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Saturday, February 9, 2008

What He Said

posted by on February 9 at 19:40 PM

Michael Canfield in a comments thread

Caucuses suck and here’s why. After I left Lowell Elementary (43-2016, Obama 4, Clinton 2) I wandered up Broadway to buy groceries at QFC. QFC was fully staffed with employees, as was Starbucks, Broadway video and every other business. That’s—in ONE block—probably a hundred or more people who never had a hope of getting to a caucus because they had to work this afternoon. Think they feel part of a community? Think they feel part of the process? I don’t.

I’m for Obama but if Clinton really is a favorite candidate of the working class and the elderly she has a point about the unfairness of caucuses. By the way my precinct had about 100 attending, and of those at least 10 individuals were sporting really trendy fashionable eyeware.

Michael wrote more about his caucus experience at his own blog.

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After the caucus, we went to the grocery store and the cashier saw our Obama stickers and said she was glad we voted for Obama because she couldn't.

Not every working person is for Hillary.

Posted by ghostlawns | February 9, 2008 7:51 PM

I could not agree more.

Posted by kim | February 9, 2008 7:52 PM

I agree too. I'm an Obama supporter, but at my caucus an elderly Japanese-American spoke about the difficulty she had in finding information about the caucus without a computer. My wife was unable to attend because of work. Caucuses need to go away.

Posted by Fnarf | February 9, 2008 7:57 PM

move the caucuses to sunday and make it a state holiday

Posted by markinthepark | February 9, 2008 8:03 PM

Because no one works on Sundays or state holidays, right?

Posted by Dan Savage | February 9, 2008 8:07 PM

Yeah, there would be higher turnout, but primaries also screw over the working poor, as does our voting system in general. How many grocery store stockers do you know who can live in the same neighborhood in which they work - or even in a neighborhood that's close to where they work? If you work twelve-hour shifts in the USofA, you're pretty much stuck when it comes to voting.

Posted by Laura | February 9, 2008 8:12 PM

Yeah, it's a little sad when the WA Republicans are more small-d democratic in their nomination process than we are. At least Republicans' primary ballot here means a little something.

Posted by tsm | February 9, 2008 8:15 PM

How about we just give up the retarded idea that people need to be physically present for more than 10 minutes at a time to make their choice count. It's not fucking 1820.

Posted by The CHZA | February 9, 2008 8:15 PM

We only had a little more than 30,000 people caucus today. New Hampshire (with not nearly our population) had a quarter million participate in their primary.

How can we really be impressed with our caucus system when so few participate?

Posted by superyeadon | February 9, 2008 8:15 PM

they are estimating 200K caucused today statewide. delegates need to propose and support a rule change at the state convention to include working and attending class as additional exceptions that will permit a caucus vote w/o attendance. currently only religion, military service and disability are the exceptions.

Posted by huh? | February 9, 2008 8:23 PM

Let's face it - caucuses were de rigueur when gentrified white men ran the country. How quaint.

Many of us have railed against the perennially non-voting segment of our society. Then a caucus comes along and you begin to understand how disinterest and detachment might be engendered.

And to understand that the powers-that-be don't really want everyone to vote. The caucus process provides such impetus.

And to become a delegate at the national conventions - well, you have to perform more tricks than a barking seal or une femme du pave.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | February 9, 2008 8:24 PM

What an idiotic comment. Did this self-appointed spokesperson for the working class ever consider that maybe those people just don't care who the nominee is?

Does this champion of the working class have any idea of the ridiculously low percentage of voter participation in the general elections, or is he too busy being the nemesis of those with "really trendy fashionable eyeware"?

There are many legitimate criticisms of the election process - and especially this ridiculous caucus - to be made. You can't do better than this?

Posted by Cry Me a Fucking River | February 9, 2008 8:25 PM

Try 200,000 people caucusing today.

Posted by Chas | February 9, 2008 8:25 PM

@13 is right.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 9, 2008 8:27 PM

@10 and 13 ... Yup. You're right. I was looking at WashPost numbers that showed delegates won by each candidate. (Not actual caucus attendance.)

I guess that blows my entire argument out of the water. Not the first time.

I will now commence to question everybody's patriotism ...

Posted by superyeadon | February 9, 2008 8:31 PM

Can I repeat that my mother in Nebraska didn't especially want to caucus today because she doesn't enjoy getting shit from her red Bushie neighbors when they find out she is a Democrat? And my mother-in-law who grew up in Nazi Germany is afraid to caucus at all -- even here in Seattle -- because she doesn't want anybody to know who she voted for? She stayed home today.

