This Past Weekend's Democratic Caucuses Were an Unbearable Ordeal

Comments

1
Wait. But how do we know some of these delegates aren't republicans? Because they gave a 15 second speech?
2
The Democratic Party is a private club. If you don't like how it works, start showing up, bring your friends, and keep doing it. You show up enough, you get to make the rules. Yes, Sunday was a long difficult waste of time, but It's hard to feel righteous complaining while other people are volunteering to do the actual work. They put in a lot more than 10 hours every 8 years.
3
This breathless complaining as though babies were murdered and democracy was thwarted is getting silly.

So people had to spend several hours doing boring politics on a sunny Sunday. Bernie still got his delegates. Hillary still got her delegates. Nothing changes.

Of course we can improve the experience...but that won't necessarily shorten the process. If anything, it will allow more time to spend on platform issues.
4
How about one delegate per local precinct. That delegate shows up to county caucus with the notarized vote count from their precinct. Vote counts are then totaled up. Delegates are awarded. Over in half an hour. Am I missing something?
5
@4...most precincts don't even have a PCO. Now you're going to have each individual precinct find a PCO, elect a delegate...and have the whole thing Notarized to boot?

Yeah...good luck with that. :-)

Here's what you can do: pick any of the following two, but not all three:

Fast, Cheap, Good.
6
Go to your LD meetings and get involved. Not just to improve future caucus experience, but to help with down-ballot democrats getting elected. Your candidate won't be able to do squat without tipping our reps balance to Dems. 36th LD meets April 20th - hope to see you there!
6
I attended the Pierce County District 10 shit show, stayed for the whole enchilada, but never again without COCAINE and MALT LIQUOR.
7
Wait. It seems like last weekend must have been Legislative District caucuses? I hope that everyone involved knows that there are even more stages of speeches to go through before they get that golden ticket to Philadelphia.

8
Hey Matt, do you want to talk to people who had issues (blow horn bearded dude) with how the 37th was being run versus instead of focusing on facial hair? I can give you contact info if you want a balanced account.

Whether you'd like to acknowledge it or not, Bernie has brought a lot of new voters and participants into the political system. The state, county or local dems are not doing an adequate job educating participants on the rules. So yes, some of them were more confused. That's what happens when you have a more representative democracy. Rules, standards and the status quo get questioned and sometimes challenged.
9
@8 @2, Oh sure, blame it on the giant tide of Bernie Supporters... Fact is, this was extremely predictable, and the organizers did nothing to prepare for it. It was a shit show all around. There are some that say perhaps this extremely predictable situation was "passive-aggressively" planned by party wonks who are of Hillery's team, and though that sounds a bit "tin foil" hat, I'm starting think maybe it's true.
10
In the 43rd we had a bunch of Bernie supporters yelling "time" at the Hillary supporters during their 5 min speech. Even though we had a competent time keeper the entire day...
11
BhamBrad @4 -- No, you're not missing something. You're missing almost everything ... many more things than time and space here allow.

Among the important things you're missing is how the decline of participatory politics (including political parties) has left US politics slip-sliding to the right.

But that's not about to change. Trump and Sanders are both symptoms of profoundly morbid trends in democracy. Too many voters want instant results, and they want them without doing real work. They want to hit the channel-changer, or the Like button ... and working democracy is ineluctably most difficult than that.

It's not your fault, it's not the caucus system's fault, it's not going to get better, and nobody;s going to fix it. HAND
12
With 3% turn out rates I'm not sure we really need to worry about Republicans crashing our primaries. As another commentor mentioned, they can already crash our caucuses anyway.
12
My legislative district Democrats meet tomorrow evening, and I'm going to get involved. Everyone who thinks that party politics really matters this year should do the same. A quick Google search should yield up your local party organization. Or start with your county Democrats and follow from there.
13
@8 and @9
The revolution is going to take a little more work, effort, and diligence, Brahs.
And surely no tin-foil-stupid conspiracy theory is stupid enough not to be repeated, right? high five!
And god forbid that you spell the name of that corrupt woman correctly.
14
@9. I don't know how you read that, but I am a Sanders supporter. In my LD (32), the leadership appears to be very pro-Sanders. Maybe there are passive-aggressive shenanigans at some level, but either way, the only way to change it is to do what I suggested. It would be great if some of the Sanders energy and passion were directed into taking over the party. But now I'm the one making suggestions and hoping other people do the work for me.
15
This is REAL democracy. Sorry if you don't like it. Voting is far less authentic. If we truly value people's voices, let them speak. And deal with it.
16
@15: The whole point of voting is that it allows for secret ballots, letting people voice their opinions without fear of being shouted down or facing prejudice from others for them. A wholly open forum is dangerously close to a mob.
17
I was scruffy-Bernie-tee-wearing-glasses-bullhorn-guy. I was the SITE LEAD for the Bernie campaign, and I was an Elected Delegate because I live in the neighborhood. The "chair" (who elected himself and his family to run the show before anyone was inside) had called it to order before I was even signed-in, preventing me from my duties of keeping track of what happens or raising points or inquiries to clear up any questions -- in violation of the agreement the Democratic party had with both campaigns.

