Wednesday, March 02, 2016

More Caucus Than You Can Handle

Since moving back to Colorado a decade ago, I've been registered as a Democrat. But I've never before decided to take part in the party caucus leading up to the presidential election. It wasn't that I felt extreme passion this year for a particular candidate. (Whoever the party candidate ends up being has my vote in November.) Rather, I was more interested in just seeing the process, to be able to say I'd done it.

I've heard that efforts are underway to convert Colorado to open primary voting for future elections. After tonight, all I can say is: sweet merciful crap, let that be true. Caucuses are a horror show. I feel like only the continued existence of the anachronistic and convoluted electoral college system keeps caucuses from being the most quaint and idiotic thing about U.S.elections.

Our caucus began with an unenthusiastic man reading the two and a half pages of rules (as required by law) in a stupefying drone. Before we even got to "the good stuff," half the room seemed ready to bolt for the door. Here were the people theoretically most invested in the political process, most of them suddenly questioning that decision.

There were five precincts meeting at our location, all in one big room. My precinct had obviously the lowest turnout. There was plenty of time to look around the room as our appointed "caucus chair" wrangled math and instructions she didn't really seem to understand, and I feel like none of the precincts I watched seemed like an ideal model of democracy in action.

We had my group, all essentially people with minds made up and no particular interest in trying to change anyone else's. We conducted our vote quietly, simply. Nobody seemed to want to say anything at all really. Lack of enthusiasm for the options? Certainty of entrenchment? Looking at the obvious demographics of old and young and seeing almost without fail how that translated into Bernie or Hillary voters?

Not that unbridled passion seemed a good way to go either. Multiple other precincts had moments where they cut through the dull wallah of the room with full throated shouting matches, angry questioning of people's ability to count, ear-piercing whistles for attention, and more. No one was going to catch flies with any of that vinegar.

What the hell is any of this supposed to be for? It seems cut from the same lame-brained cloth as the electoral college scheme. Perhaps I'd care about caucusing in a world where I'd ridden my horse a few miles in and this would be my only chance to hear arguments about certain candidates before sending a stranger off to some faraway city (twenty whole miles distant!) to cast a vote for a president whose words I'd never actually hear from his own mouth. (His, in ye olde days I'm talking about, of course.)

In a world where anything I want to know (true or false) about any candidate is just a Google search away, a world where my exposure to the election will last over a year and not just a few days, a world where I don't need some proxy for a candidate to tell me what that candidate stands for, caucuses seem like a complete farce. And what's a word for worse than a complete farce? Because that's what it is in Colorado, one of the few states that actually has mail-in voting for all other elections, yet which for some stupid reason still goes through this caucusing nonsense.

I suppose I am glad to have gone through the process, as I now know it's something I never want to do again. Despite having every intention of actually voting in the election in November, despite having voted in every general election (presidential, mid-term, or annual) in which I've ever been eligible. It goes to show you, make voting difficult and people won't want to do it. (Which is totally the real motivation behind the voting regulations being enacted in so many states.)

I still care very much about the outcome of elections in general, and this one in particular. But I did not need to know how this caucus sausage gets made.

Caucus sausage. Giggity.

No comments: