A new law passed by the legislature will give Dems the chance to switch to primaries. They should.
A new law passed by the Legislature will give Dems the chance to switch to primaries. They should do that. RS

The Washington State Democratic Party is thinking about holding a primary instead of holding several chaotic and undemocratic caucuses when picking their nominee for president, and they're looking for your input.

Sponsored
The Stranger has last-minute discounts to PNB, ACT Theatre, Neumos, and On The Boards this weekend. Grab tickets before they're gone!

Please take a moment out of your busy day and tell the Democrats to switch to the primary system ahead of the 2020 elections. You can access the online form here. You don't have to leave a bratty comment in the comment box when you submit your form, but, if you're looking for a little inspiration, then read on.

Caucuses suck because they have low participation rates. A report from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights looking at the 2016 election shows far lower voter turnout rates for states that caucused compared to states that used a primary system. Washington's numbers reflect this trend. Over 800,000 Democrats voted in a meaningless primary (that cost the state $9 million), while only 230,000 Democrats participated in the caucuses.

This is not a one-off phenomenon. Going back several decades, caucuses have almost always had dramatically lower turnouts than primaries.

Caucuses exclude cool people. Caucusing requires participants to block off an indeterminate number of hours on a weekend, travel to a physical location, and then have in-person conversations with neighbors about politics. This process presents lots of problems for people who work on the weekends (i.e. service industry types, doctors, me), people on low or fixed incomes, old people, students, people who need to find sitters, people who have trouble getting around, and shut-ins who fear public speaking. If Democrats want to represent those kinds of people and solve their problems, they shouldn't exclude them from their nomination process.

Primaries are a better way to vet candidates. Some argue that exclusion can be good. Caucuses tend to draw the most fired up members in the party, and since the goal is to pick the presidential nominee for the party, then maybe the Democrats don't need a bunch of regular people weighing in with an opinion they formed based on some bullshit they caught on CNN at the gym yesterday. After all, Bernie Sanders won the Washington caucuses (which mattered), and Hillary Clinton won the primaries (which didn't matter), and since we all know Bernie would have beat Trump in 2016, then why would Democrats trust a bunch of bozos to decide the fate of the their nominee rather than continue to let party activists, who know better, run the show?

I'm sympathetic to that argument, but if you can't win over a bunch of bozos in your own primary, then you're probably not going to win over even more bozos in the general election.

Moderation is not a foregone conclusion. If you think switching to primaries is just another way to get Hillary Biden elected instead of Bernie Warren, please send your angry e-mails to Jeff Weaver, Bernie's former campaign manager. In an interview with Politico back in January, Weaver said he thinks the switch will actually be good for people like Sanders. He argues that it's "easier to persuade infrequent voters to show up to a primary than a caucus" and that “Sanders and other progressive candidates will disproportionately get the votes of people who are not consistent voters.”

So, if you want your progressive candidate of choice to win the nomination, you shouldn't just sit back and let an unfair system work its magic. You should go outside, knock on doors, raise money, and yell and scream about your candidate like everybody else.

Get over the romance. Supporters of the caucus view the event as one of the few remaining sites of true civic discourse. People have to put down the bong, get off the couch, march over to the elementary school, and actually look someone in the eye and talk about politics. You get to hear real stories from real people about how politics touches their lives, which can help put the race in perspective.

Again, I'm sympathetic to this argument, but the premise is nonsense. Anyone who wants to look someone in the eye and ask them what Joe Biden means to them can walk into a cafe, a bar, a church, a book club, an elk lodge, or any number of places where strangers and acquaintances gather. Politicians are forever accusing families of sitting around "a dinner table" to talk politics, so there's that, too.

The world offers many venues for talking to other people and hearing their stories. We don't need to create a special day to shout down Bernie bros or Kamalites—especially one that nobody gets off.