It bears repeating how often people are disenfranchised by a public balloting process. You must give every single person the chance to be heard with no fear whatsoever of reprisal, or even of mild embarrassment. None. No fear whatsoever.

Posted by elenchos | February 9, 2008 8:32 PM

Okay, first of all: The caucus does not require any more time to cast a vote than does a primary. So this "caucuses suck compared to primaries" is an unsupportable statement.

The caucus system is superior to the primary system, and here's why: The caucus system allows people to simply vote and leave, like the primary system does, but it also provides neighborhood-sized collections of people the opportunity to debate and to sway opinion. I find this optional second phase of the caucus system exhilarating and vital.

I'm sorry for the people who could not or did not make arrangements to vote in today's caucuses. They had weeks, at least, to arrange with their employers to take what amounts to a few minutes to vote. But the caucus system itself did not occlude them. They occluded themselves by not making it a top priority to attend.

Posted by doctiloquus | February 9, 2008 8:32 PM

Hey, in my precinct in Ballard, one of the Obama delegates selected was the guy who serves me eggs and toast at my neighborhood greasy spoon diner. And I didn't notice a fashionable set of glasses on anyone in the very crowded room. So my bit of bullshit anecdotal evidence cancels this one out, right?

Maybe a not-so-lazy journalist will take some time to examine actual facts 'n' data 'n' shit on the demographic profile of the caucus-going crowd versus the primary voter pool instead of taking his personal slice of myopia and extrapolating it into The Truth About Everything. Maybe?

Posted by thalia | February 9, 2008 8:33 PM

superyeadon @ 9 -

if you are coming up with 30,000 here,

this is the total delegates count statewide. from this number they extrapolate the number of federal pledged delegates for each candidate totaling the 78 we get for Washington state.

Posted by LH | February 9, 2008 8:33 PM

@17: "The caucus does not require any more time to cast a vote than does a primary."

That's just ridiculously contrary to the truth.

@6: "primaries also screw over the working poor"

What the hell is WRONG with you people? How can you say these things when they are laughable bullshit?

Try hard to imagine what's on my kitchen table right now. It's a ballot. It came in the mail. I can fill it out anytime I want and mail it back. Voila! Enfranchised.

Now imagine that it counted for something.

Posted by Fnarf | February 9, 2008 8:47 PM

I live in one of the most diverse areas of the city Rainier Valley/Columbia City/Hillman City/Seward Park. The caucuses at ORCA school were about 80-90% white yuppies, hipsters, and a few retirees. Although there is alot of gentrification going on down here and the lakeside was always rich and white, this is hardly representative of the area. Additionally the substantial Jewish and Muslim communities(I live within 6 blocks of 3 temples and 2 mosques) in the area were not at all represented since it was on a Saturday and held at 1pm(close to an Islamic prayer time).

As for people working long shifts, Washington state allows absentee voting/vote by mail, without needing to provide a reason, for every other election.

Posted by anna | February 9, 2008 8:50 PM

@17: obviously, you weren't at Seattle Central Community College today. The claim "the caucus does not require any more time to cast a vote than does a primary" is ludicrous- plainly and demonstrably untrue.

Some of the lines to sign in for individual precincts were pushing half an hour, plus some amount of time to figure out where to go in the press. That's for the bare minimum level of participation, assuming you leave immediately upon signing in, and excludes travel time. How long did my last single-issue mail-in ballot take to fill out and send, counting travel time to the mailbox?

Posted by Russell | February 9, 2008 8:52 PM

I went to my caucus, after about half an hour of panic last night where the caucus locator repeatedly produced an error message (I found a second locator in the slog comments that worked, thanks!). Yes, it was interesting. I would still prefer to vote in private. By mail. My husband couldn't make it. A friend of mine couldn't be convinced that his absentee ballot wasn't somehow influencing the selection of delegates. I'm assuming he didn't go. I'm glad so many of you had an awesome day, but I'm with Fnarf and Dan. Kill the caucus.

Posted by jessiesk | February 9, 2008 8:59 PM

Ya know, it is more than a little bit interesting that the results in states with primaries are very different from the states with caucuses. In both parties. But hey, Obama seems to do better with caucuses, so I'm sure no-one here will question it.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 9, 2008 9:00 PM

I actually liked caucusing today. And if they were crowded and disorganized, that's not an argument against caucuses, it's an argument for more organization next time.

