I went to the caucus this morning. Just got home from going to lunch with my mom, who went to her own caucus. I went in support of Dean; she went in support of Kucinich. We live in Vancouver, at the very bottom of the state next to the Oregon border.
I arrived a little before ten. The place was crowded--a good 70 or more people there, I'd say. Maybe even 100. I didn't even know what to do at first, finally figured out I needed to find the table for my precint. It was very disorganized and I wasn't particularly impressed. It could definitely be better organized. Apparently, the caucus my mom went to was the same way.
Once I found my table, I was the only one there! It didn't last. We ended up with a whopping 5 people for our precinct--two for Dean, two for Kerry, and one for Edwards. I was elected precinct chair by a very informal vote.
Our precinct had four delegates. Even though the one Edwards vote represented 20% of our precinct, we were told he did not get a delegate because he didn't have enough support. I was confused about how this worked, exactly, but we went with it. So the Edwards supporter reconfigured for Dean, basically just because he didn't want Kerry to be crowned the nominee so early--not so much because he didn't like Kerry.
That put us at 3/2, which left the delegate count the same--2 for Dean and 2 for Edwards. I was willing to be a delegate and so was one of the Kerry supporters, so the group elected us as such. No one else wanted to be a delegate, though, so we handed off our two other delegates to the neighboring group, who was already pretty closely split between Kerry and Dean.
Overall, it was a great experience. I was happy Dean did as well as he did--he seemed to be pretty close to Kerry overall at my caucus. One interesting thing is I didn't really see Clark or Edwards represented at all. I don't know if they got delegates or not at our caucus. There were lots of Kerry and Dean signs and some Kucinich ones. But I didn't see anything for Edwards or Clark. I guess their supporters are more focused on the southern states right now. They probably had a larger visibility in the more conservative Eastern section of the state.
My precinct was so small, it was really relaxed. Everyone got along fine and there was no real arguing. There was no need for persuading, even, as only the one guy had to change his vote and he just went right for Dean. There was definitely debate going on at the tables on each side of us, though, as they both had around 15 people and were jostling for delegates.
It seems turnout was high. One person said there had only been about 12-13 people at the last caucus, though I don't know if that meant the 2000 or maybe a caucus in a non presidential election year. It was fun being precinct chair, especially while being, by far, the youngest one at my precinct. (I'm 23.) There were a lot of older people there. I don't think there were that many in my age range--only a couple that I saw.
So now I'm a delegate for . . . well, I'm not sure. I don't think it's the final state delegate convention--it's more like the local county. I think then new delegates are elected to go onto the state convention? Not sure how it works. I just know it's on April 27th, at an as yet unnamed location.
I like being involved. The precinct chair for 662--the precinct we gave our two extra delegates to--gave me her card and encouraged me to come to the precinct captain meeting that will be in the morning on Feb. 21. So I think I'll attend that. I would like to be involved in the party at the state level.
As a side note, my mom ended up going uncommited at her caucus. There was a second person in her precinct going for Kucinich, but there were 46 people total, so he didn't make the cut. She originally went to Dean, but then realized she could go uncommited and did that, along with the other Kucinich supporter.
The caucus was messy, but it was fun meeting other people. Also, it made me realize that, ultimately, the Democratic party is really us. It's us regular people going to a caucus and setting the agenda. It's regular people acting as delegates. I showed up to vote for Dean, now I'm a precinct chair and a delegate. And maybe I'll go on to the state convention--I don't know. But it's possible. That's how this work--regular people letting their voices be heard. It gives me some faith that I can make a difference, within my party and my country, and that maybe it's not all as controlled by the shadowy, power-wielding, string-pulling party elites, as it sometimes seems.
Here's to democracy!