Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A raucous caucus

I know this isn't a political blog, so I'll stop talking politics eventually. When I feel like it. Hey, it is my blog! :)

So we went to the Democratic caucus last night and it definitely surpassed my expectations. My mother-in-law was telling me how, once upon a time when she was a Republican (shhhh...), she would hold her precinct's caucus at her house. It would be her and one other person eating cookies and drinking coffee. Oh how times have changed!! Until now, the largest number of people to caucus here in Colorado was 15,000. Last night there were 120,000 people. That's an 800% increase folks!

Our caucus was held at an elementary school. Let me tell you...elementary schoolers don't drive, so the parking lots are typically pretty small. And when you're holding a caucus for multiple precincts for both Democrats and Republicans all in the same place, well parking gets a little difficult. We showed up early, yet still had to park several blocks away, much to the dismay of a neighborhood resident who made sure to curse us for parking on his block. In addition to shouting vulgarities he told us that his street wasn't public, we weren't welcome there and he was going to call a tow truck. Hmm...it's a street, I'm pretty sure anyone can park there. It's not like I come and park on his street every day just to annoy him. It's one night....for a few hours. Needless to say I was glad he remained in his front yard drinking a beer and cursing us instead of going to the caucus. Leave voting for the reasonably minded. Is that rude to say? Oh well.

The mix of people was interesting - and I don't just mean Dems v. Reps. Within the Dem group there were young and old, pierced and suited, white, black, Hispanic, Asian. Picture a "crazy cat lady" in your head - yep, she was there. And the young PoliSci student with his droopy jeans. And the trenchcoat wearing, briefcase carrying businessman who reminded me of Miles from Murphy Brown. And the guy on my street who's house has been off the grid for almost 20 years. (His house was designed by NREL and he invited everyone to come and see it...pretty cool.)

I was a little taken aback by the lack of knowledge that some people inadvertently showed. And I don't mean that in a judmental way...more of a surprised way I guess. I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning and they were saying that lots of people vote in elections, but the people who typically vote in primaries and caucuses are the activists. I don't know if I should disagree with that, or simply accept that some people are just un/misinformed activists.

To back up a bit... The first thing you do at a caucus is a straw poll. It's basically a show of hands of who is for Obama, who is for Clinton and who is undecided. Then everyone gets to talk and say what they have to say to persuade you or answer questions you might have. One lady was very vocal about saying she was voting for Obama because of his experience. She kept saying, louder and louder, "I mean, what experience does Hillary have? It doesn't count to be the first lady. Just because you live in the White House doesn't mean you understand politics." To which someone else replied, "Well Bill would be there in the White House with her if she was President so he could help her."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about both comments. Don't get me wrong, I'm voting for Obama, so I bit my tongue and let her go right on believing that Obama has more experience than Hillary. I certainly didn't want to burst her bubble or change her vote. But really - is that WHY she's voting for Obama over Clinton? What if she actually knew that Hillary has been involved in politics since the 60's? This is the same lady who, later in the night, shared her beliefs with us that all children should have universal healthcare even if adults do not. Would she have changed her vote if I told her that Hillary has been an activist for children since the 70's, not only taking on child abuse cases as a lawyer, but working towards healthcare for all children as well?

Maybe it rubbed me the wrong way because she was so sure of herself and said it several times just to make sure everyone heard her. I don't purport being a political genius, or an environmental genius for that matter, but I am open to always learning more, to hearing other views and to changing mine from time to time too.

I guess you don't have to be right to be an activist though -- you just have to be loud! Hahahaha

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