But yes, there should be a mechanism for absentee caucusing for those who have to work or are out of the country or whatever. I had to leave early, and all I did was sign in. It would be very easy to have an absentee caucus system where it's pretty much just like the signing-in-only part, but by mail.

Posted by M | February 9, 2008 9:06 PM

Well obviously what we need here is for all these white yuppies with their trendy eyewear to stand in at work for all these poor working class people who really, really, really want to be there, but were kept down by their evil capitalist bosses.

Let's go one better: We should go to their homes (if they even have them), and ask them who they would vote for, and then give them money for their opinion. (We can take it from the white yuppies trendy eyewear accounts)

These people can't be expected to take any role in society because, after all, they're just working class people. Or religious. Or something like that.

Should we maybe burp them and wipe their behinds also? Is there anything else we can do for them?

Posted by It's all the four-eyed whitey's fault!!!! | February 9, 2008 9:16 PM

@17 if you just signed in your preference and left, your sign in was(or should have been) disqualified. The votes that counted were the people who stayed for the second sign in. I haven't heard of the minimum process (lining up to get in, gathering in the precinct group, stumping for party donations, reading the rules, signing a preference the 1st time, listening to speeches, signing in a preference again) taking less than 2 hours. Then there is the whole delegate phase...

As for arranging with your employer weeks in advanced, please! How many people working for minimum wage(or close) have the luxury of making those arrangements? knew that they had to caucus instead of just voting in the primary until this week? were able to convince their boss that there was more than just voting in the primary? could tell their boss they wanted to support a Democratic candidate? Not everyone works in a cafe on Capitol Hill or Fremont with a groovy, understanding boss. What if you work at the Wal-Mart in Renton? or Jiffy Lube in Lynnwood? or a 7-11 on Rainier Avenue?

Posted by anna | February 9, 2008 9:16 PM

@ 27 ... Our precinct captain (46-2344) said you could just sign in and leave, and that our votes would be counted. He said his own wife had done that.

We stuck around, mostly to hear the speeches. We weren't disappointed.

Posted by superyeadon | February 9, 2008 9:25 PM

Interesting comments, but I still like the caucus. It can be tweaked to improve the process, but I think scrapping the whole thing would be a mistake.

The caucus is a rare and vital organizing tool for the party. It is an excellent way to energize and mobilize voters for the more important general election in November. Today, the Democratic party signed-up thousands of volunteers for a get-out-the vote campaign, and we all had the opportunity to introduce resolutions for the convention.

Some of the issues which could be easily fixed are:

Caucus location information - I received my caucus location in the mail a few weeks ago. No internet necessary. Maybe distribution and advertisement of caucus locations could be improved, but I'm surprised that it was such an issue.

Working class/disenfranchised - Allow more exceptions to voting by caucus. It seems pretty easy to accommodate people who are working, in church, or physically unable to attend by allowing them to vote by ballot.

So, yes there are problems, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 9, 2008 9:28 PM

@27 -

if you just signed in your preference and left, your sign in was(or should have been) disqualified.

That is incorrect. There is no roll-call after we sign in. Those who wanted to change their vote after the discussion period approached the person keeping tally and changed their vote. Anyone not changing their vote did nothing.

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 9, 2008 9:30 PM

You were theoretically obligated to stay no longer than the welcoming speech to the entire caucus site. I don't know if they were checking; I suspect at mine you could have just walked away after writing your name. There was no "second sign-in".

But to suggest that even getting your name on the paper once was as quick as voting is ridiculous. The place was wall to wall, and the signins were way at the back, through a line that was actually 50% people who just couldn't find a chair, not lined up.

Posted by Fnarf | February 9, 2008 9:31 PM

27: No, voters did not have to make it to the second sign-in. They could sign in and leave, so long as it was after 1pm. I was one of two people coordinating an area of 14 precincts with 600-1000 people, so I know how this works.

Of course, with that many people, mere sign in took close to an hour. Figure 62 people in my precinct (average for my location), with a minute to sign in, and that explains why.

Caucuses aren't perfect. We should allow absentees for people who are working. I'd like to see delegates assigned according to how many people show up rather than how many people voted Democratic in the last major election, which would equalize the power of individual votes. That would also simplify the math. But in every other respect, I prefer caucuses over elections for choosing party nominees.

Now, for the final electoral choice, which isn't a party decision, an election with secret ballot is necessary. The confusion here is in thinking that party nominating contests are elections. They aren't, really.

