Sunday, January 25, 2004

Caucus Insanity

OK, that's quite enough surfing of for one night. I tell ya, that site is such a guilty pleasure and the biggest problem is that you always find out just enough to pique your curiosity and to find out any more, you have to pay for the damn thing. No way—I'm not that interested in what my former classmates from high school are doing.

I haven't written in forever and I'm not entirely certain why that is. It's been a crazy month. The Dean campaign consumed us during the month of January and the run-up to the caucuses. It seems like the staffer for Washington and Henry county was calling us every other day with some request or another. Truthfully, Heidi and I are just not cut out for the life of political activists. We're too introverted to really be effective and speaking for myself, it's mostly just aggravating because I felt so strongly about it and anyone who didn't agree with me was mostly just being dumb and not seeing the light. Yeah, that's a really ridiculous thing to think because, hello, there are more answers than just the one in my head, but y'know!

The whole caucus thing was a big disappointment—and not just because Dean performed so poorly in Iowa. For some unknown reason, Heidi (and by default, me as well) were Dean precinct captains which basically meant that we were the big campaign people at our precinct's caucus. Well, neither of us had ever caucused before and boy were we in for a surprise. Part of the trouble was that in the weeks leading up to the caucus, Dean had been the frontrunner and we had been led to believe (erroneously) that there would be a large number of Dean supporters in the room. Well, we got there and we looked out at this vast sea of Kerry and Edwards supporters—and some of those people had gone on the record as being Dean supporters! The campaign had been serious about getting all potential supporters called and what not, but it seemed to me that the campaign turned a lot of voters off with the incessant calling. I know that I talked to more than my fair share of people that were just sick of the whole thing and didn't want to hear anything more about any of the candidates.

So we're in the room and the Edwards precinct captain is really damn annoying but, admittedly, really good at his job. You could tell this wasn't his first caucus. The Kerry people were pretty quiet for the most part. There were a few Gephardt people and a couple of Kucinich people as well, but the Dean, Edwards and Kerry groups were the only ones that were viable. The Gephardt people quickly split between Edwards and Kerry, and we grabbed one of the Kucinich people. I don't know what happened to the other Kucinich supporters—maybe they left. That was just the thing. There was so much confusion in the whole thing. I tried to count heads in our group several times and kept getting different results. I mean, all we needed was 9 people in the group to be viable and we ended up with 12, but I couldn't keep track because of the general craziness in the room and the Edwards guy talking above just about all the noise in the room. All these Edwards and (to a lesser extent) Kerry people were giving us this evil eye like "how DARE we come to the caucus if we weren't going to support their candidate?" Well, pardon fucking me, but this is still a democracy and I can stand and be counted for whichever candidate I want.

After the whole thing was over I had this split feeling of having done the right thing by taking part in the political process but realizing just how screwed up the caucus system really is. I mean, it was so easy to manipulate, especially in our small town. It was all about who you knew and how you could make them feel uncomfortable enough till they came and stood with you. And I think that was the thing that bugged me the most. Here we are in our small town at was is ostensibly a meeting of our neighbors and we never felt more alienated in our life. This is a really conservative town and I thought "Wow! What a great opportunity to meet other Democrats in town." Well, if these are the Democrats, I can't get down to the courthouse to switch my registration back to Independent quickly enough. They looked at us icily and there was no sense of what should be the ultimate goal—getting rid of Bush. It was all about the candidates, which I suppose I should have expected. It so didn't matter to the Edwards supporters that their guy really has no chance. Unfortunately, it's all going to come down to money in the long run. And Dean's the only one with it.

It makes me want to leave this town so much—so much I'm looking for other jobs. Not that I'm unhappy in my job, but I'm just so unhappy in this town. We've been here for five years now and we barely know anyone. If you're not born and bred here, then you're not welcome. I worry sometimes that it's us—that we're the dysfunctional ones and not the town, but even if it is, we're still not a good fit for the town.

But after all my political campaigning, I must say that I'm glad the focus is on other states from here on out. It's fun to have the candidates come through and have them come to your house and things like that, but I'm glad it's over. I'm ready to go back to something I'm good at—the Oscars!

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