finally emulate the Democrats…. They chose to run a caucus too… Oh what fun….
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