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February 7, 2004
My First Caucus

Tomorrow is Washington's Democratic Caucus. It's my first. I grew up in primary-land, never really thought much about a caucus. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really know what it was until a couple of months ago. I knew it had something to do with meetings.

So it'll be interesting to see how it goes. We're not even sure we'll be allowed to vote, Liz and I. We sent in our new voter registration forms about a month ago, but we haven't gotten anything back, so I don't think we're technically registered yet. They say you don't have to prove anything, or even show any ID, to participate in the caucus, just sign a form "identifying yourself as a Democrat." That's kind of weird.

Anyway, we'll see. If we can't vote, we can still watch. If we can participate, I'm thinking of running for delegate. Maybe I should make some pins.

Fun as they may be, I don't think I like the idea of a caucus versus a straight-up vote. I don't understand what the advantage is, and I can see several serious flaws.

First, the whole idea of declaring which candidate you support publicly is fucked up. It's great if you're proud of your choice, but it shouldn't be required. Peer pressure should not enter into the process for choosing a president. It may never happen, but it still opens the door for intimidation, however subtle.

Second, the caucus process disenfranchises some people just by virtue of it being held at a very specific time. What if you have to work? There's no such thing as an absentee caucus, as far as I know. I personally think even regular elections should be held over multiple days, to give as many people as possible a chance to get to the polls, but as it stands now, at least they have an entire day.

I think that's it. Two pretty big reasons if you ask me. As we try to spread democracy around the world -- sometimes via the "you'll be democratic or we'll kill you" technique -- I think we should promote the basic "one person, one vote" style. Even in Iraq some folks were up in arms when we suggested , forcefully I'm sure, that they use caucuses for their elections. They want to have a voice, give them a voice. All of them.

This is all your fault, Iowa. You and your strangely influential politics.

I kid, I kid. Go Hawkeyes!

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