The chronicle of a lonely do-gooder family doctor who survived.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Washington 43rd Legislative District Caucus

Awww man. I haven't had much time to post lately. Such is life. There are constantly things happening worth writing about so hopefully I'll get more up later. I blame work but also this marathon training thing. I tell you, running 10 miles in the evening after a 12 hour day ain't easy. I am really going to enjoy having my life back in May.

I did go to the 43rd Legislative District caucus this weekend. This was an experience. The regular caucuses that everyone knows about and hears reported in the news are really just the first step in the process. At the precinct caucuses two months ago I was elected a delegate (more like no one else wanted to do it actually) to the District caucus. There, you elect delegates to the congressional district caucus who then elect delegates to the national convention. I was curious about the whole process and this year there is a great deal of interest in going to the national convention since it is likely that the Democratic nominee is going to be chosen during the convention itself.

So you show up to your district caucus and sign in for your candidate and depending on who shows up and who changed their mind, the delegates to the next level are apportioned out and then elected by each campaign. After signing in, you sit in a big hall where the District chair reads the rules. Then a supporter for each candidate gives a speech. First, Obama's speaker took the podium. Ed Murray, the long time 43rd District Senator who is openly gay gave an impassioned speech that rallied the troops. He began with "My partner and I got engaged 2 decades ago. Won't you allow us to get married?" The place erupts in a standing ovation. I fucking love Seattle.

Dennis Kucinich was still on the ballot when Washington caucused and he actually had 2 delegates (out of about 1400) so he got a speech as well. One of his delegates bravely stood up and spoke fairly eloquently for 10 minutes about the party principles that Kucinich espoused and how his campaigns have shaped the races. Awesome.

Next up, Hillary. "Hillary Clinton's representative is still in transit and will be here shortly." Um, ok. "In the meantime, does anyone have any jokes?"

A few procedural questions were fielded from the floor. Suddenly a man walks down the aisle and the crowd erupts. "While we're still waiting for the Clinton representative, we have a special guest speaker. Please welcome the Honorable Jim McDermott." The congressman from Washington's 7th congressional district is wildly popular here and he routinely is re-elected with >80% of the vote. One of the few who spoke out against the war, he had a cameo in Fahrenheit 911.

He gives a speech about the amount of work that needs to be done to get the Democrats back in the White House and to start undoing the damage done in the last 8 years. He talks about how a spirited campaign is good for the Democrats. It keeps us in the news, debating our issues on our terms. "It's because we are all different. We have a diversity of views. We think differently. That's what makes us Democrats. If we all thought the same, we'd be Republicans."

After McDermott's done, the congregation is getting restless. Motions are made to move on without the Clinton speaker. Someone shouts "We all managed to wake up and get here on time!" This looks really bad for Hillary. Motions are made to let someone else speak. Finally, an hour half after the caucus starts, Hillary's representative is here. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, from Los Angeles, Sean Astin."

You have got to be kidding me. 1400 people have been sitting here waiting for the Hillary Clinton campaign to fly in a Hollywood actor to speak for her? Don't get me wrong, Samwise is one of my favorite LOTR characters, but seriously? He proceeds to give some off-the-cuff remarks that don't really say anything about Hillary and includes small talk about his daughters and his trip up from L.A.

He's a nice enough guy, but could there be any more stark contrast between the two campaigns? I mean, a guy who really doesn't have much to say but has a ton of name recognition, flies in from 1500 miles away to speak to a crowd that is >80% Obama and includes people who have been organizing their communities and donating substantial portions of their time and money because they desperately need to believe in the future of their country. There are large numbers of people here who, for the first time in their lives, have decided to get involved in the process, neighbors who have resolved that there are things worth fighting for and a candidate who is worth their energy. And Clinton sends us an actor?

In the end, enough people either changed their vote or went from uncommitted (yes that's right, some precincts decided to send uncommitted delegates to the next level) that Obama actually picked up a delegate.

Next, the two campaigns split up to actually elect their alloted delegates. I signed up to run but their were 400 people running for 53 spots and there were some long time Obama volunteers running, armed with signs and campaign flyers (note to self: if you want to go to the next level you need to come prepared). All 400 of the people had the right to give a 30 second speech and when they decided to go alphabetically starting with the letter after my last name, I took that as a sign and happily crossed my name off the list. Did you know that it is party policy to have gender equality among the convention delegates? There were separate ballots for men and women and you had to vote for 26 of each. They also explicitly tell you to favor persons of color and persons with disabilities when you make your selection. Pretty cool.

I was really glad I went. I met a lot of interesting people and it was great to see how the process works. Would definitely attend again. Democracy is awesome and we need to make sure the forces of evil don't take it away from us.

1 comment:

Calvin Jecto said...

Nice post. Love the bit about Sean Astin. What's up with that??