Sunday, February 10, 2008

Washington Democratic Caucuses

We went to the caucuses yesterday - what a cool experience!

Celia, a neighbor of ours, is the precinct captain and she encouraged us to go. It didn't take much effort. On the night before the caucus, she sent us mail asking if either of us would be willing to make a one minute speech on behalf of Barack Obama. Well, I hadn't prepared much but having had several discussions with people about how inspirational he is (particularly when compared with any other candidate) I volunteered and spent a few minutes on Saturday morning scribbling out a few sentences that captured my thought - and fit in one minute.

We showed up at the caucuses a couple of minutes after it was scheduled to start, but having gone to caucus training earlier in the week, we knew that nothing really started until 1:30. The parking lot was full. Cars were parked along the side of the road and we had to go several blocks before we could find a spot. Lots of people were caucusing at this school! As we walked in, we saw Celia who let us know that our precinct would be meeting in the library. As it turns out, two groups were meeting in the library so the room was packed with nearly 100 people.
The caucus got rolling with the standard script and as we got to the speech part I went second (after the Clinton speaker). While I tried to focus on my group, my presentation really went to the whole room.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are great candidates. Both are focused on fixing health care and the economy, ending the occupation of Iraq, combating global warming and reestablishing the United States as a respected international leader.

But only one candidate, Republican or Democrat, has the proven ability to not just lead, but inspire. Inspire us to do great things. To shake off the past 8 years of fear and darkness, divisiveness and mistrust and inspire all Americans to get back to our own business of working to make this country not just stronger, but better.

We’ve seen this potential - this hope - with Bill Clinton back in 1992 and John F. Kennedy a generation earlier. Candidates like Barack Obama do not come along every four years, but this year we have a chance to nominate, and then elect, a president who can inspire the people with his words and actions.

Words so powerful that musicians are inspired to write songs about his speeches. That thousands of people stand outside in a Seattle rain just to be close enough to hear them.

The office of the president is about leadership and the best leaders do not dictate.

They inspire.

After the speech, the attendees finished filling out the registration and first round of voting. Judging by the enthusiastic response to my presentation, and the significant number of people wearing Obama '08 gear, it was looking pretty positive for Barack. After our first count, Barack had 4 delegates and Hilary had 2. When the call was made for people to change their votes, if they so wished, a number of people came up to the voting table and changed their vote. On the second and final tally, Obama had 5 delegates and Hillary got 1.

The final step (after a brief fundraising attempt) was to elect the delegates to represent our precincts votes to the county caucus in April. After seeing this bit of democracy in action, I was curious about what the next stage would be so I volunteered and after a few minutes was elected as a delegate! Cool!!! Leslie was also elected so we will be headed to the 45th legislative district caucus on April 5 and the King County convention on April 13. Who knows, maybe we can ride this train all the way to the Democratic Convention in Denver this summer.
One of the most remarkable thing to me was the number of long time Republicans who were there to vote for Obama. There were A LOT of them and they were honestly excited about Barack Obama - and equally unexcited about the other options on both sides of the fence. Is this the start of something big?

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