The only Clinton "volunteers" around were actually Democratic party officials running the show while wearing Clinton gear. Super neutral! (Side point: they messed up multiple times, from misspelling names to leaving whole groups of people off of the delegate lists, putting Bernie supporters in the Clinton column, etc).

Why was I carrying a bullhorn? The Bernie campaign was the only campaign to bring any volunteers to wrangle the 2,000+ people who showed up to the 37th Legislative District location at Cleveland High. Also the only campaign to consider, hey, I bet 2,000 people will be hungry and thirsty... we also brought food and water for everybody. I was outside helping mainly Clinton supporters, who were under informed or misinformed, telling them that yes, you do need to stay until the bitter end or your candidate loses delegates when somebody makes a challenge.

The bullhorn was so that I didn't have to talk to each individual person, I could announce things it to entire sections of the line. This is completely normal practice to address crowds of thousands of people. The democratic party didn't think about that. They had one guy at the door telling people one at a time, holding up the line every time anybody had a question, because they only opened ONE door to let everyone in.

When I walked in, the chair had been delivering a 45-minute propaganda speech, which included sexist remarks about "that hot chippy little intern, Monica Lewinsky," and claiming she was part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy to take out Bill Clinton" and proclaiming "IT'S REAL!"... (to boos and hisses from both Bernie AND Clinton supporters, I might add). He also threatened Bernie supporters to "fall in line" or we'll end up with another Nixon. I think what he was trying to say was we all need to make sure we vote for Bernie or Clinton will get elected? Not sure.

People were upset, shouting "PROPAGANDA!" and "THIS IS NOT ALLOWED!" I tried to calm everyone down, so that nobody is kicked out, and instead of asking who I was or what I was doing, the chair sent his daughter (whom he had appointed as "sergeant at arms") over to physically threaten me and talk over me without even noticing I'm wearing a lanyard that says Bernie Caucus Site Lead.

The self-appointed chair was cheating the rules and lying to people the entire time. Neckbeard skirt guy was yelling because he had been repeatedly lied to by the chair regarding a last-minute rule change, and denied his right to question the chair. The chair claimed the last-minute rule change was allowed, when in fact it was not -- it was railroaded through after a pro-Clinton superdelegate sent a threat, and a party official forwarded it out on Wednesday before the caucus. The rule favors the Clinton campaign in every scenario by allowing the campaign to seat delegates from any jurisdiction (not just the same one), in contradiction of 4 other rules, and against the interpretation of the last 30+ years. Even training that was made as recently as March says same jurisdiction is required.

People may think I was "annoying hipster Bernie privilege guy," but the reason I was trying to interrupt him was THAT IS HOW A CAUCUS WORKS. They run by "Robert's Rules of Order." You call for motions and points of inquiry. Mr. Self-appointed chair, Alec Stephens, who I may add has been sent to anger management classes by the party in the past, was ignoring people and at one point told me to "GO. SIT. DOWN." so aggressively that his spit got on my face.

Why was I interrupting him? He was railroading through changes to steal delegates away from Bernie Sanders. He was talking over people. He was pulling the mic from people who had a chance to speak, but were saying things he as a Clinton supporter did not like. Had he let me speak, we would have clarified things and NOT wasted hours with people yelling across the room at him after he was caught cheating. IN FACT, in the 44th LD, this is exactly what happened -- the chair LISTENED to the person who raised the points I had written and they were finished dealing with the situation in about 10 minutes.

I'd like to thank The Stranger for their mind-blowing investigative journalism. Finding Tweets and Reddit posts from people who don't know the rules or didn't care about anything other than "man, this gym is hot!" sure does paint a fair picture of a situation. Many people were there voting until 11PM, including me.

The caucus process is broken because people like Alec Stephens bully any new people who try to get involved, and then make it appear as if those new people were just agitators trying to protest an otherwise simple and easy situation. The fact is this: they make it PURPOSELY hard so that people leave and they can change things once everyone but the die-hard Democrats and those with the privilege of sitting around in a gym for 12 hours have left.

The caucus process was invented back when slavery was still legal and only white landowning males could vote. The crowds were much smaller. Caucuses absolutely will not work with large crowds, especially when the chair is not following the rules. It turns into a mob.

Why do we use a caucus? A few reasons, but basically because the democratic party says so. One of the reasons: Washington is a nonpartisan state (as mentioned in the post) where none of us are registered to any party. But the main reason is delegates, who are supposed to be normal voters (like the ones forced to sit in the hot gym), are selected entirely by the democratic party. In states where they use a primary, these people are chosen from the elite members of the party, who often don't actually stick to their vote. A caucus process is the only way IN THE CURRENT DNC RULES a state can send regular voters to the state and national conventions.

