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I Am A Delegate...

…To the County and Legislative Conventions of the Washington Democratic Party in May. Unfortunately, I'm not a Rev. Sharpton delegate, which was the plan. Here's what happened:

Shelly and I went to the local caucus over on 75th Street, at the school there. The attendance was amazing; roughly 2/3 of the visitors had never participated in a caucus before. Our precinct, the 2233rd, was to select three delegates to the regional conventions. Those conventions pick state delegates, and the state delegates will go to the national convention to nominate a candidate for president.

The Washington Democratic Caucus process works in three stages:
  1. signing in and declaring a preference,
  2. the first round of balloting, and
  3. the selection of delegates.
Our precinct didn't go multiple rounds of caucusing, though there was some stumping. The results of the sign-in were good for Sharpton (4 of 33 votes), but better for Kerry, Dean, and Undecided. Clark got a single vote.

I attempted to elevate Sharpton to our natural allies, the Kucinich supporters. No go; they outnumbered us. My support of Sharpton was skin-deep; I convinced my fellow Sharpton voters to join forces with the Kucinich group, and what do you know, that put Kucinich ahead of Edwards. We tied with Dean, and had enough support to get a delegate from our precinct. I was mildly amazed that I got my Sharptonites in line so easily, to be honest. Meanwhile, the Dean group was organized enough to also get 11 votes and a delegate. Finally, Kerry limped in with 8 votes and our third delegate. shellyinseattle was one of the Kerry supporters, but not a delegate. Edwards was shut out.

The actual politicking held only moderate appeal for me; I'm usually not a big deal-maker. The best part was meeting the neighbors, listening to what they had to say. Democracy at its most basic is fairly invigorating, though the Seattle version is a little too polite for my tastes (the most negative comments anyone made were about electability and "selling out").

I met the other Sharpton supporters (all white men, one a teacher — though the district has both black and Hispanic residents, they weren't present at the caucus), plus some other folks who live on our street. Since each precinct is so small in the city, you pretty much meet folks within a few blocks of your home. Anything that expands the bonds of community is fine with me, and worth the coming deluge of Democratic party appeals and political junk mail.

I'm a Kucinich alternate delegate to the county convention in May. If he drops out, I become an Uncommitted alternate delegate.

The process was enjoyable, and done in less than 2 hours. I don't understand why more people don't get involved in local politics.


Feb. 7th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
Re: I can't believe...
Why the hell not? He's right on all the issues, and he impressed the hell out of me in the radio debates. Have you heard him speak? He's got rhetoric down to an art. So much less weasel talk than anyone else.

What's your objection to his candidacy?
Feb. 8th, 2004 03:50 am (UTC)
Re: I can't believe...
You're serious? You must not have seen the televised debates. He does a great job at raising issues, but comes across as realllly uninformed about a lot of topics one had better understand to be Prez. Of course, this comes from a guy who matches his politics almost 100%.

I find it really scary how you make it sound as if the nomination process is decided by a group of a few dozen people. I mean, gawd, I think the Electoral College is horrific enough, and how one Prez candidate wins an entire state when he only gets, say, 100 more votes than the other guy, but I get creeped out hearing about it.

Is there more to this process than you're suggesting? I mean, is there any real reason for people to vote?

Feb. 8th, 2004 08:04 am (UTC)
Re: I can't believe...
The point of voting for someone like Kucinich or Sharpton isn't that you ever expect them to be president. It's that you want their issues to get attention. I walked into the caucus expecting to see Dean and Kerry sweep the delegates, and I was surprised by the depth of support for Kucinich. So I said, what the heck, the nominations are about ideals and a platform.

Being uninformed on the issues is not a disqualification for the presidency, as you know. If anything, being a policy wonk who understands government's role is (sadly) perceived as a flaw by the voters.

I'm sorry if I make it sound like the people choose candidates, but that's exactly what happens. The die-hards rule the primaries. This is why people like Jerry Brown or Pat Buchanan or George Bush or Jesse Jackson could get delegates — they appeal to radical elements in their party. But the nomination process is averaged out by tens of thousands of caucuses across the country. My precinct nominated 3 out of the ~7,600 state nominating delegates. Note that the caususing process is NOT winner take all, like the Electoral College. It's proportional representation.

There's no real reason to vote as long as the Rs rig elections with Diebold machines and other frauds. But if you don't vote, you pretty much concede the field of American political life to the evangelicals, the senior vote, and other mass movements. I'd rather be involved, even if my hopes are rarely realized by the American political mainstream.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 9th, 2004 12:30 am (UTC)
Re: I can't believe...
I withdraw my support for the Reverend. Thanks for the pointer!
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 9th, 2004 03:32 am (UTC)
Re: Mr Reading Comprehension weighs back in.
Jeff and I now greet each other with "In the name of the Senate and the People of Rome!", followed by the proper salute.

Lesser mortals can only shake their heads in wonder.

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