Washington Democrats are in the unusual position of having BOTH precinct caucus meetings AND a primary election. But the state Democratic Party has decided to ignore the primary results entirely, and allocate delegates based on the caucuses only.
This is disenfranchisement. And the system should be scrapped. I advocate going to an ordinary primary election with proportional allocation of delegates.
On the way to my meeting, at Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center, I stopped into Ken's Market to grab a sandwich and a drink. Five people were working there; they didn't get to caucus. They didn't get heard. Next door, the bookstore and the bakery were open; their employees didn't get to caucus. Across the street from the center, Starbucks and Red Mill Burgers were open. In fact, all the shops were open, all over the neighborhood, the city, the state. That's thousands and thousands of people who don't get to have a say in who the nominee is.
One of those Saturday workers who didn't get to vote is Mrs. Fnarf. She and her cow orkers held a pretend caucus at work. 6-2 Obama.
At my caucus, an elderly woman mentioned her group of friends, none of whom have computers and none of whom knew where to caucus. Our caucus had moved from its 2004 location. They were too frail to come, anyways, and even if they had, the ones in wheelchairs could never have made it up the stairs to the third floor.
When this woman called the party hotline for help, the phone was busy, and the voice mailbox was full. She called many times. She finally got a neighbor to help her find her caucus.
Now unfolding is the scheduling snafu of the party. I'm an alternate delegate, and my little certificate has what turns out to be the wrong date for the County Convention on it: Saturday, April 19th. Unfortunately this conflicts with the Jewish holy day Passover (Erev Pesach). So they moved it to Sunday, April 13th. That's what I was told by my PCO at my caucus, at least. Turns out they moved it again, to Saturday, April 12th, but only in King County.
What we have now is a system where many of the people who want to participate are unable to do so, and many of the people who are able to can't figure out how to do it. Our nominee is going to be chosen by fewer than 10% of the registered Democrats in the state; the numbers participating is embarrassing even by the standards of an off-year school levy vote, and this is, as they continually remind us, the most important election ever.
Now, a lot of the people complaining about the caucuses are Hillary Clinton supporters. Barack Obama has done extremely well in caucuses across the country; they give him a clear advantage. Clinton has done better in primary elections. But I'm not a Clinton supporter; I caucused for Obama. But I would much rather hear from the two million or more of my fellow Washington Democrats than just rack up points for my man. I don't think it's fair.
I don't think it's democratic.
Get rid of the caucuses. Go to a primary election.