Barack for President: Caucusing in Washington

I am a precinct delegate for Barack Obama! I was one of two Obama delegates assigned/elected during our caucus this afternoon. TB was elected as an alternate. Clinton received the remaining two delegates from our four-delegate precinct. I’ll get to that after the break.

Barack Obama - Change We Can Believe In

TB and I caucused with fellow precinct members today here in Washington. Democratic delegates in our state are decided by caucus, not the presidential primary (which happens February 19th). Accordingly, in order to make our delegate preferences known, we had to participate in the first of 3 levels of statewide caucuses: the Precinct Caucus.

We reside in Kirkland and our neighborhood falls within a precinct assigned to Rose Hill Elementary School. That was great for us since we live just a few blocks away. We arrived about 15 minutes before the official 1:30 PM kick-off. Washington is a blue state and this election has some high-profile democratic nominees with very motivated supporters. The entire parking lot and surrounding area was packed with cars. Midway down a side street a block down from the school, we located a spot suitable for the trusty 626. TB and I walked back to the school and became part of the vast human machine known as the democratic process. What ensued over the next two hours was an experiment in semi-controlled pandemonium and it felt great.

Our precinct had 24 in-person voters and one person who indicated their preference but had to leave prior to the actual caucusing. One random guy was handed the packet to lead the delegate selection process for our precinct but he seemed frazzled and unconfident. After the first round of voting when everyone had the chance to indicate their preference, the tally was 12 for Obama, 8 for Clinton, 2 for Edwards and 3 Undecided. The 24 of us then engaged in a lively, cordial dialogue regarding the three candidates Obama, Clinton and Edwards. After a few one-minute speeches, we did another round of voting and the result was 13 for Obama, 9 for Clinton, 2 for Edwards and 1 Undecided—Obama and Clinton split two of the Undecided votes.

vote Those Edwards supporters believed wholeheartedly they were doing a great service keeping their candidate in play. I find such behavior destructive and distracting. When the candidate you support quits, for whatever reason, you should throw in the towel too. Why support a runner if he is no longer running? If it is about showing support for his ideals and platform, why not cast your vote for Bill Clinton, JFK or FDR? They are about as likely to be elected President in 2008 as Edwards.

The bad news for the Edwards faithful was we only had 4 delegates allocated to our precinct and the split was 2.08 for Obama, 1.44 for Clinton and 0.32 for Edwards. Of course, you can only assign whole delegates to a candidate so the process resulted in 2 for Obama, 2 for Clinton and 0 for Edwards. Did that persuade them to change their vote? No.

We Obama supporters were hoping to sway those two Edwards supporters and the Undecided voter but they wouldn’t budge. We needed all 3 to shift the delegate allocation to 3 Obama, 1 Clinton. I even made a speech regarding the important role charisma, vision and oratorical skills played in inspiring and mobilizing our nation throughout its history from the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation, Women’s Suffrage, World War II, Civil Rights and even the War on Terror. None of the leaders during those times brought about change based on their experience. Many had no experience to rely on to tackle the challenges they faced. What they had was the audacity of hope and a desire for change.

Of course my actual speech was not as eloquent or constructed as what I just wrote but it was effective enough to get me elected as one of Obama’s delegates. TB is my alternate. I also just learned one of my best friends is also an Obama delegate for his precinct. We will be attending the Legislative District Caucuses on Saturday, April 5, to take things to the next level.

6 Replies to “Barack for President: Caucusing in Washington”

  1. Hey, Keith. Congrats on being elected as a precinct delegate. :party: As you already know, John and I also caucused today. In our precinct, 101 people voted to select 6 delegates. At first count, there were 74 of us in support of Obama, 24 for Clinton and three undecided. After a brief spell of good-natured discussion which I could not hear in such a loud and crowded place, we had a second and final count. The final tally was 77 for Obama, 23 for Clinton and 1 still undecided. With these results, Obama earns 5 delegates and Clinton gains 1. The selection of delegates and alternates was pretty quick and painless. Overall, it was a novel process that I feel privileged to be part of. I look forward to hearing your account of the district caucus in April. Obama for President!

    Char

  2. Hey, Char. The overwhelming support Obama received from precincts like yours is obviously what propelled him to such a major victory in Washington overall. I hear he won every county in the state except one. That is an amazing feat considering how different WA voters are politically on opposite sides of the Cascade mountains.

  3. We were in the same precinct as Char. So I can concur the overwhelming Obama support. However I had no interest in becoming a delegate – actually I found( http://digitalleon.com/blog/?p=91 ) the whole caucus process poorly organized and a general waste of my time. I feel a primary would have been a much more efficient use of my time. Especially with my 8 month pregnant wife with me.

  4. I like the human-to-human interaction caucusing provides vs. ballot casting. Sure, it’s disorganized and can be quite stressful but a couple hours every four years isn’t too bad a sacrifice to participate in a lively discussion with one’s neighbors regarding the political landscape.

    The thing I enjoy most about our political process is the debate. People’s minds can change through open idea exchange. Witness the Undecided voters who got onboard during our precinct caucus.

  5. I just wish the debate was separate from the process of actually voting. The current system just doesn’t scale in a world where people are actually participating in the political process. What I didn’t understand was that I could have left after I signed in – if I have to caucus again I will definitely take advantage of that fact. (One of the things they should have clarified rather than droning on about how cool caucuses are)

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