Saturday, March 26, 2016
Democracy is Messy
Democracy is messy, and noisy.
This morning we participated in the the precinct caucus for the Democrats of Washington State.
The Republicans will hold a quiet, ballot style primary in April. For Democrats, it is hands on, speak your mind, try to sway your neighbors, state your preference, and select delegates based on the outcome.
We met in a local elementary school cafeteria. There were about thirty precincts represented. We found our tables assigned by precinct, sat down and greeted each other as participants arrived. There were ten of us in our group, one young woman I knew who was a classmate of my son, and another woman my age I had met a long time ago in a school related activity. Others we didn't know looked at Tom and me and said, "You are the people who walk by my house all the time".
The directions weren't clear as we got started. It was a bit chaotic. We appointed as our Precinct Chair a young man who it turns out is a close neighbor, living with his parents so he can save up to buy a house of his own. The family is from Bosnia but are now US citizens. The others were another older couple like Tom and me, two middle aged men, one of Asian descent, the young woman and two younger men probably of Pacific Islander heritage. We were multicultural.
We were also of different minds. The vote for candidate preference was six for Hillary Clinton and four for Bernie Sanders. All Hillary supporters said they could vote for Bernie if it turned out that way. Three of the four Bernie supporters said they probably could not vote for Hillary. There were the usual comments about her not being truthful. We tried our best to say that changing your mind, or evolving, is not the same as lying. One man said if Hillary was the candidate he would vote for the Green Party. He had done that the last time. Oh well.
It was a noisy and disorderly process. I tried using my hearing aids and then tried turning them off. I eventually left them on when the leader wasn't at the microphone. The noise was distracting but I hung in there and did my job as secretary.
There were some passionate points of view among the ten of us. The two youngest men are quite unhappy with the lack of opportunity, the high cost of education and of the impossibility of buying a home in our inflated housing market. They want a Sanders revolution. Another Sanders supporter was adamant that we could not have another four years of status quo. He gives the current administration no credit and lots of blame. He wants us to take all the money we are spending on bombs and weapons in the middle east and use it to build schools and hospitals and human services. This is of course very idealistic, and pretty hard to do in a war zone without first achieving stability.
We Hillary supporters spoke to her experience and knowledge and ability to get things done. That didn't seem to matter to the idealistic Bernie boys. Most of us shudder at the thought of a Republican victory but one man said Trump might be better that Clinton.
So you can see we ten neighbors are a microcosm of what is going on in the Democratic Party this election year. A lot of people are hurting or discouraged. They are looking for answers, sometimes in the wrong places.
The other older woman and I talked together about the changes we have seen in our lifetime. Growing up in an era when sex was not even talked about, now we find ourselves supporting same sex marriage. We have evolved. We have experience. We have the wisdom that comes with experience. But just as when we were young we did not appreciate the wisdom of "old people", so too do the young reject our message now. It would do no good to try to explain that we had to work for everything we have and that things were not easy back in the "good old days" either.
The concerns of the young and idealistic are real. We all want solutions. We have to work together to make that happen.
With little interest from most of our group in going on to the next level, the legislative district caucus, I volunteered. I will go on to support Hillary and my point of view at least one more time. I don't think I will make it all the way to Philadelphia though. I'm not sure my ears could take it.