But more important than a big stick was the help of my fellow caucus-goers. One elderly man (older than me, anyway) took the initiative to help pass out sign-up sheets and pens to the crowd, and ended up taking over most of the task. Another collected the sheets and checked that everyone had marked a presidential preference. The precinct captain for Obama at first came across as a bit over-assertive, but soon became an invaluable assistant to me and the tally clerk. Chairs were at a premium; I gave mine up to the secretary.
(The photo above shows a different precinct caucus at the Oddfellows Hall. They had 132.)
Counting took some time. With the tally clerk, secretary, and two assistants working at it, each vote was counted twice by two people. Then came the one-minute speeches (without timer) for each candidate. Captain Anne stood on a chair and gave a prepared speech for Obama. A volunteer spoke impromptu for Hillary. And I gave an impassioned oration in favor of “Uncommitted” as our only hope of leveraging some genuine progressive promises from the two corporate hotshots. Needless to say, I was wearing my John Edwards button, no longer for the man but for his program.
On second ballot, I don’t think anyone on the H & O Railroad changed votes. Obama made a big splash with four delegates to Hillary’s two. This turned out to be fairly typical of the 36th District, where Obama was more heavily favored than even in the rest of Washington State. On a national scale, of course, H & O are still in a dead heat for delegates. It ain’t over yet.
And what did I do? To begin with, I had been assiduous in reminding people as they signed in that “Uncommitted” is a perfectly valid choice. A fair number of people took it, and I am now the official uncommitted delegate from my precinct to the Legislative District caucus in April. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a brokered convention in August.
I have to say my inexperience showed. The Obama captain might well have done a better job of running the meeting, but I managed to get all the important things done. Now that I’ve gotten involved, I really like caucuses better than primaries. I met 110 of my neighbors (including at least four from my condo building whom I already knew), and we spent the afternoon doing real politics together. And caucuses, unlike primaries, let you vote for “none of the above,” as I did. It was a wild afternoon, and I wouldn’t have missed it. I say with good old Tommy J: I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending to too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.