Up until 48-hours before it was to start, I was determined to stay away from the 2004 Washington Democratic Presidential Precinct Caucus. I’ve come to regard the whole 2-party system as tweedle-dee hoo-ha, so I’ve been steering clear of it. I have a good record of voting (frequently for the losing side) whenever there’s an election, but these party functions are a lot of bunk. Earlier this week, it started to weigh on me that it just wasn’t right to let this opportunity go by. Politics is an art of misrepresentation, so I decided I could pretend to be a big D democrat for a few hours without regret. If things get too easy for politicians, they get lazy, so I decided it was my duty to express some support for (and I mean this with nothing but deep respect) the best idealist in the pack, the Quixote from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich.
The meeting was at Wedgwood Elementary, and they had a dozen or more precincts packed into the little auditorium. Before someone found a key to allow some of the precincts to move to the gym, there was standing room only, and we were packed in there like crags on John Kerry’s face. There was a comment that it was a good thing no fire marshalls were present, because the place was certainly past the legal limit. I assured everyone that the Fire Fighters were tight with Kerry, so no worries! (The photo below shows the back third of the room.)
Once we got down to business, my precinct had 25 participants, from whom we were permitted to select five delegates. I made a pitch that almost swayed enough folks to win a delegate slot for Kucinich, but when it came to making a commitment to going on to the next step (i.e., attending the district caucus in April), none of us were willing, so the three Kucinich supporters, two uncommitteds, and one Clark supporter passed on to split our precinct’s five delegate slots three for Kerry and two for Dean. That doubled Dean’s original strength and rounded Kerry’s up to a nice crowd of 15.
There were several Kerry supporters who weren’t particularly comfortable. They liked Kucinich and they respected the spirit of Dean (to whom credit was given for the big turn-out), but the “electability” issue swayed them into Kerry’s camp. One of the fellows told me that he just didn’t feel right doing anything that would impede Kerry’s momentum. I can’t argue with that kind of pragmatism.
This herd of pragmatists had avoided ever participating in a previous caucus, with one exception, and the exception was me. So, I volunteered to serve as precinct caucus chair and tapped a neighbor from the other end of my building to serve as precinct caucus secretary. Together we went through all the motions and paperwork, and when it was all over, every one of those other 23 thanked us and shook our hands. We all wished each other good luck in November and went on to resume our normal weekend activities.