Wednesday, February 3, 2010

 I recently got an email from someone who shared why he doesn't share my enthusiasm for the Colorado Caucuses:

The Caucus process works for people who can attend at 7pm on March 16th. However, it excludes people: those who will be out of town for work; truck drivers who make up time at night; people who work the night shifts at: hospitals, police stations, fire departments, call centers, grocery stores, convenience stores, 24-hour businesses, 24-hour public services, janitorial services; parents with young children who need to get them ready for bed at 7pm; the elderly and disabled who have to rely on others to get to their caucus locations; etc. -- they are EXCLUDED from being able to participate in choosing their candidate. For the past few years, when I make calls to remind active voters about their precinct caucus, I've heard the reasons listed above at least once for why a voter cannot participate - and they are not flippant about it, but actually wish they could participate in some way.

As a political activist, I love the concept of getting together with my neighbors to discuss our candidates and platform. However, you have to admit that the caucuses, unfortunately, have become an exclusive gathering, so I can't really say I'm a fan of the Colorado Caucuses.

The fact that not everyone can attend is a shortcoming of the neighborhood caucus system for nominating to the primary ballot. So is this a sufficient reason to change they system or to not support it by helping to reach out to newcomers?

No, not in my opinion. To me it's like jury duty. It's a civic responsibility some of us need to take on some of the time. Those who can't attend the caucus can still participate in the primary election. And candidates who want can still skip the caucus and petition onto the ballot.

What do you think? Please take just a minute and post a comment here, OK?

10 comments:

Father O'Malley said...

Well as long as we can make up reasons why not to participate, reform will be slow indeed.

The Caucus "season" is two months long. Those that can't attend the day of the caucus have 6-8 weeks to organize neighborhoods and elect those delegates that reflect their views.

It's called delegating authority..

To change things, you must change the laws.
To change the laws, you must change who makes them.
To get elected your candidate must be on the ballot.

That's the way it is, regardless if you are in town the weekend of or not.

How much of a priority is it?

Anonymous said...

John,
You make some very valid points. I have two small children and we live in the sticks so only one of us can go. (I dont bring disruptive children to such events.)

It is also very confusing. I have been doing this along time and I still dont get it. For example, Father Omalley made a good point about the neighborhood organizing. I Did not even know we could do that.

We used to organize in groups like Kiwanas, Elks, Legion, etc. and so "community" was an on going commitment. Not a once an election cycle. Now we have long commutes, and sit in fron of our T.V.'s and computers and dont interact.

I am not accusing anyone.. just making an observation. We need to educate from the ground up again. And, I will start with me.

Thanks so much
Michelle
Nunn, CO

John S Wren said...

Michelle,

Thanks very much for sharing, it is not easy with small children. It's great the two of you can take turns.

Hope you'll join us here online once a week for 4-weeks. We plan on starting Saturday. Did you take a look at the Facebook group? Link in upper right corner of this page.

Anonymous said...

That's the thing about "participating". It actually requires time away from the other things in life we enjoy or want to do. We all prioritize what we do and if you don't think it's important enough to change a schedule or ask for time off (yes I know, we can't afford to take time off, etc etc) but if you don't then nothing will change.

The caucus is a rare opportunity for the average person to actually be involved from the ground up and with a little orgainzation and effect real change (resolutions, candidates, etc).

I do agree with Michelle in Nunn, CO. The process is muddy at best (every county is different) and education needs to happen from the neighborhoods up. That's the reason it seems to be an elitiest event, not because we can't attend but because we dont' know what to do!

There are a lot of grassroots groups trying to change this and you can find events at www.libertyevents.org for stuff going on across Colorado.

Theresa Nielsen said...

