February 09, 2008

takin' action

So, Tuesday I participated in the record-breaking Minnesota DFL precinct caucus. (Previous record was 80,000 in the '60s, we tripled that this year--w00t!) I have to say, on my third time around, it still feels so magical. This year was kind of weird, though. The DFL decided to make the presidential ballot binding, rather than the usual non-binding straw poll. That made for a strange dynamic, perhaps making the choice a little more stressful. In retrospect, knowing that my ideal candidate is also behind my viable candidate, and released his supporters, I could have voted for him, and still subcaucused in the Senate district round for the viable candidate...oh well.

A brief rundown of Tuesday...

I knew G would have to pic me up at the gym, and we would head over to our caucus. I was wearing dance pants and a workout tank...and very worried I would be freezing at the caucus, thus thinking maybe I should have thought to bring layers with me. Too late for that. As we started along Summit Avenue, we hit traffic. Barely moving traffic only a few blocks from our home, and a few miles from our caucus place. We couldn't figure out what was up...I mean traffic on Summit? So, we headed over to Grand...same deal. We continued several blocks over to come at the place from the back way. Found a reasonable parking spot, and headed over to the junior high school building serving as our caucus building. Lines. Around the block at each entrance. I have never witnessed such a thing! It was pretty awesome. The lines were continuously moving due to the highly organized group of volunteers stationed at the doors to keep people heading inside. As we snaked along we had some pretty great conversations with fellow caucusers. Learned about other progressive groups and bonded over election excitement. We got inside, and asked for directions to our room. The building was crowded, but the volunteers were on the ball...I was so very pleased and proud of them. We made our way to the correct stairwell, where we proceeded to wait in line to vote and get into our precinct caucus. A quick note: I had an ice cold diet soda that I purchased to go with my on the go sandwich dinner. I chose to leave it in the car because I thought I would be too cold. This was laughable! As we stood in the stairwell, I was forced to take my coat off. It was roasting! All that body heat made for a very cozy atmosphere. Several people commented on my wisdom in wearing a tank top. I had to 'fess up that it was purely a happy accident. It was really cool to see people of all ages, ethnicities, new citizens, lifelong citizens, complete diversity coming and going. We finally made our way to our room...hurray! We quickly signed in and cast our ballot, and found seats on tables along one wall. There were people perched on bookcases and desks, all the chairs full. We missed some of the action due to the lines, but quickly caught up. It was pleasing to see how many people chose to stick around after casting their presidential ballots. We voted on party resolutions, heard speeches about our senatorial candidates, and G even presented a resolution...wheeee! We had to push back our voting of delegates to make sure that all those waiting in line had their fair shot. I thought of a campaign speech, just in case we had more delegate volunteers than spaces. It was pretty powerful to see people speaking on things that obviously meant so much to them, and the hope that positively beamed from them as they read resolutions. On an US Weekly note...apparently Garrison Keillor is in our precinct. He voted and proceeded to hang out and watch the proceedings. It made me a little nervous to be a mere few feet from him... I felt like I needed to be extra impressive! My only disappointment of the evening were the few bad seeds who felt the need to try and foist their negativity on the room. I have no problem with being critical, and offering productive feedback or criticism. However, just to say things that are mean-spirited or off-the-cuff rude is completely unecessary.

Eventually, we were able to vote on delegates. In a miracle, exactly 28 people volunteered for the 28 positions for the senate district convention. Four more volunteered as alternates, and politely decided among themselves their ranks for the convention. We volunteered for committees...I felt really bad, though. My hand shot up for resolutions, and the chair said there was room for only one per committee form our precinct. I dashed G's hopes of also being on resolutions.

So, today, I woke up sunshiney early and made my way to a local library for the first committee meeting! We sorted resolutions based on various criteria, we discussed, I learned. It was pretty cool, if not a bit daunting as we have quite the pile of resolutions to research this week, and our chair has quite the pile to condense. We have three short weeks to compile all the resolutions from all the precincts and get them to the printer in time for the convention. It will be some work, but I also think it will be really interesting. Just hearing the scope of the resolutions passed in our precinct, and today seeing some of the others, makes me really excited for the convention.

Looking to the future, I would really, really, really love to be a delegate to the state convention this year. Unfortunately, I think the competition will be fierce, and I know that the qualifications of some will far outweigh my own (or rather, lack thereof). Despite that, I would be so honored to be elected to go on. In a magical dream world, I would get to go to the national convention...but I don't know how possible that is. One dream at a time. If both G and I were to go on to state, that would rock. It would be such an amazing experience!!

I am so very pleased to be a part of this. I am really optimistic this year. We have such an amazing field of candidates. Some years it honestly is the lesser of evils. However, this year, I feel like choosing one candidate simply means putting aside a very capable, viable candidate. No matter who goes on (even though, I would ideally love it to be my candidate), I feel like we will only benefit. I am also honored to be in such an involved neighborhood, and senate district.

After several years of the political climate, I am honestly optimistic, rather than anxious.

Posted by raven at February 9, 2008 08:58 PM
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