Someone please help me out here. Why do we still do caucuses? Talk about a dumb idea that’s totally not 21st-century friendly. I’m still in the recovery phase from Saturday’s Democratic event. Oh and before you go and get all up in my “bidness” because I’m a Democrat: Calm yourself because I’m totally bi when it comes to choosing a political gender. I swing both ways and after Saturday I’ll probably never swing by another caucus again.
I’m not some campaign newbie. I caucused when I lived in Nevada and it was bearable. I’m now 100 percent certain that’s because the voting venue was casino-adjacent and people would briefly leave to play the slots and grab a cocktail. I have a very good memory of talking about the candidates with a mojito in my left hand.
I fear that not even the refreshing libation of crushed mint and rum could have saved Saturday’s Dumpster fire disguised as a caucus. Now to be sure, the dedicated volunteers running it were doing the best they could and were beyond diligent about following the rules. It’s just that the premise is so outdated.
Once I was herded into a packed high school auditorium with what felt like zero A/C (Dear Blue Valley Schools: When someone rents your facility for an event, please use your HVAC system), I knew this wasn’t going to be a stellar experience of democracy in action.
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Seriously, I don’t even know where to begin my tale of woe. Let’s start with the passing of what looked like a plastic orange juice pitcher around a sweltering auditorium for cash donations. OK, I get it. You need money and you have a captive audience, but you’re not really instilling confidence or pride when your call to action is about how broke the JoCo Dems are. And I’m more than a little uncomfortable with money exchanging hands where I’m voting.
That was nothing compared to the lackluster/lame campaign speeches. I don’t know how the decision was made or if it was a door prize, but the folks giving the “get everybody fired up” oration for each candidate needed a sugar rush or something. I’m not kidding you when I share that I almost rushed the stage and grabbed the mic. Trust me, it would have been a community service. My butt was halfway out of the seat when I confided in the very lovely woman sitting next to me that I was going for it. She told me I should, but something made me sit all the way back down.
All of the above were just mild irritations. What really had me ticked off was the “voting” process. When you arrived, they scribbled the first letter of your candidate’s last name on your hand in red Sharpie. (Yep, it’s 2016 and we’re using a Sharpie scribble on flesh for data capturing.) After that, you picked your seat in the auditorium based on whom you were voting for. Then there was an initial, unofficial count of votes, which led to the wooing of the undecided.
If you want to be really popular for about 10 minutes, go to a caucus as an undecided voter. For a brief moment in time, everyone will want to be your friend. All except for me because I wouldn’t want you voting for my candidate if you’re goofy enough to show up for a caucus wearing the stickers of both Sanders and Clinton.
After that ridiculous exercise in persuasion, the ceremonial hand-off of the yellow legal pad commenced. Everyone was supposed to write down their name and the candidate they were voting for. The honor code was now in effect because you were urged to just write down your own name and not let your non-voting age children in the audience sign the sheet.
We’re in the digital age where our fingerprint is required to open our phones and we’re voting by legal pad. Are you kidding me? (What’s next — stopping the proceedings to mimeograph some copies or look up something in a card catalog?)
Next it was time to back up the legal pad with a physical counting of hands. Each row was instructed to raise their hand and then those hands were counted by a trio of volunteers. Thomas Jefferson had to be rolling over in his grave because I’m pretty sure I saw some people raising both their hands and, no, it wasn’t me.
Finally we were released, or at least I think we were. People just started getting up and leaving. I jumped up and followed the crowd out the door because I felt woozy from what I sure was imminent heat stroke and disappointment. I don’t care if caucuses have a proud electorate history or if that’s the way it’s always been done. We the people of the 21st century deserve better and so does democracy.