Did you know that Washington state held an important presidential election milestone this past weekend? That's right — while you were busy getting stoned at the nude beach, political hobbyists around the state gathered together to decide who gets to represent us at the national convention and cast the actual votes for Hillary and Bernie. So, if you really want to have a say in who gets to pick the Democratic nominee, this weekend was your chance to do it.
And by all accounts, it was a shitshow.
I won't try to explain the process of choosing delegates because 1.) it is boring, 2.) there is a 100% chance I will get some aspect of it wrong, and 3.) all you really need to know is that the process for choosing our leaders includes feats of physical endurance, and also getting really mad on the internet afterwards.
There's a thread on Reddit itemizing the woes. Among them: long lines to get in; a weird voting process; and rule changes that nobody seemed to understand. "The entire process seems to be one that values your voice only if you have the time and stamina to sit in a blazing hot room with a thousand other people for 9 hours straight," wrote one person.
Wrote others: "Yep! I was extremely excited to be a delegate. Never again. ... It took 8 hours before it finally let out. My butt hurts from the plastic gym bleachers." And: "I arrived around 12:20 for the 1PM start time... I wanted to run, but was exhausted and speeches for delegate election didn't start until 6pm. About 70 people lined up to speak. It was damn near 90 degrees in there, everyone was exhausted, and nobody had eaten in at least 6 hours. I couldn't do it."
Reports from other Reddit users (who trend toward Bernie, FWIW) indicate that the process took 10 hours if you were actually selected to be a delegate.
One reason it took so long: speeches. Lots and lots of speeches. Everyone gets some time to speak their mind, which sounds frankly hellish. "Nearly 60 people decided they wanted to be CD delegates out of 18 seats so those speeches took a long time," said one report. West Seattle is reported to have had 200 speeches, and eventually restricted speakers to 15 seconds. The 43rd district had 300.
Elsewhere, ballot-printing had to happen on the spot, and took forever. Some places ran out of paper. A teenager who brought his own gavel ran for a seat, which sounds like fun.
And apparently there were some rude Bernie Sanders supporters, if you can believe that. "Found our fellow Sanders supporters to be pretty embarrassingly lacking in self-awareness. Way too much aggression. It was very frustrating to watch," wrote one person. Apparently there was one guy with sunglasses who kept trying to yell at the speaker.
According to another report, "bald-bearded-kilt guy and scruffy-glasses-wearing-bullhorn-carrying-bernie-tee guy just about made me lose my shit," and I think we all have a very clear picture in our minds of both attendees. There was a literal neckbeard.
Party leaders — at least, some of them — understand that it was a frustrating process, and have a marvelous suggestion: the solution to all of this misery is to subject yourself to even more of it.
But the bottom line: if you are frustrated you must become actively involved in Democratic Party process to change the way things are.
— 34th Democrats (@34dems) April 18, 2016
"Can we please all work to get rid of this caucus system in our state?" begged one voice of reason.
A complete answer to that question is long, but the short answer is "no," because the state doesn't register people by party, so if we did a primary Republicans could vote for the Democratic candidate. That could be bad ... but after reading the reports from this weekend, I'm not sure it would be worse than what we have to put up with now.