Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It should be Awoi, it's so backwards

Well. It's been a long week and a half, filled with fun. I could summarize the multitude of activities, like my brother Sam's visit, Ethan's birthday party, or the LOST premiere. Truthfully, though, the thought is overwhelming, and whose blog is it anyway? So I'm going to do what I do best--talk about something random.

And WHAT is more random than caucuses?

Yes, I am speaking of the events that occur in some states to determine which presidential nominee that state's delagates will support for each party. Don't get caucuses confused with their normal, logical descendants, the primaries. These two are nothing alike.

Primaries, such as the one held in my fine state, are held just like any other voting day. Citizens go to their assigned precinct, usually close to their home, at their convenience within a 12 or 13 hour period. They vote on a piece of paper or a voting machine, and they leave. Not a big deal.

A caucus, though, can only be compared to a schoolyard pick. Everyone in the state that is interested in having a say in this stage of the election is assigned a location. At a set time, let's say 7 PM, everyone is due at their caucus location. If you're early, you wait. If you're late ,you aren't allowed in. At 7:00 PM sharp, the organizers of the caucus announce that the first round of "voting" is beginning. At the signal, everyone in the room gets up and goes to stand under the sign that bears the name of the candidate they support. Really. Then, the organizers count, and any candidate who has less than a certain percentage of the attendees standing under their sign is deemed "out". Following the narrowing of the candidates, there's a time--this is my favorite part--when the supporters of the candidates that did make the cut (we'll call them the Winners) can try to convince the supporters whose guy (or girl) just got kicked to the curb (we'll call them the Losers) that they should join the Winners under their various names. No pressure! Then they do the process again, and whoever has the most people under their name wins.

It all sounds very quaint and traditional, and would probably be a lovely system except for a few small glitches:

- It's in no way, shape or form private voting
- It limits the voting population to the people who are able to attend a meeting for 2 or 3 hours on a Tuesday night. So if you work evenings, or have small children, or have physical difficulties, so sorry--no voice for you! And forget about absentee ballots.
- It's subject to votes being made for the wrong reasons. What if you really like some candidate, and so do a lot of other people, but the first guy to get under your candidate's banner is all gross and sick and keeps sneezing without covering his mouth? No way are you going over there. On the same note, what if there was an absolutely beautiful woman who kept smiling at all the guys and went to stand under some schmoe's banner? Every single guy in the place would instantly be Schmoe's biggest supporter.

Do you see the flaws? It's absurd. Our country is far from perfect, but at least as a society we seem to grasp when we need to update our practices. We no longer deliver mail by pony, we don't use kerosene lamps to light our homes--but we still have states that revert straight to the 1700s to elect their next presidential candidates? Never again will I allow anyone to call Arkansas backwards. Iowa's way more messed up than us.

1 comment:

Mellie said...

Have you heard about the "super delegates" yet? There's about 200 or so of them, and they're held by individual people (big time senators, former presidents, etc). This year they could actually determine who the candidates are. So much for "the people" ruling!