Caucus Perceptions

I’d never caucused in Colorado until tonight, there not seeming much point to it, our having got here while Clinton The Bill was in office. I last voted in 2000, and lost my taste for it when the Supreme Court decided that votes didn’t matter. Oh, wait, I did register as a Republican for a day to vote in one of their local primaries. It’s just something you do in a place like Dinkytown in which the GOP candidate always wins and is usually unopposed, if the choice of elected officials is for some reason important to you.

I was surprised to see 14 registered Democratic voters turn out, as was the chairman of the affair. I had expected for there to be three of us, and me the only Bernie supporter. I joked, “So, we are all the subversives in town?”. The chairman took a quick look at some papers in front of him and said that there are actually three hundred and some registered Democrats in the county, which is up a bit from previous years. Hmm. I quickly mentally calculated that we have approximately one Democrat per ten square miles. Seems about correct, in accordance with observation, though nowhere near right. Not good, but not shocking.

The shock came at the first straw poll when it came up 11 to 3 in favor of Bernie. Multiple shocks, actually. When the time came to raise hands in support of Sanders, I looked to the right past my raised arm and saw my semi-friend, the Hillary supporter who couldn’t get away from me fast enough when I spoke of Bernie and socialism at the market, had his hand up, too. I could have been knocked over by a feather. But then the chairman started counting his way around the table, and I saw nine other hands raised. It was a Bernie avalanche. I couldn’t help but grin about that. Being high at the time, you know. But just a little bit.

After the straw poll, everyone got a chance to talk. First to speak was my comrade whose tune had changed. He said that, ultimately, in the (what I consider to be a very cheaply framed) decision to vote with his head or his heart, he just has to vote his heart this time. Next to speak was a Hillary supporter, who called attention to Hillary’s experience and all of that whatnot she’s claiming, and spoke of pragmatism. I was next, and had gone into it intending to just remain silent… Yeah, right.

I spoke of the fact that there’s already a revolution begun, so pretending that it’s not there can only make things worse, and explained that they were nothing new. Most there being older, I pointed out that the world in 1982 was very different than the one of 1978, because there had been a revolution. At this point in 1980, just about everyone considered Reagan a clown. Then he changed the world, and it was called The Reagan Revolution. These kinds of things happen, as they did in 1932 when FDR used raw populism to win the election, begin work on the New Deal, and push both Congress and the Supreme Court around with the weight of the people behind him. I closed with the argument that setting our expectations too low and then meeting them is neither a surprise nor a win.

And so it went, and no votes changed at the next straw poll. I kept quiet in that round until someone else brought up the fact that there are a lot of Bernie Or Bust voters whom Hillary cannot count as her own should she win the nomination, so those speaking of pragmatism ought to consider them in their thinking. I pointed out that I’m one of them, and should the nomination go to Hillary my vote will go to Jill Stein, because if I wanted to vote for the establishment I wouldn’t be a Bernie supporter in the first place. Ms. Stein was mostly unknown in the room so questions were asked about who she is and what she stands for, so I explained, and then the chairman said that that would be enough campaigning for the Green Party at the Democratic caucus. He said it with a smile, but I still pointed out that I wasn’t campaigning at all, just verifying that yes, indeed, there are Bernie Or Bust voters and one among them.

At one point, an observer who said he was… a student of political science? A professor of political science? I dunno, some kind of college boy, anyway, who, speaking from his now established position of authority, told us all to pay no attention to polls because there’s only one mostly accurate pollster in the country — whose name escaped the lecturer’s recall, but he’s a guy out in the Midwest somewhere, perhaps, and he’s got a web site… but, uh, he couldn’t remember the domain name of it. There for a moment I thought I was going to go full asshole on the college boy, but then he just went and did it all by himself and even made it look easy. No need to volunteer for a job already done.

And no votes changed, and nobody wanted to talk any more, so we did the no-shit vote. And then did some administrivial party stuff that didn’t really interest me any, me being a renegade and all, but I might still end up being a delegate to the state convention. It could be fun to go over the divide to get caught up in the fun of being a Bernie delegate after he’s won the state by so wide a margin. But the gravity of that wandering star is growing strong, so we might get pulled in another direction.

After it all was over and I was waiting for Amethyst to pick me up, my old comrade who turned on Hillary came outside, and almost in unison we both said, “Now that was interesting”. We chatted for a moment, and in parting he said, “Aye, comrade, we’re all socialists now”. I couldn’t resist. I replied, “I always have been, so it’s really nice to be thought right for the first time”.

I didn’t mean it as a zinger, really I didn’t. It wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that it occurred to me that it could even be perceived that way. But, should it happen that he views it that way, I guess we’re even for his running away from me at the grocery store on that day when I said to him that I thought it immoral to vote for the win rather than for the people all around the country who have already lost and those who soon enough will. I don’t know if my words influenced him at all, but I’m glad he paraphrased them this evening. It’s important to fully experience your humanity. You can only truly know that your self esteem is deserved when your idea of what’s right isn’t something that requires rationalization. If you say that you are withholding food from a child because you don’t want her to grow up slothful and dependent, you don’t deserve self esteem. Cruelty, selfishness, and dishonesty are supposed to feel bad!

And it doesn’t take really all that much compassion to know that it’s wrong that the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, at the peak of its wealth, refuses to deliver health care to all of its citizens, helps bankers to bankrupt them and employers to enslave them, leaves millions in needless poverty, poisons their food, water, and air, and simply refuses to do anything about it. “How ya gonna pay for it?”. Uh, hello? Richest nation in world history at the peak of its wealth, that’s how. Duh.

