Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Real democracy

I let my graduate class out early last night and raced to my Texas precint hoping I wouldn't be too late to caucus. I shouldn't have worried.

When I arrived a little after 7:00 the line was long. (How exciting! ...I had experienced a line when I early voted as well...the first time that has ever happened in my voting experiences). Despite the slightly chilly weather and two-inch heeled boots I had on, I was happy to stand. Seeing people wanting to get involved in the democratic process gave me energy...a pride in democracy that I didn't know I had.

I moved back in line to stand with a friend that I never knew lived just a few blocks from me(amazing how democracy brings us together! :) ). As we waited, we wondered what it meant to "caucus." We pieced our knowledge together and decided to get more involved by attempting to become delegates.

Sign in was slow. Once we finally made it to the door, signed in, and ultimately sat down to wait some more, we realized that although our knowledge of the process wasn't very polished, the people in charge weren't much more knowledgeable than we were. We were all in the room learning together. Though I made snide comments about how little the people in charge knew, I still had to marvel at the fact that anyone and everyone--educated or not--was included in the process.

Finally, around 8:15 or so, a lady got everyone's attention to inform us that 207 people had signed in--158 for Barack and 49 for Hillary. Therefore, Barack would receive 18 delegates and Hillary would receive 6 delegates. If we were interested in being a delegate, we could stay and caucus; if not, we were free to go. (Basically, it seems, if you have enough gumption to return to put your name on the list a second time, you get a say so in the number of delegates a candidate receives).

In a somewhat unorganized and semi-undemocratic way (we were all trying to figure out the best way to make this work), several of us put our names down on a sheet saying we would be delegates. I think there was supposed to be a vote...but by that time the pool of people had narrowed and few were left in the room.

My friend, Monica, became a delegate for Hillary and I became a delegate for Barack. They asked for resolutions. I don't think any of us really knew what to "resolute." One man attempted a resolution (which sounded more like a list of why Bush shouldn't be in office anymore...but, who knows...maybe that is what resolutions are). After a near scuffle because they told him they couldn't add it...then a readjusted statement to say that he had to write it down for it to be added to the minutes...they asked for "amendments." Since he didn't re-state it or read what he had written, none of us "amended." I can only hope that I agree with what he said (proof that Iraq's democratic process is not the only one that needs work!)

Primaries and caucusing have seemed to create a new excitement among a lot of people. As I left around 9:00 I began returning calls of several friends and family who were curious to hear my experience with the "Texas Two Step."

As I've thought about my experience last night, I've decided I wholeheartedly agree with Michelle Obama when she said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." For the first time, it seems that average people feel like they have a voice and a role in this election. Yesterday, people I would've never expected were calling me asking about where to vote and how to caucus. Last night, polling places were overwhelmed in a way they had never been before.

I believe the closeness of the race has done that, but I also believe Barack has inspired that in people. His message is not just about bringing the congress together to create bi-partisan support for's not just about talking to foreign leaders we agree's not just about the top people making decisions for's not about the President and Congress becoming dictators of the's about all of us talking, listening, and working together for change in a way that will benefit everyone!! Now THAT'S an America I can be proud of!
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