Every now and then I encounter one of America’s great institutions and it reminds me again of what a great country this is. Haven’t felt that way too often in the last seven years, but today’s Democratic caucus was one of those moments.
Next door neighbor Chris is our precinct committee chair, and he recruited me to be the Official Tally Person for our caucus. We went early to set things up, but first came to the wrong place. Surely the Bush/Cheney signs on every table were some kind of a joke, we wondered aloud. No one in the room laughed. Yikes – time to split. I think I could outrun any of these folks, but still wouldn’t want to be caught in the hands of a humorless Republican.
My Dad was a Republican precinct committee chair when I was a kid. Seems to me that a small handful of people (maybe 5-6) would meet in our basement rec room to discuss candidates and choose delegates. Today seven precincts gathered in a middle school cafeteria. People kept pouring in – we had 46 just from our precinct. The combined group was so large that at least three precincts moved to classrooms to conduct their business.
People in their 70s and 80s, college students, parents with young kids, marrieds, singles, partners – they were all there. It was a lively, friendly group of neighbors meeting each other and talking about our political future. Several identified themselves as undecided, and listened to others share their reasons for supporting one candidate over another.
We ended up with 27% supporting Hillary, 73% supporting Obama, and no one left undecided. That means that we are sending one Clinton delegate and three Obama delegates to the district caucus in April.
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Engaging in face-to-face conversations is a welcome change from reading news articles or listening to pundits gas about national trends. The chance to participate in politics at this neighbor-to-neighbor level is just too good to pass up. I think it’s the best part of the political process. Interacting with people I see at the grocery store, out for a walk, or at PTA meetings helps me recover a sense that I can make a difference, and that my ideas and my vote matter. I’ll fight for that perspective any day.