Wes and I went to our very first caucus (presidential or otherwise) yesterday. Neither of us had any idea what to expect but we were told it was important so we showed up ready for anything. It’s funny how during election season you hear terms thrown around like “caucus” and “primary” but it’s so frigging difficult to find out what those things are!
We felt it was important to attend the caucus because apparently our state’s primary is not very important in the national scheme of things. The real impact we can make for our candidate is at the caucus by becoming delegates so that’s what we did.
From what I gathered, every voting district (each city is broken into voting districts) calls together a “community caucus” for each party. At this caucus, people from the various subdivisions of the voting districts meet as a group (think of it as having a neighborhood meeting) and nominate delegates.
These delegates go on to the district caucus. If they are nominated again, they go on to the state caucus. If they are nominated yet again they get to go to the national caucus, also known as the Democratic or Republican national convention.
Wes and I were the only ones who showed up from our neighborhood so we nominated each other to be delegates. This picture you see below is us at the caucus after we realized that we were the only ones from our neighborhood. The number placard you see denotates our district (45) and our neighborhood (3387). The caucus took place at a local elementary school (is it just me or do all elementary schools smell the same?) and it was very full. Regrettably we were among the youngest 5% of people there. I noticed that quite a few of the older attenders seemed very happy to see us and that felt nice.
Basically, after the initial welcome to the group as a whole everyone broke off into their neighborhood groups. The purpose of the group was to elect a precinct community officer (PCO) and delegates to go to the district caucus. Each neighborhood was allowed a certain number of delegates and alternates depending on the size of said neighborhood.
A separate task of the caucus was to help the party know which issues were important. Wes and I filled out the forms asking us which issues were most important to us during the upcoming election. I guess our input will help our party formulate the party’s campaign.
The whole process took two hours but it was well worth it. Sure, we talked politics with strangers (which always feels a little illicit to me) and sat in a noisy room in uncomfortable chairs for two hours of a precious Saturday but it feels good to know that we are taking an active part in our nation’s future.
If we are nominated to attend the state caucus and the national caucus after that it will be an amazing experience. I honestly can’t fathom being present at the national convention. I dearly hope that our effort was not wasted. It’s unlikely that our candidate will be elected but if by showing up yesterday we’ve kept his statements in the headlines a little longer we will consider it a job well done.
It’s been said of Generation Y (Wes and I’s generation) that we are very motivated and active in politics as long as it’s convenient. We are known for being Internet activists, more likely to join a group on Facebook than to get off the computer and go vote. For my own sake and the sake of my future kids and grandkids I hope that’s not the case here. Not to get too political but I feel like apathy, indifference, and willful ignorance have done their job too well for too long.
Whether my candidate wins or loses I hope it will not be said of our generation that we couldn’t be bothered to vote. It’s very easy to complain about the way things are but if I hear one more person complaining about [insert political issue here] and find out that they didn’t deign to vote I may just assault them with calamari. I would rather waste an entire delicious plate of breaded squid than listen to someone who doesn’t even care enough about their opinions to fight for them.