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Welcome to my caucus
Old 02-06-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
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Welcome to my caucus

Minnesota is a caucus state and I dutifully went to my precinct's democratic caucus. There were more participants this year than I have ever seen. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of University students. Our neighborhood also has a number of older activists who always come to political events and often organize events and dedicate themselves to various causes.

At least 75% of the caucus goers in my precinct were young people and probably were students. The rest were mostly in the activist category, with a smattering of people, mostly older people, that I didn't know.

Our precinct presidential vote was 140 Obama, 37 Clinton, and 2 for Edwards.

The truly interesting part is that you can propose resolutions for our democratic party's platform. When passed, they go to the next level, the county convention, which will pare them down, and then on to the state.

I spoke about national health care and proposed and had a resolution passed. The students were well prepared with some resolutions dealing with environmental matters, such as biofuel and reducing use of corn and moving towards grasses and algae. Other resolutions were presented and passed concerning education financing.

A resolution a passed supporting gay marriage.

By this time the group had started to thin out and probably only 30 people remained, the activists and a few students. The resolutions started to get weird. One person made an awkward resolution about medical bankruptcy. I explained how bankruptcy worked. The resolution ended up stating that there would be no limits on the number of times you could file bankruptcy with medical bills and there would be no means testing. I voted no. Everyone else voted for it.

Some proposed a resolution that absolutely no more development occur along lake superior. I said that I understand the issue of losing our lake shore, but we have to keep in mind that we would be depriving land owners of use of the undeveloped land without compensation. Managed to get the resolution changed to one that supported buying of more park land along lake superior. Lot of work to fuss that one around and I know our little local caucus has minimal effect, but I do wish sometimes that the party activists would think a bit more about the effects of what their proposals will be.

By this time I was burning out on trying to make the resolutions more moderate. I was worried someone might call me a Republican or something. At least i was elected a delegate to the next level before I started to argue against half the resolutions.

Someone proposed that no for profit corporation could lobby congress. I talked about how our constitution allows us to petition congress and basically guaranties our right to lobby, therefor people who work for corporations have the right to lobby. Plus, it is not very fair to allow the sierra club to lobby but not the logging industry. Some said "who cares." But the resolution finally was changed to one to limit the dollar amount a lobby can spend on a specific piece of legislation. I abstained, it passed.

Someone proposed that anyone who wants to stay at home and raise their children be paid minimum wage with benefits. I asked, by whom? Answer: taxes. I said how about a longer FMLA leave period? Nope. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, with two no votes, mine and one young woman.

After a bunch of other resolutions, we were tired. We quit and went home. Thank God, who knows what was going to come up next.

Nice to see the interest of all the young people.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:11 AM   #2
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Interesting to read your post on how the system works. However, sounds like some people were a bit naive with their proposals. What does being a delegate at the next level involve?
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:20 AM   #3
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Ok, i'm naive. MSNBC reports: "Obama was collecting the overwhelming majority of votes cast by blacks — a factor in victories in Alabama and Georgia.
Clinton’s continued strong appeal among Hispanics — she was winning nearly six in 10 of their votes — was a big factor in her California triumph, and in her victory in Arizona, too."
I think there are far more Hispanics than blacks in the US, but don't know the proportion of legals. Can the illeagals vote? A bit tongue in cheek. Voting went better than expected - thought i was going to get up to find that after all votes had been counted that George W. Bush was a surprise winner with 103% of the vote as tabulated by Diebold.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:33 AM   #4
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Interesting to read your post on how the system works. However, sounds like some people were a bit naive with their proposals. What does being a delegate at the next level involve?
All the local delegates meet and do the same thing all over again, narrowing down the democratic party platform. We will also elect delegates to the state convention. Depending on the timing, I am going to try to get to that level.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:47 AM   #5
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All the local delegates meet and do the same thing all over again, narrowing down the democratic party platform. We will also elect delegates to the state convention. Depending on the timing, I am going to try to get to that level.
Martha for President!
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:48 AM   #6
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IMO it is great that we have such an inclusionary process. However, it scares the sh*t out of me when I see the level of naitivity (sp?) and sometimes down right craziness of our fellow citizens. This starts to explain some of the crazy sh*t that comes out of our legislators.
It reminds me of the day of jury duty that my DS related to me. I won't bore you with the details, but also very scary. If I'm guilty, I will demand a jury trial.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:49 AM   #7
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Very, very interesting Martha. Thanks for posting that!

Regarding the resolutions......

Based on the great experience DW and I had at the Duluth shore last summer (nice hotel, great restaurants, pubs and ice cream shops, fantastic scenery), I'd vote for more public ownership of lake front property there too! I thought the shoreline being public with walkways/board walks and the areas behind those being private with restaurants and other accomodations was terrific.

Your caucus system sounds very interesting. I grew up a Chicago Daley Democrat deeply immersed in Democratic Machine politics with my dad, his brother and his sister's husband all being city employees. Having Democrats in power in Chicago was key to food on the table! It would be interesting to see what a Democratic caucus would be like here.......
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:53 AM   #8
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Well that was very interesting, thanks. Old fashioned government -- can't help but picturing you all leaving the caucus in horse and buggy.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:56 AM   #9
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Can the illeagals vote? A bit tongue in cheek.
I suppose Martha could answer much better, but at my caucus they didn't check identity and, if there was cross-referencing with registered voters, it certainly didn't happen there. We just filled out our name and address, signed our name and wrote in our vote.

