Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Night at the Caucus-Race

Well we here in southeast Texas got wet yesterday, but the storm roared through here to leave us all standing around looking at each other, dripping wet. Why not, we Texans agreed, have a caucus-race? After all, “the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race”.

[For the literate readers out there, yes, you are right, that is a quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – Chapter 3]

So we did. I met a roomful of my fellow Democrats at my local elementary school’s gymnasium. I had no idea they had gymnasiums in elementary schools. The Republican convention was to meet in the school’s cafeteria. I was expecting to see 12 of us there – the 12 activists that keep showing up on the Texas VAN’s data dump for my precinct.

132 showed up instead. I figured no one would believe me so I took a photograph.

After sitting in chairs talking all of this over: surprise at the numbers to show up, amazement at the numbers of younger people taking an interest, the call went out for all to line up and register their presidential choice. The lines inched forward, and everyone was in a very good mood. One gentleman showed his registration card, saw that he was in the wrong place, and resigned himself to not voting, but was urged by those of us around him to find out where his convention was and go. He finally did.

Presenting my stamped registration card, I signed in and registered my vote, again, for Barack Obama. There were provisions for those who hadn’t gotten their cards stamped – they had to find their names on the rosters of those who had voted in the precinct.

We all got to vote.

I stood around afterward talking to a precinct worker. She had been there all day. She mentioned that the Democrats formed long lines in the morning, and Republicans at lunchtime ("...because they have longer lunch hours," she whispered). By evening, she said, several Republicans had heard about Rush Limbaugh’s exhortation for Texas Republicans to go vote for Hillary in order to “mess ‘em up” and showed up at the polls, giving each other high fives.

I told you they were crazy here in Fort Bend.

We all sat back down and elected a convention chair and secretary. Now I know that this is the critical time in the convention that has been discussed in the news and on the blogs, where conventions were going to be “taken over” by one camp or another. I am here to tell you that this didn’t happen in my precinct.

I feel confident of this because we had, at my precinct, two women with Obama T-shirts, the official ones, not the knock-offs, and buttons. They sat right down at the counting table with the chair and the secretary and made sure the count was fair.

I wonder if this is what they mean by Obama’s campaign being better at caucuses than Clinton’s?

The official count came down:

For Hillary Clinton: 61 votes
For Barack Obama: 71 votes

My precinct was allotted 16 delegates to the senate convention, meaning that Barack got 9 and Hillary got 7. They explained that it broke fractionally toward Obama the way the math and rounding went.

Then the room split into caucuses. I counted 12 go to the Obama caucus and decided it was time to go home. A senate caucus, while possibly historic this time around, isn’t really something I want to do.

So I left.

Making my way back to the car, I noticed that the Republican convention was going full swing in the school’s cafeteria: four old white men sitting at a cafeteria table doing God knows what.

Then I got home to find that McCain is the official nominee of the Dark Side.

Talk about an anti-climax.

1 comment:

Marsha said...

Hal,

I also went to my precinct caucus which wasn't difficult as I had been handing out information about our local candidates since 7 AM. I planned on a room to hold about 25 people and 230 caucus goers appeared starting about 6:30 PM. I was so fortunate to have a California Obama worker all day. She moved the caucus to the cafeteria. We continued to set up tables until there were none left. Final count 14 Obama and 8 Hillery. There was a short but loud argument over who got the 2/3 person delagate which was settled with the rule book. It was tossed. Side note, my detractors happy, I was fired.