Posted by Cascadian | February 9, 2008 9:31 PM

I hear that Wal-Mart, Jiffy Lube, and 7-11 double-staffed today JUST so people couldn't caucus. The same is true of Broadway Video and the Broadway QFC.

The people at the Broadway Starbucks, however, just refused to caucus. I think they may be communists.

Posted by Everything is unfair to everyone!!! | February 9, 2008 9:33 PM

Ha! That was my precinct. There were 93 of us.
The Clinton faction (I was in it) held off going from 2 delegates to 1 by getting two undecideds into the Clinton camp.

I even gave a little Clinton speech—hitting the working class theme.

I'm going onto the county level as a "Hils Yes" delegate.

Posted by Josh Feit | February 9, 2008 9:36 PM

@34 - Josh, with you and Erica on board with Clinton, how did the SECB choose Obama? Who wrote the endorsement, A. Birch Steen?

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 9, 2008 9:41 PM

@17, As for the time it takes to cast a vote in a primary (absentee or otherwise) being the same at a caucus, I think anyone who actually attended a caucus today would disagree. Furthermore, there is a big difference between having to be somewhere at a specific time to cast your vote and convincing your manager you need the 2+ hours off and having a 12 hour window (or 2+ weeks for absentee) to cast your vote.

And how many people do you think will mail that absentee ballot in thinking it actually counts for something? I can think of several people I work with who didn't know they had to caucus to cast a meaningful vote and most everyone I work with is well educated. What about those who are less so? Or have no internet connection? Or who recently moved to Washington?

You want to sway others? Join the campaign of your choice. Get together with your friends and talk politics. Hell, go door to door and say what you will. But any opportunity to cast a vote should strive to exclude as few people as possible.

Posted by Charles | February 9, 2008 9:47 PM

For what it's worth, I really, really hate the mail-in ballot idea. I loved going to the caucus today and love going to my neighborhood polling place and mingling. Dropping something in the mail doesn't feel like voting.

Posted by Peter F | February 9, 2008 10:04 PM

Yay for Josh! I knew you liked and respected Clinton, but I had no idea you decided to choose differently from your Stranger peers and support her in the caucus. Way to go!

Posted by Babaloo | February 9, 2008 10:09 PM

Mahtli69 @ 29: "The caucus is a rare and vital organizing tool for the party. "

This is perhaps the most relevant point made in this argument.

People confuse primaries with elections. Elections are where everyone gets to have a say.

Primaries and/or caucuses are where parties get to decide who they want to be their candidate in the election. This is a crucial distinction.

I totally get the argument of those who want to open the process up to a wider pool (the primary, or even an open primary, faction). I also totally get the argument of those who want to limit the pool.

Both sides have merit and weaknesses.

But I think a caucus system is the one that best serves the party...and, like it or not, that's what this stage of the campaign is about.

Posted by gnossos | February 9, 2008 10:10 PM

No one should know for whom I vote. No one. Never. And mailing a ballot is INFINITELY and IMPENETRABLY defensible vs caucusing.

And the social interaction argument, while sentimental and family-of-man fuzzy, is misplaced. I can meet my neighbors at the Wallingford Wurst Fest, and I do, and I enjoy hanging out with them all just fine, thank you.

I just don't think they need to see for whom I vote on some public sign-up sheet, or that I should have to spend more than the 1 minute it takes filling out, seal and stamp a mail-in ballot.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | February 9, 2008 10:11 PM

The lesson I learned today was that caucuses are useless when you have 100+ people involved. A primary makes more sense for big groups.

Posted by dw | February 9, 2008 10:12 PM

Hillary had years and plenty of money to help give herself more of a leg up in the caucus system. Instead, she seemed to ignore all caucuses, except those she thought she could win, only to have her people badmouth them after she lost (Iowa). Why is it that her campaign so often seems to be about how hard everything is for her and her supporters? If she gets the nomination, and she loses to McCain, is she going to try to go to the White House anyway and just say that everyone was so mean to her, she deserves to be President?

Posted by Peter | February 9, 2008 10:19 PM

I'm in the "kill the caucus" camp too.

Prior to disbursing into our precincts, the party official official running the site went on and on and on about what a "grass roots" nature of the caucus and delegate system.

What a bunch of horse shit!

If anything, this system is one that excludes people and is prone to manipulation.

This time around, it's not such a big deal because the was such an overwhelming landslide.

But even with, say, 200,000 voters, how can anybody really be dazzled by the turnout in a state of 6 million people?

Can the caucus. We've evolved beyond this format in so many ways.

Oh, yeah... Yea for Obama!

Posted by oneway | February 9, 2008 10:28 PM

I just realized its 10:30 on a Saturday night and I'm reading a blog about caucuses. Fuck my life.

Posted by Marko Constans | February 9, 2008 10:32 PM

I take back everything bad I ever said about Josh. Until the next time.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 9, 2008 10:33 PM

You know what? Post this comment before the caucus or don't fucking post it at all. Because while it's a perfectly valid point to make, making it after the caucus makes you sound like a whiny little bitch whose candidate lost -- and who would likely have been just fine with the caucus process if your guy had won.

Fuck sake.

Posted by Judah | February 9, 2008 11:18 PM

Caucuses are here to stay in this state until we go to partisan registration. Give us partisan registration and then we can deal between caucus or primary.

In the 34th District, we doubled our caucus attendance from 2004, raised 29 large, and added 600(!) new members. Try that with a primary, bitches!

Posted by ivan | February 9, 2008 11:44 PM

I don't even really care for politics at all, very apathetic I am, but for the first time in my life, I actually wanted and CARED to caucus. However, my work schedule could give a damn. No one would even take a few hours of my shift. Bah!

Posted by I love 'em both | February 9, 2008 11:58 PM

Simple math, people.

Today we had roughly 200,000 people at the caucuses, more than double the usual, and considered and extraordinary turnout.

In the 2006 general election, over 2,000,000 people voted.

That means 1,800,000 people who voted in the 2006 general election didn't, or couldn't, caucus. That's a lot of disenfranchised voters.

I understand that this isn't a general election; that it is for the party to select their candidate. The caucus is nevertheless an elitist process that disenfranchises anyone who has to work or generally has too busy of a life to take a big chunk of their Saturday to caucus. It disenfranchises introverts and shy people, or anyone who doesn't want all their neighbors knowing who they're voting for.

Yay for all the highbrow political discussion at the grassroots neighborhood level. But simple math shows you that a tiny fraction of the population caucuses, even with an extraordinary turnout. It might be fun for some folks, but it obviously doesn't work for a vast majority of the population.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | February 10, 2008 12:35 AM

I'm here in Virginia and I get to vote in a primary come Tuesday.

I always thought everything in Wasington was better than anything in Virginia

But I'm SO glad I don't have to caucus. Confronting anyone about anything turns me to jelly.

Old Virginia is backward about most everything. But at least we get to vote in private and not have to argue with each other.

How we elected Jim Webb still mystifies me - in a very good way.

Posted by Ayden | February 10, 2008 1:49 AM

PS - I am very proud of Washington for voting Obama.

Hope Virginia can do the same...

Posted by Ayden | February 10, 2008 1:52 AM

#49 - Sorry, but that's ridiculous logic. Look up turnout numbers in primary states for non-general elections. You're lucky to get 25% for a primary in a presidential election year, 15% for an off-year election. People don't vote in non-general elections in anything approximating large numbers.

Caucuses are somewhat undemocratic in the ways they disenfranchise people and in the lack of a secret ballot. Yep, that's true. But as multiple people have posted (and have been ignored), primaries aren't real elections. Prior to 40 years ago there really weren't many primaries anyway. These events choose a party's nominee for office. If your nominee wants on the ballot without having to go through a caucus or anything else, then get your own damn party. Until then, the parties are going to do what they're going to do when they believe it gives them some benefit.

Also, the community argument is a valuable one. I'm in Nebraska, the reddest of the red (save Utah I guess) and we had our first Democratic caucuses tonight as well. It was an incredible success and I found out that there are 190 other Democrats in my neighborhood. And, dammit, it felt good to be in the same room with them. All of us together, talking about our party, talking about who we thought was best for our party, trying to convince undecideds, and frankly laughing a lot. That's something that doesn't happen otherwise. Turnout was high, people's spirits were good, and the Democratic party in this state will be better for it. Maybe Washington has passed the point of needing the caucus, that's for you guys to discuss, but here in Nebraska I'm damn glad we had one.

FYI - in my caucus location (190 people - probably 95% white) Obama had 145 of the 190. In one location in O(ba)maha, also vastly white, Obama received almost 1300 supporters to less than 30 for Hillary. The experience of seeing white, black, young, old, rich, poor, voting for Obama was a powerful experience - especially as it was occuring in 92% white Nebraska. Lets just say that we had the more diverse side at the caucus.

