My Caucus Night

Here in Minnesota, Barack Obama won the presidential primary 67% to 32% with 1% going to “other”. In my own precinct, the “other” category included Edwards, Kucinich, Dodd, and oddly, John McCain. Was the guy who voted for McCain confused, thinking he could vote GOP at a democratic caucus, or was he some kind of po-mo Rush Limbaugh, protesting McCain’s candidacy as some kind of liberal conspiracy. (Just as a side note, Limbaugh claims that he wouldn’t vote in the general if McCain won the nomination. If he really meant it, he would give up his radio program, too…)

So I was totally a precinct captain for Barack Obama. Since unlike this guy, I was unable able to string a couple more MPR internships together, I decided to volunteer for the Obama campaign. It was an odd moment – I was just sitting around being unemployed, cleaning up my house, and then I realized that I should really be helping Obama win Minnesota. (As another side note, that sort of private moment of PURPOSE or whatever, it was very similar to realizing I wanted to play the bass in a rock band.)

Being a precinct captain in the Obama campaign means that you’re responsible for getting the vote out in your precinct. So I had a list of 500 people who had voted democratic my little area, sweet little w-13 p-7. First, I called about 300 of them. That took 3 days. Most of the time, it went a little something like this:

“Hello, my name is Alex – I live just down the street from you at 44th and Aldrich, and I’m the precinct captain for our neighborhood for the Obama campaign. I very much hope you’re considering voting for Barack on Tuesday, February 5th – That’s only 3 days from today. The people in our neighborhood will be voting at the Clara Barton School between 6:30 and 8:00 in the evening, so, if you are an Obama supporter or would like more information, please give us a call at our Minnesota Headquarters: 651-645-2008. And of course, there’s always the website at http://www.minnesota.barackobama.com. Thanks, and I’ll see you February 5th.”

That’s because I reached less than a third of the people – that was the message I must have left over 200 times, not counting the 500 or so more calls I made to other precincts over the weekend.

I also went door to door. I got a list of “likely caucus-goers” from the campaign and I went knocking on people’s door on the morning before the Super Bowl. A surprising number of people were home and willing to open the door. Here’s my best story from canvassing that day:

It all begins the previous day, at the Target Center, where Barack Obama rallied me and 19,999 other of his supporters/fans/groupies. The mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, was on hand to introduce him, and some other important people, too. Keith Ellison, the first muslim congressman, notably. (I should mention that the nasty emails that are saying Obama is some kind of manchurian candidate because he plans to SWEAR HIMSELF IN ON THE KORAN!!!!! – that shit stems from Keith, who did. Took some heat for it, but liberal Minnesota loves him all the more for it – you should have heard the cheer that he got from the crowd.)

So I’m canvassing, and I get like three names who all live at this one house. There’s an Obama lawn sign out, which isn’t all that rare, but still, I thought that I’d go on up and just revel in the obama-love with my neighbors. A gentlemen comes the door – “Raymond?””R.T. How are you?””Wow – you’re our Mayor. My name’s Alex, and I guess I don’t need to convince you – I saw you giving Obama an excellent introduction last night…””Oh, well thank you. Are you our precinct captain? Come on in.”And so the mayor of Minneapolis invited me, and he went over my list and said, oh well, this guy, he won’t go, but see if you can get his wife, and these people, if they can find a babysitter, and forget about those people, they’re republicans, and oh, marsha, she’s a hillary supporter. He knew probably 60 percent of the people on my list, and then told me to go to about 4 or 5 other houses, just to be safe. It was pretty cool.

And now on to caucus night. It all started at Clara Barton at 5. I got there with 8 handmade signs and a bunch from the campaign. And stickers too. I talked to the “convener” who is the person who runs the caucus about where I could set up – she said outside. It was only like 20 degrees, so I went out and waved my signs to the passing cars. the “Yes We Can” poster probably got the most honks.

People started streaming in around 6:15. I felt bashful about asking people if they were going to vote for Barack, so I went another route. “Would you like a sticker?” And I was holding a huge “Vote Here for Obama!” sign, so there wasn’t any confusion about what sort of sticker we were talking about…Lots of people took them. I ran out pretty fast, but luckily, our dear Mayor, R.T. Rybak was there with stickers too. He was inside though.

Around 7:30, I went into vote too. You just frickin write down a name. No ballot or nothing. It was a stupid cardbord box with a slit in it, nothing more high-tech than that.After that, the caucus was convened, which was an hour-long event. Terrible terrible process. Oh man. We had to vote on the freeeeeking rules by which to vote on shit! all anyone wanted to do was to vote for the democratic Senate nomination. (Franken, Ciresi, or Nelson-Pallmeyer – I didn’t know much about them ‘cept Franken’s a funny guy who worked on a pretty bad liberal radio network. I had heard the three debate on MPR that afternoon, and Nelson-Pallmeyer did the best job, even though he’s polling at like 5 percent.)

Anyway, it took forever, we settled on a walking caucus, with the stupid corners of the room. We counted off and shit. then we had to do it again, after we tried to convince the undecideds…lame. Not democratic at all. The process gets WAY in the way of people’s intentions. And there isn’t any actual debate whereby “issues” get aired out (as if people at a caucus would be capable of a reasoned, informed debate anyways), it’s just red-frickin-rover.

When that was all over (Nelson-Pallmeyer did very well, btw) we got the presidential results. 103 for clinton…..and 252 for Obama! Here’s the official list for my senate district: go to the bottom for w-13 p-7.We went home and had a pizza. Go Obama.

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6 Responses to “My Caucus Night”


  1. 1 No Nonsense February 7, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Nice post– The causus process sounds pretty cool! Go Obama

  2. 2 jeje February 7, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Cop!! I’m so proud of you for being politically active! I thought I was making a difference through my 25$ donation and being praised by the Obama email writer for taking “ownership” of US politics. I should have been in the campaign here in Scarsdale. Hot Obama Girls!

  3. 3 ishum February 8, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Jeje – are you kidding? You’re an unemployed post-college drifter – that you care enough to donate 25 dollars to a political campaign at ALL is incredible. And then Obama gets to hold you up with the 300,000 other people like you since Jan 1st and say shit – this here’s a movement.

  4. 4 Sebastion Bach February 8, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Who are these intruders? This is my territory!

  5. 5 ishum February 8, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Oh shit man. The tubes is catchin up.

  6. 6 jeje February 8, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Hey! I’ll have you know that I’m a commercial director for a start-up drug company. Thats practically republican!


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