caucusing for Obama in the other Washington

Yesterday I attended my precinct caucus for the first time in my voting life, really the first time in my life. I don't remember my parents ever going, but they probably did since my father once considered running for the state legislature, though I couldn't say how seriously. I've been a registered voter since 1976, having just avoided Vietnam by turning 18 that year (even though the draft ended a bit before, as did the war itself) and having witnessed, though from afar, the debacle of Watergate. As you might guess, I was eager to vote as this was the first election allowing 18 year olds to vote and Carter seemed a breath of fresh air. In some respects, young voters were as charged up about voting then as they seem to be this time around, getting to vote for someone rather than against someone else. But enough of that.

My caucus site, Democratic by the way, was a meeting place for six precincts. It was the elementary school that is just a two-minute walk from the house, where our son would be going if he weren't enrolled in the Montessori program at a different school. I neglected to check my voter registration card because I never need it. Spokane County votes entirely by mail in typical elections, but for the primary and presidential nominating process, we are among the states that use a caucus system. Because the ballot comes in the mail, we fill it out, slap on a stamp, and send it back. No more trooping to the school, church or wherever to cast a ballot, which is kinda of a downer. When we first moved to Spokane and lived in my grandmother's house, all the poll workers knew my name and we'd strike up conversations. Yesterday, we did have some chats with neighbors, but we regularly chat with them anyway.

The school lunchroom was packed, so full that at least two precincts had to move to other parts of the building. When it came time to caucus, which means speak for or against a candidate, it was so loud, and so many people have voices that don't carry, that it was all but impossible to hear most speakers. There were about 90 of us crowded around some tables in the lunchroom where we signed in and listed our first choice, either Obama or Clinton, or chose undecided. The early vote was roughly 67 Obama, 13 Clinton and 10 undecided. After deciding that meant six delegates to the county convention for Obama, one for Clinton and one uncommitted, a bit of talking went one. Most who switched went from undecided to Clinton, giving her a second delegate which left no uncommitted delegate with only four of those folks left. A few stragglers came along and Obama had about 70 to Clinton's 16 to four undecided/uncommitted.

There wasn't a lot of talking or arguing at our table. One former Republican said he supported Barack but would sit out the election if Hillary got the nod. There were also a number of military from the nearby Air Force base speaking for Barack and against the way the war has been handled, questioning whether there should even be a war. After the final count, delegates were selected. I was tempted to put my name in as a delegate. Part of my motivation was my father's late-cousin, who shares my last name, was treasurer for the state Democratic party. There were plenty of folks wanting to attend the county convention, which will take place on my birthday in April. I thought about throwing in as a secondary/backup delegate, but there was too much confusion for me to want to stick around. I left the caucus, with my wife who is also an Obama supporter, pretty satisfied with the process and product, surprised that people were so much more behind Barack than Hillary. We also got a sign to stick in our window. I'd could keep going, but I'll leave it here.