I believe the system is just fine especially these days with the internet, blogging, podcasting etc., individuals can still stay in touch with the issues. For example, many precinct leaders are active all year round for their two year term with writing, attending meetings, giving out information, mailing out newsletters and sending information on local events. When someone registers with a political party is best to write in your e-mail in which a person could opt-out later if they wish and many find it useful for getting information on issues affecting voters over the year. We cannot change all rules to accomodate every single circumstance. That reminds me of the new push for getting us ready for globalism in which they wish to place all kinds of different religions at the Airforce academy with a new circle for Wicka worship. This trend is not good for what about if someone comes with a new religion of people with two heads worship, Are we to make yet another space at the Airforce academy for the worship of a two headed deity? The last caucus that I went to I was in a rush to get there for I was busy working that day and even got wet in the rain for its was storming and cold when it ended. It is a sacrifice and yes it is imperfect yet this is what grassroots is all about, being imperfect and often maybe frustrated. Just yesterday I attended an event by invite here in Colorado Springs by the conservative majority and Ms. Michelle Morin and it was excellent with all kinds of different age groups, new faces, imperfect and perfect people, working people that arrived a bit late, etc, and others standing but everyone seemed so determined. It brings me joy to see the many questions presented, individuals going over dates, bylaws, and having dialogue over their city and concern for their Nation. Questions and doubts were discussed and aggrements over the discussions attained when many voluntered to stand up and speak with their input or expertise on caucus. I got to know new neighbors at the caucus and when I walked precincts it made so proud to see the American flag on many of the homes and even if some houses were small you could still see the American dream and the joy of home ownership. This is such a great country and we must fight to preserve our liberties and our ability to keep our properties. The caucus is not perfect but we need to keep the grassroots even if it seems frustrating to some. Even if an individual is working late that person can send someone on their behalf to gather information and even have voice participation. At the last caucus it was very crowded and many seemed a bit umcomfortable at first but later had laughter and smiles on their faces as they left at the end. Grassroots is what is keeping America alive after so many years no matter how hard some in DC push to try and take our nation away. At the caucus I often feel and see perhaps what many felt and saw during our first American revolution. The caucus keeps our American spirit alive like the first day of our independence.

Chris Bayes said...

When people get mad enough, fed up enough and have just had enough, they will find the time and ways to get envolved. We all have something else we would like to or rather be doing but the caucus process is too important to ignore.

Anonymous said...

As imperfect as it may be, it is still the best opportunity for the people to have enfluence in the process. The more we educate people on the process, the greater the number of people will be involved. As that happens it will become more competitive for people to be elected as delegates. As that happens those that want to be delegates will have to do some campaigning in their neighborhoods and with that those that are borderline on attending will get out and participate. As far as those that are elderly or have a hard time getting out, how about we take on the responsibility for helping them by offering to drive them.

Father O'Malley said...

I love you guys..

Just Anita said...

How'd we get from caucus support to two-headed deities? But, Theresa I totally get your point. Bummer that our Constitution has the pesky "Freedom of Religion" attachment. Really gets in the way of an Authoritarian push for the "One Country, One Religion" stance. Don't worry, you're still an awesome American in my book, even if your God has less than, or more than, 2 heads.

Back to the Caucus discussion: It is very difficult for those of us with small children. Especially single Moms, and those with physical barriers. As such, I've been a advocate in our County for using more interactive technologies , like tele-conferencing, SKYPE, etc., that would allow for more opportunities to participate at the grassroots level. We're starting to use some of these applications for meetings, but still working out the kinks.

I'm very interested in what others are doing in their Counties to help open access for all. Thanks to the poster who reminds us all that there are opportunities to participate throughout the caucus process. Excellent motivator.

Gary Vincent O'Malley said...

Just Anita, great post. I'm Precinct 13 leader in Broomfield and am in contact with the Broomfield GOP chair Erich. He's a great guy. .
Go to www.broomfieldgop.org if you are GOP inclined, if for nothing else but to compare with your county.
Thank god for technology. Our founders were afraid to the rabble's influence in governing, that's why we are not a Democracy, not matter what the left says. :))
Our founders said that the best chance for us to keep this a Republic and not go down the road of Demcracy to tyranny, is for a well educated public. With the internet, this increases our possibilities. The popularity of the evening news has and will continue to dwindle until they return to reporting ALL the news.
There's a lot of garbage out there, but there are just as many ways to verify if one takes the time.
To change things, you must change the laws.
To change the laws, you must change who makes them.
To be elected, your candidate must be on the ballot.
Timidy is not what we need now. We need boldness to caucus and not roll over to the Party 'annointed' any longer. Look where that got us..