Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dear Democrats...(in Washington State)

It's a nominating process, not an election.
As the discussion of “primary vs caucus” comes up occasionally, I have noticed people seem sort of resigned to us using the primary soon. They say things like “it's what the voters want.” They are fine with the notion that this is an election and not our nominating process. Anyone can say they are a democrat and participate in our caucus nominating process. If we use the taxpayer funded Presidential primary in this open primary state, it will no longer be Democrats who nominate our candidates it will be anybody and everybody.
There is a confusion of terms that has very successfully distorted the discussion regarding choosing the nominees we, as a party, place for nomination to the general election. Using the tax payer funded election primary election, in my opinion, is fraught with peril and unintended consequences, as we currently are experiencing in the August primary where it has turned into a top two winnowing process. It no longer has anything to do with our nominating process. It is possible under this circumstance for no Democrat to survive to run in the general election. And mischief will be easy. Voters will not have to change registration. An “operation chaos” could be a stunning success in our state.
We Democrats should define our process and be the ones who choose the nominees we send to the general election. The bar to participate should be no lower than being willing to publicly register as a Democrat to even consider the primary. As it is now, sign-in as a Democrat, is the only bar to participate. Using the primary, if someone wasn't willing to register(when registering to vote) as a Democrat, it would just mean they wouldn't be able to participate in our party's nominating process. They may choose to participate in another party's nominating process. They would continue to secretly vote for whomever they wish in the general election, as we all do now. If we lower that bar we will have given our process and our voice away. Anybody and everybody will influence the candidates our party sends to the voters. As I work day in and day out to choose the best candidates to advance the values we stand for, the thought that someone who doesn't necessarily think of themselves as a Democrat would have the same voice in this process is very offensive to me.
It is here I plead with Democrats to hang on to and pass on a living, breathing democracy to those that come after. There are many things we can improve. I advocate making proxy available to anybody who wishes to use one for whatever reason. All they would have to do is request it and send it in by the deadline, as it is now, so it can be forwarded to precinct in plenty of time to be counted in the tally on caucus day. If the precincts were made smaller and we could continue to get PCO's (precinct committee officer.....i like to say “i didn't even know what one was, and now I is one.)recruited, we would have a better idea who the Democrats are. As it was, I sent out postcards to all my A's and B's (approximately 100 in my precinct) personally calling them to caucus and it cost me less than $30. It could be done earlier with instructions for the proxy process and contact information. The PCO is the elected position closest to the represented. I think we can continue to demonstrate the democratic process now, if we choose to take the opportunity.
The idea of using the tax payer funded primary election as our means of nominating our parties candidates has been marketed to us very successfully and we are very close to completely “giving it away.” I hope for those who come after we don't fall for it.

and........I am so pleased that our nominee, Barack Obama, has such awesome community organizing skills. Our community is on life support and there is much work to be done by all of us.......Everyone must be called to participate.... We should make it better not throw it away.....and I believe we can. here is a great piece on the subject.....

Kill Caucuses or Not? (Answer: Don't Kill Caucuses!)
by: tremayneMon Jun 09, 2008 at 16:01

Well before the primaries started many people advocated ridding our system of caucuses based primarily on the argument they are undemocratic. Markos was one of the louder voices on this. The main "caucuses are bad" argument is simply that
participation rates are much lower than for traditional primaries. In primary states you can vote all day (about 12 hours) or you can vote absentee or, in some states, you can vote early. In caucus states there is only one day you can vote and you have to be there at a set time and it's going to last a while (in most states). Naturally this lowers participation.
As the 2008 primary race unfolded it became clear to many Hillary Clinton supporters that caucuses were indeed "bad" just as it became clear to many Barack Obama supporters that caucuses were "not so bad" or perhaps "awesome." Even Kos has been changing his tune.
As Chris Bowers has noted, Obama's strength in caucuses is largely due to his strength with party activists. Because a certain level of commitment (and willingness to publicly declare your vote) is required for caucuses, the people that show up tend me more politically motivated than your average primary voter. Some have argued that caucuses are good because they reward the activists. I am uncomfortable with this line of argument myself.
full post at Open Left

5 comments:

Poindexter P. Parkenfarker said...

Nice to hear you using good conservative language (taxpayer funded...;)

I still like the 70 year open blanket primary and now that it's gone, and the Grange has sponsored and fought for this Lousiana top two primary system, it seems that we have a system that is ripe for organized and unorganized shenanigans from the 2 major parties (supporters or other influences)
I know this is only slightly related to the caucus vs primary for the presidential race, but I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on this Lousiana style primary?
I would still prefer a primary with the top vote getter from each party (including the minor parties)

by the way, did you put july 11th aside for the Bells Game?

jpeg said...

i want Democrats, the party i belong to, to choose the nominee our party sends to the general election. i am not in favor of giving up the caucus process. and it certainly should not be considered in an open primary state.
i actually spend hours of my time working to make our party work to recruit, support, and get elected candidates who will represent us. i am involved in the process of expressing our values in our platform. i am hoping to change our course through the work we are doing in my party. it is a messy business. we discuss, disagree and hammer out the platform regularly.

it matters who is our president. i am appalled at what is being done in my name right now.

i would like to see instant run-off voting so minor parties and independents could be more accurately counted.
so the short answer is i don't care what kind of primary, i want my party NOT to give away OUR nominating process.

the bells on july 11th it is!

Poindexter P. Parkenfarker said...

The caucus system is also kind of fun too.
It brings national politics to the neighborhood friends level.
In my precinct, both parties had a good influx of new folks to the caucus process.

My Democrat counterpart and I talked afterwards at our local diner and compared notes (not on strategy obviously), but on the enthusiastic internal differences and participation of younger voters.
Both she and I thought it to be a good thing that both parties are having an influx of new folks.
Don't know about your party, but the influx of 18 year olds into ours brought our average age all the way down to 65...

Cool, The 11th should be fun.
Nice to watch some ferndale kids who I've watched sinced I coached little league.
There are kids on the Bells this year from Sumas to Bellingham. Not like last year.

Holy Smokes, there are more Lockers coming up through the ranks...
See you and Citizen Steve there!

Poindexter P. Parkenfarker said...

ps, don't let Sam T. know that we mostly agree on this caucus thingie...neither you folks or I will ever hear the end of it...

jpeg said...

no i won't let on....
i agree about the caucus process...i almost had my 82yo mom talked into going to her first republican caucus when i told her folks would try to win her over. i like meetin' and greetin' and i think it does our community alot of good. i am so much enjoying meeting others in my community and the talent we have among us is truly inspiring. i am a real sucker for a youngster doing good stuff.