Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why I am Caucusing as a Dem

Here is my thinking on why I am facilitating the Democratic Caucus in little Seldovia.

The only political party affiliation I ever claimed previous to this point was as a Green. The Greens kinda faded after 2000; couldn’t quite recapture the Nader magic after that one. And until today I have been registered as an independent. But I am not part of the great “middle” of the political spectrum. That coveted voter who along with the support of a party’s base will put that will put them in the White House.

I am that pissed off liberal that sees an amazing opportunity for this country of great wealth and resource to be an amazing force for good in the world. I have resisted the Dems because they have always seemed to be the other side of the same coin; served the same corporate masters. I wanted them to know that I if they wanted my vote they had to move my way. I believe in almost all of what the Green Party of America platform states, but registering Green was a protest vote against the right ward drift of the Democratic Party.

That only mildly worked. I give. I have reached middle-age and gained a full understanding that I am not going to drastically and cataclysmicly change the world. A little shift to my way of viewing the world would be nice, it might even give me a little hope that this country can right itself and get back to the reality based world view.

So as an Alaskan voter, how am I going to have an impact on the candidate that will be elected in 2008. This has to be a Democratic year, not that they can’t blow it, history shows. But look at the candidates. I am certainly prejudiced, but the Republicans, who have always valued style over substance, haven’t even been able to agree on a style this year. Usually one style has to take the fore front: Macho Cowboy Swagger, Big Business CEO, Military General, Christain Warrior. They just aren’t on their game this cycle. And let’s face they are wrong.

But Alaska will more than likely reflexively vote for a Republican. In the all or nothing system of the electoral college, my vote will mean nothing. By participating in the Democratic Caucus and voting my preference of candidates at this point. I will lend support to that person going into the National Democratic Convention. If my candidate isn’t the party choice, they will have an ability to at least affect the party platform. My view point will have some credence and the world will being to bend to my will.

Well the past seven years have taught me a thing or two. But these years have been decades in the making with a cadre of motivated and crazy right-wingers moving their party further and further right to capture a fringe herd of fundy nut-jobs that will vote as told. Now the great right-wing boogeyman of old, Barry Goldwater, would seem to have a lot more in common with Clinton than he would of with GWB. The swing of the pendulum of American politics, I feel, has to have reached it’s zenith on the right. It is our responsibility to get hold of that pendulum and swing it hard as hell the other way.

The two party system sucks, but a one party system sucks even worse!


Salt said...

Party affiliations in Alaska in general and Seldovia specifically are slippery things, not necessarily reflective just of political philosophy but also of political strategy.

At the April, 2007 election the poll staff and I did some data mining in the precinct register. This is my blog entry on what we discovered and what I thought about it then:

"It’s always interesting to see what percentage turnout a given election produces, although we’ve always been wary of the accuracy of our register list in terms of how updated a picture it provides of current residents. So in a few of our quiet moments during the day we had a look at that. With four of us reviewing the 377 names registered, we came up with 30 who we are sure are either dead or conclusively moved away (folks like former schoolteachers or city managers; folks we know sold residences and have not purchased anything else local). That doesn’t include recent high school graduates no longer living in town (we don’t know whether or not they are maintaining this as their legal residence) or names that none of us recognized at all. Of those, there were perhaps another dozen or so. So the register is actually more accurate, now, than it has been at times in the past.

"While we were data mining, we also took a look at party affiliations. It’s none of our business who is registered as what, so that wasn’t we were paying attention to. But it is our business to have a poll staff that reflects a reasonable party spread, just so no party can accuse a precinct of bias or manipulation along party lines. This is something the state is making more of a point of each year, so it behooves us to know what we have to work with. A broad spread can sometimes be difficult to effect in a small community when one person’s family emergency or illness can wipe an entire affiliation out of that lineup, so we asked the question; how are the different affiliations represented in this particular precinct? Here’s what we (roughly, with multiple interruptions) counted:

* Nonpartisan: 75
* Undeclared: 167
* Republican: 75
* Democrat: 34
* Alaska: 12
* Green: 6
* Moderate republican: 3
* O(ther?): 3

"Why so many N and U voters? I don’t think it’s a case of Seldovians being particularly indecisive or secretive. My observation is that this has arisen since the Republican Party moved to close participation in their primary election to non-republicans (or, more specifically, to democrats, since pretty much anyone else is permitted to select a republican ballot in the primary). I didn’t work terribly many elections before that change, but my sense of things is that there once were rather more R and D voters, but they have gradually been dwindling and replaced by the N and U designations."

While I applaud your efforts to bring participation in the Dem caucus to Seldovia, I doubt you're expecting a very heavy turnout and I think you're correct to do so. While we may have many who are in line with that party or have reached similar conclusions to yours, we simply don't, for reasons that I think have to do with the way our elections are structured, have a lot who are registered Democrats.

It occurs to me to wonder if that will change this year, or if people will stick with their own registrations and vote in a more fluid fashion. Remind me to do a recheck on the precinct register, okay?

Steve said...

I know it's a cliche, but each person doing his or her load will move everything along. If you do your part, you can sleep easy. Thanks for what your doing.

Freshwrestler said...

Yea I am not really expecting a big turn out, but I wouldn't be too surprised to 15-20. I wouldn't be stunned to to have 5.
I think another thing I am secondarily addressing in our little town is the "indecisive or secretive" thing. It is a code of silence, and it only serves the rigid and smug. All the background triangulation and political manipulation and just mean spirited crap that is just soul sucking. I think some open dialogue and having other power structures beyond the tribe and city, however minor, can only help. Maybe we should come up with a new organization in town like the Republican Moderates/Metcalf did. Seldovians Having Intelligent Talk.