Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another New Experience

You’d have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the big political happenings in the US over the past several months. Has it been a year already? In my opinion, whatever it has been, it’s been way too long already and we have nine months to go! If I had my way, none of the candidates could throw their hat in the ring until four weeks before the election. One of the benefits being the individuals would actually be putting in the time and doing the work for which we are already paying most of them, with a four week "leave of absence." [There, that’s one of my gripes.]

Last night I attended my first caucus ever. I have never been a fan of politics, but since it has become the topic of conversation in nearly every activity in which I’m involved, I decided to check it out. First of all, my place of meeting is the high school building from which Heidi graduated. I thought I left home in plenty of time, but was totally surprised when I got into bumper-to-bumper traffic a mile from the school. Judging from the cars going into and turning around and coming out of the middle school a few blocks from the high school, I concluded the parking lot and "overflow" parking lots were full, so I turned onto a side street, parked my car, and walked about four blocks to the high school. It wasn’t that cold outside, the sidewalks were partially shoveled and I was wearing my boots, so I started out. Later that evening I learned the middle school was the meeting place of the other political party caucus. (duh?)

Entering the building, I was met by a volunteer asking me the number of my precinct. "I don’t know," I shyly replied. So she instructed me to get in line where another volunteer would give me that information and tell me the room number to which I should report. That was my first surprise: meeting in precincts. I assumed our entire party for our city would be meeting together in the auditorium or gymnasium.

Next surprise: Entering the designated room, I learned I had to sign in. That’s fine. I found a chair/desk in the front row (I like hearing everything and don’t like the distraction of having folks in front of me who may or may not be paying attention.) My first thought was, "Wow, Heidi had classes for three years in this building. I wonder if she ever had a class in room C14. Did she sit in this same chair?"

Next surprise: An attractive, professional looking woman at the front of the room called the meeting to order at 7. She asked us to stand for the Pledge of Allegience to the American flag (I liked this a lot.) She said that was following the caucus rules. (I didn’t know there were rules or procedures to follow. I know, how naïve can one be?) She said we would be casting our straw ballots (small pieces of paper) at exactly 7:30 and that they had to be totaled by 7:45. I helped pass out ballots. When we ran out, homemade ones were passed out. To everyone’s amazement, people kept coming into the room. Reports were that every room – 32 in all – was overflowing. No one predicted this crowd!

More news: We were there not only to vote for our favorite Presidential candidate, but to elect ten delegates and ten alternates for the convention. I was very careful to sit on my hands and not give any eye-to-eye contact during this part. How on earth would I be able to fit in another activity this year?! After a few minutes, we satisfied the lists and voted on them.

Next business: submit resolutions. Our group had a few, but they were very lengthy and had come from outside organizations. I stayed for the voting of the one dealing with immigration, then quietly left. After all, it was nearing my bedtime and I had to walk back to my car.

I was glad I went and hope to have some time to think about the whole process. I think I’ll go again. It helps to know what to expect.

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