Thursday, February 7, 2008

Save the Caucus in Minnesota

We don’t have enough opportunities to
get involved in local politics as it is.
by Charlie Leck

I’ve attended a lot of caucus meetings. Tuesday night’s was the biggest one I’ve been involved in since 1968, and that one was in the city of Minneapolis at the height of the dispute about the Vietnam War. Most of my precinct caucus experiences have been in crowds of anywhere from two to a dozen people.

Because of the size of the crowds on Tuesday night, and the traffic and parking problems the big turn-out created, there have been calls for a change in Minnesota to a primary vote.

I oppose such a change. The caucus is a political party event. The primary is a state government event. The two are very different and for very different purposes.

Minnesota actually has a primary and voters will have an opportunity to vote for a variety of candidates in September. A choice for President of the United States will not be included on that primary ballot.

About half of the people who attended Tuesday night’s event did not stay for the full caucus meeting. They were only interested in casting their “straw ballot” votes for the Democratic candidate for President. The other half remained and tended to important party business, including the election of delegates to conventions up the line that will endorse party candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate. We also passed a number of important resolutions – one urging the nation to follow the Minnesota method of voting. Our voting is done on paper and then is scanned and counted electronically. Audits are made to insure accuracy and there is always an existent paper trail for recounts and accurate checks. It’s a good system that is virtually tamper-proof and very speedy. Straight computer voting is dangerous and may have contaminated our last two national elections. California has seen how this is so and has put its computerized voting machines in the old storage room.

We passed another resolution urging bonding for the expansion of the Mall of America in order to create much need construction jobs in the state. The estimate is that it would create 7,000 construction level jobs and another 7,000 jobs for other employees of the mall once the project is opened.

The caucus allows neighbors to get to know one another, or renew acquaintances, and learn about what concerns us all. We talk about it and consider if there might be political solutions. We talk about candidates that are on the scene and we deal with matters of party unity.

I’ll be going on to the next level as a delegate to the county and state-senate district convention. There, I’ll have an opportunity to vote for my choice for a candidate to the House of Representatives. Congressional conventions follow that and the competition for seats at those conventions heats up a bit.

For those of you who want to vote in a boring primary, you’ll have that opportunity in September. That’s for folks who want to challenge the choices the two political parties have made.

As I’ve said here before, quoting the late Tip O’Niel: “All politics is local!” If you really want to change America, you must be involved in local politics. The best starting point is at the political party caucus level. Go on line to your party’s web site to find out about when and where they’re held.

Next: The Real Ronald Reagan

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