Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"hope" is the thing with feathers

I had never caucused before tonight. I had no idea what to expect. But here it was, Democracy in Action. DIA. It was fascinating! A small, diverse group of people, standing around in a semi-circle, speaking frankly about their candidates and their issues. It was insane in its provincialism, and beautiful in its simplicity.

I'm not sure what I liked most about my Precinct 50 caucus. Perhaps it was.....

The gray-haired man holding the little baby girl in the red velvet dress declaring that the only candidates saying anything reasonable about "his" issue: pot smoking, were Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. Several of us hollered in communion.

Raising my hand for John Edwards in the straw poll.

Watching my husband raise his hand for Joseph Biden in the final poll. Integrity and pride he has in no small measure.

Listening to my neighbors' and friends' impassioned voices about health care and education. We put forth six resolutions! The cynics among you can say, "Yeah, like they'll ever get to Washington." But you see, that's not the point, really. The point is that people are thinking and caring and wanting and hoping and trying.

"Aren't there any other feminists in the room?!" (Most, if not all, of the Hillary supporters appeared to be women over 50)

Joking about where the Precint 50 after-party was going to be, and wishing we would have asked Guillermo at Cucuru to host it.

Finding a 15-year-old boy who wants to babysit who only lives three blocks away!

Taking dictation from our local friendly 24th street drunk who said, "The cost of living raise for people with disabilities should keep pace with the cost of living", and helping him sign his name to the resolution. It passed.

Meeting an 18-year-old young man voting in his first presidential election.

It was a strange thing that happened tonight. Magic. I knew half of the people in that room. Another quarter I met. It wasn't just a vote. It was a community-building exercise. I'm not waxing sentimental here, folks. At one point, in the middle of all of our discussion about resolutions, I simply said, "Why don't we just put down, 'Save the World'". Laughter. Because we know we can't. Because we know the forces we are up against. And yet...... I saw our small pathetic caucus, imagined thousands of others like it across America tonight, and felt power in words and hands.

And at the end of the night, I raised my hand for Obama, knowing simply this: his presence in the race is what had brought most of us out of our houses, children in-tow, curious about the process of the caucus for the first time in our lives, to stand around for one-and-a-half hours while our feet began to ache, to try and make the world a better place.
And that counts for something.


Friar Tuck said...

my friend had the opposite experience, but he went to a republican caucus in a mormon neighborhood.

suesun said...

"a republican caucus in a mormon neighborhood"........ can't think of anything scarier!

Chris said...

I walked into the caucus not liking them at all. I left feeling very conflicted. It was a phenomenal experience, and I'm glad we were all there. At the same time, there has to be a way to include people who work evenings (often in low-pay ingjobs), who are elderly or sick and can't get out, and so on. These are some of the people who deserve a voice most of all; and we, as a party, told them they weren't welcome here.

I don't know the answer here. In any case, I now have a better idea of what we'd be missing if we chose a different way. It's hard to argue against being informed; but it has a pesky habit of getting in the way when you're convinced you already know what's right or wrong.

Maria said...

Obama is speaking in Omaha today. Liv went after school with a classmate and her parents to hear him. My back is acting up and I can't go, but I am just...excited. My daughter is growing up in exceptional times.

reliv4life said...

Very interesting...certainly gets my mind churning and thinking! thanks for sharing so candidly!

RichandMary said...

That was a thoughtful presentation of an extraordinary evening ... an evening repeated in neighborhoods across the country. This is more than a campaign; a spirit of community has been released, both in supporters and others. Mothers and fathers with children, old and young, first-timers and veterans, a variety of opinion greeted with appreciation and respect.
Politics as it should be. Si se puede.

suesun said...

thanks Rich and Mary.... it was great to see you there, and great to read you here!

As to Chris's comments-I wish there were a way to have both a caucus and a mail-in ballot. Don't see that happening in the near future. But I do understand your concern and compassion for those who were disenfranchised by the process.