12.3.06

elections: Caucuses -- Wast of Time or Bottom-Up Democracy?

Here's a blog entry about the Minnesota caucuses, written by a Californian. This person went to Arlington High School in Saint Paul, and has a nice entry about it.

So, what's an outsider to make of the DFL caucus I saw? My DFL friends are pretty cynical about the process. They see a bunch of bleeding heart liberals (like themselves) who vote for feel good resolutions and can't even fill up a slate of delegates to carry their positions forward to the next level.

I came away rather more impressed. I organize in elections. I am impressed by any party system that can attract 85 people from a precinct to a meeting on a rainy March evening, not to cheer candidates, but to express their political hopes and ensure they have some representation at more influential levels of the endorsement process. There are not many corners of U.S. democracy where you get that kind of participation at the grassroots. Sure, these were the experienced and the comfortable, but they do show up and nearly all of them do some work in electoral battles in a highly contested state. That's terrific.

I went to caucuses for the first time this year, and was surprised at how easy it was. But, it was kind of like choir-preaching -- in that nobody disagreed with anyone, and nothing of substance was done or resolved.

Any thoughts?

2 comments:

Victoria said...

I recently to Woodbury, from southwest Minneapolis via Crocus Hill in Saint Paul (that is, la-di-da liberal neighborhoods). I went to my DFL caucus with a lot of unfair assumptions about the state of grassroots politics in the surburbs.

I could not have been more wrong. The attendance was higher than in my Saint Paul precinct (although much less than in my precinct in Minneapolis). There was much greater diversity in age, race and gender. And most of all: diversity of thought. For the first time in my caucus-going life we actually debated resolutions - and rejected some of them. It made me proud.

Victoria said...

Uh, I meant I recently MOVED to Woodbury..