Today is the day that political party caucuses are being held across my state. I’ve never attended one before and now I’ve helped organize one. Ooo, I wonder if there’s still time to get a disco ball, turn on some American tunes, and just have fun! Too much?
But honestly, okay, what is a caucus?
I’ll explain how it all works in my state. Wherever you live it might be similar or completely different, so don’t be afraid to research how it’s done in your state.
A caucus is basically a mini election where you get to select by popular vote your representative (called delegate) who will vote on your behalf (and your entire neighborhood – called precinct) in the follow-up meeting, called a convention. These selected delegates vote on which candidates will make it to the primary election ballot. This is because in my state each political party can only have one candidate for each open position in government.
Since politics is boring and divisive, I’m going to create an analogy in hopes of making it more understandable.
Let’s say there’s a United Supper Association which sets grocery prices and makes policy about how we manage our meals. The United Supper Association is made up of representatives from all over.
Since food is so important to so many people, and food is as diverse as we are, several groups have formed around the country to help promote certain aspects of food and food health. There’s a group called Foodie which promotes more exotic, flavorful foods from around the world. They have taken a particular interest helping people enjoy eating and getting more variety on every grocery store shelf. There’s another group called Healthie which believes that people tend to eat too much and that by going back to the essentials, berries and roots, we’ll all live longer and healthier.
There are a number of other groups too, but no one really pays attention to them.
It’s election time and there are several open positions at the United Supper Association. The Foodie and Healthie groups are both hoping to get members of their group into some key positions to turn their ideas into law.
The Healthie group votes to select their representative – who will go on to the general election where everyone votes – and of the list of candidates, one starts to emerge as a clear winner. Turns out, this candidate is a former member of the Foodie group. Healthie group chair person is worried that this particular member, a former Foodie, won’t stay true to the Healthie group’s objectives. She’s got to do something to prevent the former Foodie from making it to the ballot.
And that’s how law makers started putting together complicated ways to filter out candidates – to protect party objectives.
A convention and caucus system was created to filter candidates. So if a Foodie or anyone else tries to run as a Healthie, the impostor will be found out and won’t make it past the convention and onto the ballot.
Bringing it back to the real world for a moment, we have a real problem in my state. We’ve become so caught up in these ideologies and agendas that we’ve stopped seeing each other as fellow citizens! We struggle to see compromise, commonality, and simple common sense. And the complex caucus and convention system doesn’t help. In fact, in many neighborhoods, it works to further divide friend and neighbor.
The political party I joined doesn’t select delegates at the caucuses. Instead, every registered member is automatically a delegate. There isn’t a concern about ideological purity because commonality and common sense are more important. Why not see the good in the Foodie, Healthie, and a variety of other groups?
So, anyway, what’s it like in your state?
I’ve also been confused by what a caucus is. I understand better from your blog post that it’s just a way of sending in one person to vote for a candidate for a section of my area (whether it be of my town or my county).
Hmm….I liked your analogy with the Healthie and Foodie. There’s obvious prejudices between groups that don’t agree on things. At your conclusion, you make a pitch that if we can see everyone as ‘people’ and if we can find common ground, even with our disagreements, then we might have a chance to help our government get better at solving society’s problems.
I would like that to happen.
I’d like to see our political parties to wean themselves off of the power that comes from running the government and get back to common sense. With respect as a backdrop, I’d like for politicians to learn how to talk and listen to each other better.
Excellent comment!! I completely agree!