Sunday, April 29, 2007

WA. Democrats Vote to Keep Presidential Caucuses

From 790AM - KGMI Local News:
Democratic Committee Votes for Caucuses
Washington's Democratic Party will continue using caucuses instead of the presidential primary election. At a meeting held yesterday in Bellingham, members voted against an amendment that would have used the primary election in choosing delegates. Republicans also mainly use caucuses, but have allocated delegates to varying degrees based on the primary results. They will meet in June to decide what to do next year.
On Thursday, the Bellingham Herald carried an editorial urging the Democrats to use a Presidential primary instead of caucuses. If the editorial board had any chance of influencing the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, they blew it with their closing sentence: "We hope the Democrat Party faithful meeting here Saturday understand that and will honor it." (the online edition was corrected to read "Democratic Party" after the print edition went out.)

It wasn't possible to scrap next May's Presidential primary because the Washington State Republican Party uses the primary to pick a token number of delegate to their convention. So it's the Republicans who are responsible for the $9.7 million of taxpayer money to be spent on the primary.

Part of the Herald's editorial said:
Democrats prefer to pick their convention delegates at sparsely attended caucus meetings. Those meetings require interested people to spend several hours talking about candidates before agreeing on whom to support.
And they seem to think it's a bad thing to spending several hours (once every four years) being part of the process of picking the Party's Presidential candidate. The General Election is there for citizens to decide which political party's candidate gets elected, but first the party's have to pick candidates.

There's more to democracy than just putting a mark on a ballot. Shortly before he was ousted, Saddam Hussien held an election in Iraq and being the only one on the ballot he got 99% of the votes, of course.

Democracy is a process. I can understand how folks who feel aligned with the Democratic Party would want to have a say in who the Presidential candidate is. But to have a say, they have to show up at the caucus. That's all it takes. Anyone who shows up and declares themself a Democrat can participate. The sparse attendance isn't because anyone is turned away at the door. Democracy isn't a spectator sport, you have to turn out if you want to play.

1 comment:

Emmett said...

While I supported the idea of having a primary next year, I agree with you about the open nature of the caucus system. It should be something that many people do participate in.

That said, it says something about the state of our democracy and our parties that around 2 percent of eligible voters take part in the process. I don't think we're doing enough as a party to encourage participation.