Posted by Ed | February 10, 2008 2:25 AM

What a bunch of ungrateful complaining. Your friends and neighbors donated a lot of time, energy and money to make sure we had caucuses. They deserve nothing but thanks, despite the SNAFUs that may have occurred.

And it's folly to denigrate the caucus system by pointing out flaws in its execution. That's like saying football is a stupid sport because the Seahawks lost a playoff game.

Further, I completely agree that more people should be able to caucus. It is designed for maximum, face-to-face input and interaction on a neighborhood scale. It's a process that secret balloting could never hope to rival. Therefore, it sickens me that we are not given 1 day off every 4 years to caucus for our favorite presidential candidate. And it saddens me that people would choose the empty convenience of a secret-ballot primary over fighting for greater access for all to the substantive caucus experience.

Finally, #40 said something about a vote needing to be secret. That's true in general elections. But we're talking here about single-party deliberations over who should be nominated for president. This is a conversation held amongst professed party allies, and that conversation can not take place in a substantive way if the key information, namely who supports whom and for what reasons, is kept secret. Hiding that information is completely anathema to the entire endeavor!

Posted by doctiloquus | February 10, 2008 5:24 AM

Oh for fuck's sake, Dan. Caucuses give more power to ACTIVIST, PROGRESSIVE groups- LGBT, pro-choice, unions! Where did Obama win biggest in the early races, up to and including Super Tuesday?!?

But if you want to give power away to moneyed, retail politics- be my guest.

Posted by Big Sven | February 10, 2008 5:45 AM

Mail. Internets. We should get to choose whether we want to vote by mail, or online. Voting in person is ridiculous.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | February 10, 2008 6:13 AM

These aren't public events like elections. Political parties are private organizations. You want to change them, join the party and influence the process. Otherwise, enjoy the opportunity the private organization is giving you, a non-member, to participate in choosing their nominee.

Posted by pox | February 10, 2008 6:17 AM

I'm a working class person who was at the workplace yesterday when the caucuses took place. I haven't even made up my mind whom to support yet and am open to swaying. Yet, it won't matter. Why? Because the Democratic party took a big stinking shit on the primary system. They alienated me and told me that they didn't care for my participation in the nominating process because I probably wouldn't have the time to get out for grassroots organizing (which is, according to a precinct captain last night, the reason the parties like caucuses - they gather names and addresses for the grassroots organizing). I cannot see how opening up elections to progressive voters such as myself would limit the ability of such views to influence the party's direction (as opposed to reinforcing the tired, old direction that allows the same people to show up election year in/out to thrust their views on us once again).

Posted by B.D. | February 10, 2008 6:42 AM

Oh, and to the point about parties being private organizations: well put. However, if they are private organizations, then why are our governments donating public spaces and monies (in the form of Primary elections) to such private institutions? Are the parties renting the public spaces? Are they paying for the elections for the primaries that they are ignoring? Seems like they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Posted by B.D. | February 10, 2008 6:45 AM

Lots of totally crappy and stupid arguments today.

"Not every working person is for Hillary.

Duh no shit sherlock. do you know what a "generalization" is? do you know what being on topic is? Apparently not.

The main point is people can't make it to the caucus whether or not they are for one or the other.

Caucuses take as long as voting:
are you completely delusional and insane? My caucus took over 2 hours. Voting: fill in a form and drop it in the mail.

Caucuses are better because they build community:
Well, so does prison or any other forced activity.

Primary elections involve about 9X more people and caucuses in our state this time despite massive turnout were just 10% of the voters.

Primaries are more "democratic".

More conventient.

We all talk over the issues endlessly today and are constantly informed via internet hard papers and cable -- in olden times you might need to talk to your neighbors to get info but not today.

And this:
200,000 hard core democrats x 3 hours each = 600,000 person hours NOT devoted to volunteering to beat the the GOP.

Shit, if we could export just 150,000 person hours to Idaho we'd probably elect 2 Democratic Senators there and do more for ourselves than having caucuses.

If you took a poll of Democratic voters they would favor a primary about 90% to 10%.

END of discussion.

Ever wonder why they put this up to a vote or why you can't figure out who exactly is responsible for this decision???

The Democratic Party insiders want to keep power among their own hands and they just LOVE bylaws rules allocation formulas and a bunch of stupid gobbledygook to KEEP THE PEOPLE OUT.

And look at the rules.

They can't even just say "take the percentages and round them off to the nearest whole integer and in case of a tie flip a coin." Instead you end up with weird and bizarre rules for allocating noninteger fractions that befuddled 3 engineer math majors at our caucus.