The turnout was diverse... well, as diverse as our area gets. There was a good mix of young and old, white, hispanic, african american. There was a large Somali contingent. I didn't stick around past entering my vote for presidential candidate and making sure we had enough delegates for the county convention. One gentleman going to the convention will just make the "must be 18 by November" cut off.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the number of volunteers and the fact that the majority of them were high school students. Granted, our caucus was at the high school and maybe their teachers bribed them somehow, but it was still great to see them there (one girl was high fiving people on the way out of the dfl section and shouting "yeah, go democratic process... wooohoo". either brilliant satire or honest expression, I'm not sure which)

a lot of families brought their young teens.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:59 AM   #10
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-- can't help but picturing you all leaving the caucus in horse and buggy.
Nahhh. But she was carrying her whip!
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:01 AM   #11
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I said that I understand the issue of losing our lake shore, but we have to keep in mind that we would be depriving land owners of use of the undeveloped land without compensation.
Oh, you grownups always spoil the fun!
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:08 AM   #12
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The resolutions started to get weird.
If anyone saw Leno's "Jaywalking" bit last night, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Made me realize I'd be better off if I didn't dwell too much on the intelligence/judgment/political savvy of the voters who elect our leaders. Conversely, it made me wonder why our elected leaders aren't even worse than they are!
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:06 AM   #13
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I suppose Martha could answer much better, but at my caucus they didn't check identity and, if there was cross-referencing with registered voters, it certainly didn't happen there. We just filled out our name and address, signed our name and wrote in our vote.
Same here.



Quote:
One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the number of volunteers and the fact that the majority of them were high school students. Granted, our caucus was at the high school and maybe their teachers bribed them somehow, but it was still great to see them there (one girl was high fiving people on the way out of the dfl section and shouting "yeah, go democratic process... wooohoo". either brilliant satire or honest expression, I'm not sure which)

a lot of families brought their young teens.
Lots of volunteer students at our caucus as well. One young person was going to turn 18 the next day--she was so broken hearted that she couldn't vote.

Announcement of the winners after the ballets were counted were by the kids. It was very sweet.
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Old 02-06-2008, 01:15 PM   #14
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I think there are far more Hispanics than blacks in the US, but don't know the proportion of legals.
On the ABC election coverage show last night, Diane Sawyer said that Hispanics are 14.X% of the US population and African Americans are 13.X%. Not sure where she got her numbers from.

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Old 02-06-2008, 01:39 PM   #15
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By this time I was burning out on trying to make the resolutions more moderate. I was worried someone might call me a Republican or something.
The healing has begun! Welcome aboard!
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:06 PM   #16
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martha, very good of you. i've been somewhat involved in my past but never to the extent you're describing. i don't think i'm into that now but i could see being so involved after i return from a few years of world travel. your efforts are admirable and in reading your review of the process i look forward to getting more involved into my future.

in the meanwhile, would you mind passing a resolution to get me minimum wage for the hours i spend gallivanting at the bars at night. thank you for your support.
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:16 PM   #17
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If anyone saw Leno's "Jaywalking" bit last night, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Made me realize I'd be better off if I didn't dwell too much on the intelligence/judgment/political savvy of the voters who elect our leaders.
Right. Education seems much worse that it used to be -- is that true? Sometimes I see it as a downward spiral -- poor education --> poor decisions about education --> poorer education, etc.
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:31 PM   #18
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I don't know if it's the Obama/Clinton race or the Iraq war or Jon Stewart's Daily Show for that matter, but in my neighborhood, I'm seeing a lot more activism and political interest -- particularly among the young voters -- than in any previous election cycle.

And while some of the discussions are pretty naive, at least the young people are getting interested in the issues that they will be inheriting from us "elders" (read: baby boomer parents).

(And FWIW, Leno's producers go out of their way to find those dummies for Jaywalking. Before the camera rolls, there's a lot of prompting and suggestions of how best to answer Jay's questions.)
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:36 PM   #19
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a lot more activism and political interest -- particularly among the young voters
Yes. My 100% apolitical daughter went to an Obama rally.

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Before the camera rolls, there's a lot of prompting and suggestions of how best to answer Jay's questions.
I'm sure you're right, but how do you know that?
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:46 PM   #20
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Right. Education seems much worse that it used to be -- is that true? Sometimes I see it as a downward spiral -- poor education --> poor decisions about education --> poorer education, etc.
In my darker moments, I wonder if the politicians aren't actually all conspiring to keep the public uneducated. If people had a basic understanding of logic, cause/effect, and just the most very basic understanding of statistics,and most of all, the concept of 'no free lunch', the politicians would need to come up with real things to say instead of their pandering babble.

Thanks for posting Martha, very interesting. I guess it is encouraging to see the involvement, but discouraging to see the lack of understanding and consequences of some of the proposals. I think it would be great if they added some kind of semi-formal 'Devil's Advocate' to the process. Not only would this help educate people about the consequences, but it would help prepare the proposal for the opposition it could get in the Legislature (unless the Dems get full control of both ). BTW, that's a non-partisan , I think we are best served by grid-lock.

I'm sure the people making the proposals were well intentioned. Your knowledge/experience in some of those areas made you aware of the negatives. That is what gets me concerned when I hear some the environmental proposals - people without some background are not aware of the real consequences. It all sounds good when someone ignores the facts.

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