We have no resource shortage. We have no lack of desire on the part of the people. We have millions of unemployed and underemployed workers desperate for good jobs, tens or hundreds of thousands of idled factories, and tens of millions of consumers with cash at the ready clamoring for domestically produced goods. How hard can it be to just put all of those things together, in the richest nation in the history of the world? Wasn’t the workers who idled those factories. Wasn’t the consumers who begged for shoddy imports. Wasn’t the electorate who shipped those jobs overseas.

It was a Clinton. NAFTA, CAFTA, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, repeal of Glass-Steagall, deregulation of derivative financial products… The Great Recession was engineered by a Clinton. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was Hillary’s baby when she was Secretary of State, and she now says that she opposes it because it doesn’t provide enough protections for American workers — which is an iron clad guarantee, in Clintonese, that should she be elected she will renegotiate a couple or three minor points and then ram TPP right down our throats.

It was a Clinton. It will be a Clinton again who hurts us even more, if we’re that stupid. But tonight I’m proud of Coloradans for once again stepping up and being the kind of people who do what’s right even when it’s impossible. We do democracy here and it works. Which is why this Bernie Or Bust voter is just a moment away from firing up some Colorado high grade, grown and distributed right here in Colorado by American workers earning good wages, sold legally over the counter and properly regulated by the state. Impossible? Says who?

Just some Clintons. They’ll stop mattering just as soon as we decide they should.


6 thoughts on “Caucus Perceptions

  1. promisesunshine

    This is the first time I’ve heard what this fool caucus system looks like. Who the hell decided that was the way to vote?
    Then again, when I finally get to have a say in this thing, I’ll color in my circle and have no damn idea what the rest of the people in the old folks home are coloring.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I dunno whose idea it was. On the one hand it’s anti-democratic, to some considerable extent, to throw up a “you really gotta want it” wall between the people and the process, but on the other hand it’s really hard to inject outright fraud into the process when those who do really want it are physically present and carefully watching the vote count. And on the third hand, I’m happy with the outcome because if I hadn’t been there The Creature would have got one more delegate than it did.

      Here’s a curiosity: The Colorado GOP decided in advance of the caucus to not even count votes and to send their delegates to their convention uncommitted, saying that it just doesn’t make much sense to commit delegates to candidates who will have withdrawn their nominations before the convention begins. Sounds more like shenanigans to me. Why not just leave the delegates of those who’ve withdrawn uncommitted, and so reduce the confusion, fuckuppery, and malfeasance, that are all sure to occur when they’re all uncommitted? Somebody’s angling to do something either to or for The Schrump (whose hair is usually a color more often seen on a cooked shrimp), I suspect.

  2. g.

    “How hard can it be to just put all of those things together, in the richest nation in the history of the world?” I was nodding agreement through this whole post. But it’s not the difficulty in question, is it, but rather the will. It doesn’t exist among those in power. As you said, they simply refuse to do anything that doesn’t increase their personal wealth. And even as their wealth increases, the “millions of underemployed workers” are too worn down to muster the energy to overturn a system that holds them in such disregard. Hell, they’ve been told so often that broken system is the *best* choice, they think it might be true. As Ursula Franklin pointed out, the modern labour force is organized in a way that ensures compliance.
    It makes me happy to read this–a suggestion that what people “deserve” doesn’t begin and end with the durability of their bootstraps. My mother kept a “creed” written by J.D. Rockefeller where he wrote that “every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” I don’t know much about him, but I think Andrew Carnegie had the same kind of idea–that hoarding wealth was not only discouraged, but disgraceful. You can’t be on top and pretend that doesn’t necessitate someone else being on the bottom. And like you said, “Cruelty, selfishness, and dishonesty are supposed to feel bad!” Why don’t they?!

    1. happierheathen Post author

      Yes, lack of will. Exactly. It’s not surprising that those who plundered the nation fair and square and mostly in accordance with the law are unwilling to return the loot. We gave it to them, after all. They asked nicely and we didn’t refuse.

      Funny thing about the Robber Barons of the first Gilded Age: They made ostentatious vanity a social sin, having learned to do so from the elites of Europe who had just unhappily experienced and in some cases were still in the throes of most unwelcome revolutionary fervor. It’s easy to defend your wealth when other rich people come for it — just make it more expensive to get it than they’re willing to pay for it and they’ll select another target. But when poor people with nothing left to lose come at you, you are going to lose it all. The best defense against that is to keep enough of the population well enough fed that they are not motivated to band together into that critical mass necessary for a revolution. Our current crop of rich people ain’t that smart.

      Which is a good thing, really. It’s time for the United States to become the democracy our founders feared. You don’t have to give World War to get a New Deal, or give invasion of South Vietnam to get a Great Society, if you can just vote for it. The Declaration Of Independence told us all we need to know about the legitimacy of the government we made and under what conditions we should fight to fix it.

  3. cocosangel

    Here in Canada, most of the Canadians are routing for Bernie. His views and values are considered highly. But after the recent Super Tuesday, we all have been disappointed. Because Hillary and Trump both got 7 States each. I don’t know, if we are to say adios now, that I think the proper candidates for the parties can be selected. Or still have hope for Bernie.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      The better indicator to watch at this time is the committed delegate counts which are much closer than the projected delegate counts including superdelegates. If that committed delegate count equation shifts, the superdelegates will be compelled to consider the wisdom of defying the electorate at this moment in history. A moment that some are increasingly unable to deny is a revolutionary one, and not just here but globally.

      Don’t worry. The change is coming. If it’s not led by Bernie, it’ll be led by someone else.


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