Any why should my precinct have fewer delegates than your precinct because we voted less for Kerry than your precinct?

What's wrong with one person one vote?

You get more voting power because mroe people voted Democratic in your precinct 4 years ago? What the fuck is up with that?

The whole "system" is stupid, inefficient bizarre and convoluted and designed to NOT EXPRESS THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE.

Posted by unPC | February 10, 2008 8:33 AM

BD @58 - at my caucus site, the announcers asked for money to pay for the site rental. I think it was a nominal amount, but it was something.

Posted by mks | February 10, 2008 8:37 AM

Damned disenfranchising caucus. I did not think I could attend but bundled up my 7 month-old and went. My husband could not get out of work, so he was SOL. And it's not just entry-level service workers who are screwed - nurses, cops, and firefighters don't have the luxury of a Saturday afternoon, either.
Anyway, despite previous posts arguing you can just sign up and leave, per what I was told I had to stay through the delegate voting stage - 90 minutes into the to the function. Luckily my baby was able to put up with the crowds and stuffy room.
On paper, I submitted a resolution to do away with this retarded thing next time around. Not in those words, of course.

Posted by Madashell | February 10, 2008 8:39 AM

To whoever complained that these complaints are a few days late:

Complaints about caucuses NOW are timely,

Now is BEFORE we do caucuses AGAIN in just 2 years (for party platform planks) and in 4 years (for President again).

Complaints will be even more timely this Jnuary. Every year the Democratic party "re-organizes" in the january meetings and chooses new leadership -- that's when you can complain and support people who reflect your views.

To have an impact you need to be a member of the legislative district Democratic party org. and go vote in January or go speak up in January for officers who are against caucuses.

To have a real voice, become the precinct committee officer. By the end of July file your own damn self to be the precinct leader in your precinct. It cost $1 dollar to file! Then you are a super official member of the Democratic party and you can actually vote in January for the Party leaders and officers who decide whether ot have caucuses.
Or just complain to them right now. E mail or write to Dwight Pelz, chair, State Demo Party, cc to the ominous sounding Washington State Democratic Party Central Committee (check out the various Party websites for who these people are).

You can tell them what you think.

You can also get appointed as PCO if there is none in your precinct.

You gotta join up to have a voice. IT's a private political association. The leaders are elected. But because the broad masses of primary loving folk don't bother to join....the activist insiders keep choosing caucuses, cuz they love 'em. Caucuses are insider-activist-friendly, you see, and all the activists thus have a greater role.

Plus they get to imne the sign in sheets for new members/due payers.

Pretty weeird--at my caucus we got over $100 in cash donations but NOT ONE person wanted to fill out the little envelope and give up their name and address and e mail to the Democratic Party.

Posted by unPC | February 10, 2008 10:37 AM

unPC, if they didn't fill out their name and address the party by law cannot keep the donation and has to give it to the state for the general fund.

My wife was disenfranchised. I'm still waiting for someone to convince me that's a democratic thing to do. Is it really worth it to hear your neighbors deliver a few inarticulate one-minute speeches (including mine)? Caucuses suck ass.

As for sore losing, I'm an Obama delegate. I STILL think caucuses suck ass.

Posted by Fnarf | February 10, 2008 10:53 AM

Ok, again, who said that a party's nominating process has to be democratic?

Posted by Ed | February 10, 2008 11:18 AM


NO NO NO - caucuses do not suck ass. But gay men do and it is a path to great sexual pleasure. Just ask us.

Negotiate with you wife, fnarf. Then quit using it as an insult.

Ever hear the word homophobia, and why some slurs are insults??

Try caucuses fuck pussy --- god how horrible that must be.

Posted by GUEST FAG | February 10, 2008 11:28 AM

@ 34 ... You're a Cedar Park resident? I halfway thought we'd caucus at the Rimrock.

Posted by superyeadon | February 10, 2008 11:33 AM


At my caucus, they told us the space cost money.

Posted by pox | February 10, 2008 11:34 AM

I went to the caucuses at Beacon Hill E. School - yes jammed - we did salute the flag - some precincts wisely went outside -well organized just a bit overwhelmed by the numbers, people made do, and the most diverse group of people in the city. Awesome diversity.

Beyond all the politics it was a living version of the new world we are entering..... already here in Seattle.

Many outstanding conversations, I think caucuses are boss, and the system needs some better organization and should roll on.

Saturday will live in in my life experience as one of the best days of my life. Connecting with every type of person in this city in one big cheering and united space. Totally positive, as good as Pride Rallies.