Want to fix this ridiculous outdated excuse for an election? GET INVOLVED. Become a PCO (Precinct Committee Officer) for your Legislative District Democratic Party and VOTE OUT the people who have been in power for decades. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Complaining on the internet won't fix anything, it just makes people more upset.
18
"When I walked in, the chair had been delivering a 45-minute propaganda speech, which included sexist remarks about "that hot chippy little intern, Monica Lewinsky," and claiming she was part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy to take out Bill Clinton" and proclaiming "IT'S REAL!"... (to boos and hisses from both Bernie AND Clinton supporters, I might add)."

Gross! I think some people with a bullhorn might've started setting off the siren sound at that point...
19
I was a Hillary delegate at the 46th district caucus. For those people who complain about it being disorganized -- well, then you should sign up to volunteer for the WA State Democrats and help get some bodies out there to help herd the crowds.

The Bernie supporters were shockingly -- and I really mean utterly breathtakingly -- hostile and rude. When it came to the 5 minutes that each candidate's supporters had to speak for their candidate, there was a nice older woman and a teenage girl speaking for Hillary. The Bernie supporters starting yelling and booing and harassing them while they were speaking. I just was flabbergasted, and the older Bernie supporters sitting next to me were also shocked and dismayed at the utter lack of civility these young Bernie-bots showed.

I know, all you Millennials are just rolling your eyes at me since I'm old and you just want me to fuck off and die, but this is really what happened. And it wasn't the older Bernie supporters doing this -- it was the young (mostly male) "Birdies" acting this way. I used to think Bernie was okay, and that I would feel good about voting for him, should he get the nomination. But after my experience in the precinct and legislative caucuses, I loathe Bernie more and more every day, thanks to his unrepentantly juvenile supporters.

(And FYI -- if you don't like how the WA State Democrats are run, then you should get involved and help change the system. But I know you Bernie people won't, because that would take more effort than just blathering your sound-bites on Facebook.)
20
Jaysus, nrutas, do you talk like you write? Not saying you're wrong, but you sure are long.
21
Wow, "scruffy-Bernie-tee-wearing-glasses-bullhorn-guy," way to make the Reddit-poster's point for them...
22
They know that they will never have the numbers of people they need "involved in the process" to the point where this shitshow will change. This happens once every 4 years. How many people are going to remain committed for the next 4 years after surviving who knows how many all-day torture fests?

I think more people are vying for better political representation in general vs those who feel truly connected to the Democratic party in particular - why dedicate weekends to what isn't even the right answer for you?
23
Please sign and share the petition to replace our Democratic party caucus system with the existing mail-in primary: https://www.change.org/p/jaxon-wa-democr…
24
We can all thank the WA GOP and Ellen Craswell for the clusterfuck caucus system we have now. Craswell was the prudish scold the GOP had as their gubernatorial candidate in '96, and the party elders declared that the only reason she got the nomination was because some dem's voted for her in the primary. When she lost a landslide to Gary Locke's empty suit, the GOP lost their shit. We then had several election cycles with changing rules, with each party demanding that the public pay for votes controlled by the party. When that blew up, we just gave up on important primary elections and went for the all day sales pitch disguised as "participatory democracy", which mostly serves as fodder for perpetual campaign mailing lists and ego trips for Ted Cruz wannabes.
25
"The Democratic Party is a private club" - that would all be well and good if we could easily start similar private clubs of our own, that could compete on even terms in the general. But the existing political system (specifically, electoral college and lack of party lists combined with first-past-the-post / winner-takes-all) effectively restrict the general election to the two major parties - everyone else has barriers of entry that are pretty much insurmountable. Heck, you can't even get on the ballot as a third party in many states.

Thus, both GOP and Democratic Party are not just private clubs. They are the two private clubs that, between themselves, have a duopoly stranglehold on the political system. And so long as that remains, their primaries/caucuses are not just a private club thing, because they represent essentially the only way for the people to have their say beyond choosing between two preordained candidates - and it is both fair and reasonable to demand that the rules of said primaries/caucuses are conductive to democracy.

If the parties don't like it, and want to be "private clubs", why, that's very easy to do. Just change the electoral system such that parties get seats allocated proportionally to their popular vote (say, mixed-member proportional), and switch to instant runoff voting for president and other positions where there's only one seat to fill. This would require constitutional amendments on the federal level (which Congress can initiate, so it's still up to them to do so), but on state level it's much easier and would be a good start.

And then us disrespectful kids can get off your Democratic lawn and go form our own parties, compete for votes in the general, and get our fair share of seats according to how many people we can convince - as it should be.

No? Don't want to lose your duopoly on political power? Then we'll be sitting on your lawn for a long time to come. It's not like we have anywhere else to go.