Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Doing the Texas Two Step: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the caucus

Many were thinking the Texas Two Step would be a mess. A month or so ago, Senator Clinton said that, within her strategy team, 'grown men were crying over it'.

But I've survived and even thrived in my second caucus experience, and I have to say I am now an enthusiastic fan of the caucus format. It might seem like caucusing is undemocratic, that it gets in the way of 'the will of the people'. But it's face to face, it's at least a bit more personal than a voting machine, and it's social.

If some of us are unaccustomed to caucusing, then let's have more of them, not less. How about caucusing every two years?

The big draw, whether in a presidential election or midterm election cycle, would be the introduction of resolutions and perhaps even referendums to be presented to the current Congress and administration. Caucuses are our chance to become more involved in direct democracy, and given the chance to practice them more regularly, every other spring, they could become even more so. And the quality of our democracy might well improve. Or, at the very least, we could feel we have a clear chance to take responsibility for how things are going.

It is, to some extent, our alienation from the party players and the powers that be that alienate us to the process and the workings of our government and the fate of our nation. Caucusing, even for just two hours every two years, would give us a chance to connect, a chance to affirm and to offer official criticism, a chance to feel involved and perhaps even truly become involved, dedicated to the grand tasks at hand.

Some would not want that responsibility. Some would resent the implication that the citizens are responsible, to some extent, to any extent. But isn't that what John Kennedy meant when he suggested we "ask what we could do for our country." It seems that a nationally instituted caucus, available in all states, would give us a chance to both ask and offer.

That, to me, would be a better democracy, a more democratic democracy, more social, more personal, more mature -- and more hopeful.


At 3/08/2008 5:19 AM, Anonymous rq said...

Try caususing in Houston, TX, at a small church on the outskirts of Memorial Park where they had 30 parking spaces. When I voted at 10 AM, I noticed that 254 people had voted by 9:30 AM. There were 4 precincts voting at this one location.

When I went back at 7:15 PM the narrow streets wer lined with cars that couldn't get into the parking lot, and in fact the parking lot was teeming with people waiting to sign in. I ended up walking 5 blocks to the church and standing in the parking lot for an hour or more before they got organized enough to even let people sign in for the correct precinct and the person of their choice. Hillary fans faced off with Obama fans and shook hands and said we'd work together in Nov!! No unruly mobs. Just poor planning and disorganization!!!

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