Wow. Very Obama, but polite to Clinton folk. The slew of new people have not a clue, I hope they actually vote .... cross your fingers.

Posted by GUEST FAG | February 10, 2008 11:44 AM

Fnarf, here's something to consider:

Caucuses are based on grassroots support. Yeah, you can't get to everyone and it's inconvenient as hell and complicated, but there's the potential for a lot of people power. 200,000 people talking about politics in person to strangers is monumental.

Primaries are based on money. Scrap the caucuses and candidates won't have to do barely any grassroots organizing (Goodbye volunteers, goodbye youth, etc.) the and instead will use their resources to fundraise, buy TV ads, and basically try to get their message out buy using money, not people. Hello corporations, rich guys, more rich guys, etc.

While I totally get the convenience/disenfranchising arguments regarding caucuses, moving to a primary systems drives up the costs of elections considerably.

I have personally liked the idea of a national primary and screw all this stuff, but you know what? Politics are not some annoyance to deal with or an abstraction. It's fucking real and to actually look people in the eyes and hear why their presidential preference means to them or to let people know what it means to you means that the election isn't some entertainment event. The outcome is a decision about who lives, who dies, who gets to go to collegue, who can get married, who can't, the list goes on.

Leadership matters. Your drop-in-the- mail vote has a major effect beyond yourself. You might as well look at the people you are affecting while making that crucial choice. Having a public framework to have those discussions is important. I'm sure as hell not going to bring up politics at the Wallingford Wurst festival.

General Election all-mail ballotting? Love it. But getting to that level should involve some actual vetting.

Posted by me | February 10, 2008 11:46 AM

The Dem Party RENTS all the spaces. Over the years they always ask for dollars to help with expenses and people are very stingy. It is not a major fund raiser.

Send a few bucks to the King County Dems.

Posted by Barry | February 10, 2008 11:49 AM

I agree about caucuses er, being bad, and I am also an Obama delegate. One glaring mistake of our precinct: People were told, by the announcer at the mike that they could sign up for a candidate and leave if they didn't want to be a delegate or vote for a delegate or listen to speeches - all true, but what they didn't warn about was the possiblility that if their candidate had only a handful of supporters, and they all left, then that candidate might go delegateless if nobody wanted to stick around and step up. Very important point, and exactly what happened in my precinct.

Posted by Phoebe | February 10, 2008 1:51 PM

@47 -- Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, but here in Illinois, we don't have partisan registration, and we have a primary. On the day of the election, you just tell the poll workers whether you want a Democratic, Republican, or Green party ballot.

Oh, and also, you can do early voting at select locations for 2 weeks prior. And absentee voting if you're going to be out of town or incapable of getting to the polling place.

If I had only voted for the Presidential candidate (we had about 30 local/county positions too), it probably would have taken me 3 minutes to vote, including travel time. So, there is absolutely no way a caucus takes the same amount of time as a primary.

Posted by Julie | February 10, 2008 7:16 PM

Man, I made the mistake of putting down my email in the 2004 caucuses, and the Dems have been relentlessly spamming me for the past four years.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | February 10, 2008 9:53 PM

About the donations (@70 and others):
if the WA dem party had simply used the state-funded primary, they wouldn't need to pass the hat at the caucus. WA state pissed away some $9million for this 'for nothing' primary; why should we pay for the dem party's refusal to use a sensible, funded primary? I couldn't believe that the cardboard box passed around during our caucus had so much cash tossed into it (and no, apparently you are not required to fill out name and info to toss cash into a box for the WA dem party).
And I'd recommend not filling out your phone number and email at these dem party events - you'll only receive dem party spam (yes, it is mostly spam and rarely useful information).
Primaries rule!

Posted by bittercaucus | February 10, 2008 11:11 PM


Your open hostility tells me you are not a Democrat ... go back to the Bush/McCain camp and enjoy yourself.

I have no problem giving a few bucks to the Dems, and deleting spam I don't need.

What is with the hysteria? Talk about over reaction. God.

Posted by Barry | February 11, 2008 6:32 AM

Above -#74

The bucket at my caucuses was all dollar bills - easy to spend more than was in that bucket for dinner and drinks.

Just where do you live that 300.00 in dollar bills and change is a rip off of some kind?

And if you don't like Democrat caucuses why not go the the McCain meeting?

At my meeting there were two guys that sound like you. Some of us wondered why they came .... after all, it is a party event.

Posted by zak | February 11, 2008 6:40 AM

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