26 March 2014

Caucus

Last Thursday, I did my civic duty by attending caucus.

My job, as I perceived it, was to sit with a few dozen politically-far-right citizens and vote for the ones that appeared to be the most open-minded and closest to center.  This has been difficult in past years since caucus typically attracts the most politically convicted among us; however, I hoped to find several atypical attendees due to President Thomas Monson's request that LDS church members attend caucus.

In our area, they announced the starting time as 6pm.  Caucus actually started at 7pm, so those of us who were told the incorrect time had a lot of time to get to know each other.  (By the way, Fort Herriman Middle School's band room is way better than I ever had!)

My first foray into the conversation was a bit of a microcosm for how the night was going to go for me.  The current Precinct Secretary said, "I wonder how the democratic caucus went."  Of course, I can't be sure whether she really wanted to know or not, but I piped up and said "it was poorly attended.  I was the only one from our precinct there."  A couple people asked questions about it, and I answered, but the important takeaway was that there was an attendee among them who was definitely a moderate.

(For the record, I'm fairly conservative, but when the prophet asks me to do something (attend caucus) I'm happy to fulfill that to the best of my ability.  I was available both evenings, so I went both evenings.)

I ended up chatting with a few folks who were very concerned about the land parcel north of the Heritage Place development in Herriman where the landowners are planning on putting in a large set of apartments.  To my surprise, one individual endeavored to link it up to Agenda 21 (would her opinion change if she knew the land in question was owned and being developed by the LDS church?).  Others were a bit more reasonable, citing that it was more likely the latest incarnation of the city's strategy to bring commercial development into Herriman (following the theory that more residents leads to more commerce).

The conversation turned to Common Core, which brought out the most impassioned members of the group. One member handed out a flyer that she had prepared that cited the 10th amendment as her reason for opposing Common Core, another member said "they are trying to take our children away from us."  To the former, I would say (but did not actually), "let's amend the constitution, then, to grant the government power to impose the common core, do you still oppose it?" The latter's words struck me as hyperbole or perhaps fud.  At the end of the day, it seems to me that many Americans (myself included) just don't like being told what to do.  A post for another day.

I probably could have summarized my opinion like this:  "I listen to Nightside, not Glenn Beck."

Any, I digress.  The meeting began, and nominations were open for state delegate.  Based on our initial conversations, I was completely shocked when someone nominated me for state delegate.

There were five nominated for three positions, so we all got up to stump for 90 seconds (ouch) each.  We were asked to summarize our opinions on the 1st and 2nd Amendment, Common Core, Count My Vote, Fiscal Conservative or "Big Spender" (yes, those were really the words written on the easel!), County Platform: Agree or Disagree, Any Candidates You Already Support, and Children's Rights vs Parental Rights.  (Phew! All in 90 seconds!)

Three were very typical candidates--Ryan, Eric, and Alden--who basically spoke the party line.  I know two of these individuals personally, though one is decidedly too ambitious and too convicted for my taste.  One member invoked a list of credentials (member of this conservative group, affiliated with that conservative group, etc.), which annoyed me a bit.  Another was the individual who cited the constitution earlier in the evening, Elise.  Again, very convicted and ambitious.

I was the black sheep, having painted myself that way throughout the evening.  I definitely came off as being very surprised to be up there.  I followed Ryan, and the first words out of my mouth were "I'm more moderate than Ryan."  I suspect that most folks heard nothing more of what I had to say, which may have been subconsciously what I wanted.  Still, I spoke on as many items as I could in the short time I had.  The only things that I remember saying were that I didn't like Common Core, I thought the Count My Vote compromise voted on by congress was interesting and provided a good experiment on an alternative to caucus, and I didn't really agree anymore with the Tea Party.  I was unique among the candidates on the last two items.

The vote went as expected.  The three that spoke the party line got the most votes.  The convicted constitutional individual was next, and I was a distant last.  (The fellow next to me said, "Don't worry, I didn't vote for you.")  If you are curious, I did vote for myself!

We moved on to county delegates.  We needed eight delegates.  A nasty social experiment appeared in my mind.  Most people wanted to go home at this point, so the general consensus was that we would only nominate eight people and move on without stumping.  I turned to Kristi and said "I'm going to nominate myself as the eighth person.  I want to see if anyone will nominate a ninth person in order to kick me out."

It would have been an interesting social experiment, but it didn't pan out.  For some inexplicable reason, someone nominated me as the fifth county delegate! Once we got up to eight nominations, the precinct secretary asked if there were any other nominations, there were none, and so it was official.

We also voted on Precinct Chair.  I voted my conscience again, picking the individual that seemed the most open-minded, the least ambitious, etc., etc.  I was happy to see my choice make it through.

In the end, it was cool to be a part of the political process.  I may gripe about conspiracy theorists and those that think that democrats are guided by the devil, but it is energizing to be among people that "show up" and that want to make things happen.

So, over the next few weeks, my goal is to post my findings as I go to meetings, etc. so that we can all hopefully be more informed voters.  See you at the polls!