At The Caucus

The Texas Gal and I spent a little less than an hour last evening playing our small part in this nation’s political process: We attended our precinct caucus at a nearby elementary school, meeting with other members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party from our neighborhood.

(The party’s name – Democratic-Farmer-Labor – is a holdover from the 1944 merger of the Minnesota Democratic Party and the social democratic Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party in 1944. I learned at Wikipedia this morning, that Minnesota’s DFL is one of only two state parties affiliated with the national party that has a different name; the other odd party out is neighboring North Dakota’s Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party.)

Parties caucus every two years; the Texas Gal and I missed the 2014 meeting, but I think we’ve been at every other local caucus since we moved to St. Cloud in late 2002. Turnout last night was high; our precinct, which is not densely populated, had forty-two people cast votes in the presidential straw poll, substantially more than the last time we had a straw poll, which was 2008. Last night, we filled a classroom at the school, which we hadn’t done before. Other precincts that are more densely populated filled the school’s cafeteria and media center.

(The evening has Minnesota’s DFL clearly showing its populist roots: The straw poll results in our precinct had Bernie Sanders with 29 votes and Hillary Clinton with 13, which was a little bigger spread than in the state-wide results reported this morning: With 86 percent of Minnesota precincts reporting, Sanders leads Clinton by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin.)

A lot of Sanders’ support in our precinct came from young folks: I’d guess that about half of the forty-two people who voted were twenty-five or younger. My major disappointment of the evening was that about half of those young folks left right after the straw poll (which is used to apportion delegates to the local district convention, where delegates to the state convention will be selected, and so on up the ladder) and thus they did not take part in the other portions of the caucus, which included selecting those delegates, selecting precinct officers and debating resolutions offered by those at the caucus.

I offered two resolutions: One advocating a national health care system based on the Medicare model, and one advocating an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bars capital punishment. Both passed, the first unanimously and the second with one dissenting vote. That latter result, to be honest, surprised me. The same resolution was rejected at our precinct caucus eight years ago.

The Texas Gal and I will continue our involvement at least one more step: We volunteered to be among our precinct’s delegates to our State Senate District convention in a couple of weeks. It will be the first time for her to move beyond precinct activities, I think. For me, it’s a resumption of my involvement in DFL politics; during my years in Monticello, I was active in the Wright County DFL, attending several county conventions. I doubt I’ll be that active again, but I’ll probably end up doing more in the precinct; our precinct chair is also a member of our Unitarian Universalist fellowship (and a fellow musician there), so I’ll likely pitch in down the road if he needs some help.

As to appropriate music this morning, I searched the 87,000 tunes in the RealPlayer for the word “vote.” I found the album Devoted by one-time American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook and a few tracks that actually deal with voting. The best of them comes from 1969, when voting in the U.S. was still limited to those 21 and older. The duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were among those wanting the voting age lowered (which happened in 1971, when those 18 and older were granted the vote), and the pair released a single titled “L.U.V. (Let Us Vote).”

The record was pretty much ignored: It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, never getting any higher than No. 111. But it’s an interesting artifact of the times.

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One Response to “At The Caucus”

  1. I would like to listen to that entire album if anyone has it, couldn’t find it anywhere.

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