politics { blog wars part IX

No there weren't VIII other parts, I just thought the title was good.

There was a discourse between the blogs 'Norweigiantity' and 'The Cucking Stool' and by discourse I mean in that intellectual smack down way. But I think I missed something in their debate.

Spotty falls back on a tiresome wingnut meme:

Of course, the reason that the people who volunteered to be delegates were not quizzed more closely about their choice for senator or congressman/woman is that most precincts had room for anyone who wanted to be a delegate to be one. From what Spot hears, that happened in some heavily-DFL precincts in Minneapolis and St. Paul, too. There was absolutely nothing to prevent anyone from asking who the delegate volunteers supported. Perhaps there is room for the discussion of a more formal primary system for presidential preference - and a discussion of who will pay for it - but what would you have us do for the other offices, professor?

[crickets] . . . [/crickets]

Crickets? Spot, old dog, all you had to do was ask me and I would have been glad to explain this to you.

First off, our favorite Dalmatian needs to realize that in no other state does the party endorsement precede a primary. This is Minnesota's problem, and one that the DFL is curiously resistant to discussing. This makes the delegate slots incredibly valuable, and a thing worth running for whether you want to participate in the party or not.

All across Minnesota people stepped up to become delegates not because they necessarily are hungry to do the hard work political parties need to have done, but because they want to advocate for their candidate for U.S. Senate. What happens to all those delegates whose candidates get flushed this June? I would argue that they largely drop out of the process, weakening the party in the general election.

Caucuses also favor the better retail politicians. They are one of the few things that stand in the way of entirely media-driven campaigns. Spot likes that and says it is healthy for democracy.

That's the theory, but not the practice. This year Minnesotans have been deluged with mass mailings thanks to Al Franken's successful out-of-state fundraising. That and Al's celebrity status benefited Franken enormously as he traveled the state drawing large crowds, but large crowds that he didn't necessarily convert to his cause.

Move the primary to May, and then ratify the voters' choice in June. That's the honest thing to do, and you still have a caucus system for the workers and activists.

But so long as Minnesotans yoke their party endorsement to a flawed system, the Minnesota caucuses will continue to weaken the DFL, costing the party dearly on election day.

And no, I don't think I sound much like a cricket.

I read both sides and can agree with points on both sides. I did notice in my Precinct (CD1, Ward 2, P1) everyone was all about the President, and there were a few advocating Senate race. But the Senate race was not a focus. Even though we had 300 people, attend, we had a hard time filling 29 delegates and 5 alternate spots.

I would agree there is a problem with how the DFL endorses candidates, but I don't think moving the Primaries up would solve it. Or rather I don't understand what was suggested in Norwegianity would fix. I do, as an average citizen feel there is a bit of a disconnect in the caucus (i.e. resolutions seem to take a backseat to candidates stumping, but this could also be a by product of how the DFL is run in Olmsted County). I was spoiled as my first caucus was 2004 in St Paul CD5/SD65A and it was an issue soaked passionate liberal smack down (in a positive way) where I coined the phrase Full Frontal Democracy.

I tend agree with Spotty, our current system isn't perfect, but I think it works and I feel it is healthy, however it could use a bit more dissension and discussion of issues. But again that may be an Olmsted County thing. CD5/SD65A caucus was all about issues and criticism of the local DFL (which in my opinion makes it stronger). I (and Nerdwife) were the only ones who confronted Rep Tim Walz at the caucus to inquire his reasoning behind voting for the FISA Bill back in August, and I'm glad I did. But we're both a different species of liberal down here than most.

Both in CD5 and here in CD1 everyone was welcoming of new people, at the Precinct level. At the county level in 2006 the Olmsted DFL executive committee tried to pass a bylaw that limited service in the leadership of the county DFL to those with six years of service to the party...which of course both angered and alienated the independents, Republicans, and Libertarians who left their parties to throw in with the DFL cause. That was a bad move and thankfully was voted down. New people were encouraged to be delegates, and some were voted in by consensus as delegates. Those who were interested, but shy, were greatly encouraged to if not serve as delegate, at least server as an alternate. It took a while but we eventually filled all 34 slots.

But never asked were the questions: Who do you support for Senate? Who do you support for President? Is that a problem? Yeah I guess it kinda is because it may mis-represent and filter so to speak delegates at higher levels (since one caucus elects delegates to the next and so on), however at the Senate District/County Level I think some of that is offset by the walking caucus, where people openly declare who they support and what issues they support.

What I think we need more of at the Precinct level is the walking caucus, but I realize the walking caucus is chaos and quite intimidating to first timers. It would also tax the volunteers, who at this years caucus I think did an amazing job with the 200-300% over projected turn out.

Also, the caucus serves a purpose more than just selecting candidates, it is also a forum for discussion on issues and resolutions, which work their way up to form the foundation of the DFL platform. Sadly it seems a lot of our resolutions are filtered down here by a select few, in 2006 I noticed a few good resolutions made at the precinct level never make the county/SD level. This was done under the guise of reducing duplicates, but even then, 75% of the 140+ resolutions brought to the convention were in fact duplicates or slight variation on a theme of support education, which in itself was well covered already in the DFL platform.

But again, I guess I don't understand the problem they were discussing, so I don't have a solution.

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