I am a Democrat. Registered and all. This is not something usually admitted in print, as most editors fear they’ll undoubtedly be labeled “liberal media.” But the rest of the story is tough to tell without at least owning up to my party affiliation.
And, just for the record, it doesn’t cloud my news judgment. Scout’s honor.
Back to the story.
It was Tsunami Tuesday or Super Duper Uper Tuesday or whatever CNN called it that night. Twenty-four states held primaries or caucuses to help decide presidential for respective parties. Let’s be thankful we live in Colorado, where caucuses ruled the frigid February night.
Curious, I made my way to Denver’s Horace Mann Middle School—if you look closely, you can make out my sideburns in one of the photos that ran in the Rocky the next day—to voice my support for Sen. Barack Obama. He won me over during his visit to Aurora before he announced his candidacy. Reading his book a few months later only cemented my status in his camp. And in all honesty, I also went to the caucus to figure out what the heck a caucus actually is.
I’m still a little stumped despite the fact that a key Democrat Party member who resembled an assistant principal more than a politico read detailed instructions, later reinforced by my precinct captain.
Expecting a civil, democratic voting experience, I instead found something that looked more like picking teams for grade school kickball.
We took a straw poll. Hillary passed the 15 percent threshold. Barack did, too. A little known third candidate was on the ballot, too. Nobody had ever heard of him, and nobody raised a hand in support.
Then 46 of us, the proud members of northwest Denver’s precinct 505, shifted sides and looked at each other, gauging the level of our commitment to Clinton or Obama. We took turns lauding our candidates, quite civilly actually, trying to convince others to switch sides—similar to the NBC execs who spent the last three months trying to convince writers to cross the picket line.
The Obama camp actually gained one, giving the Illinois senator a commanding 31 to 14—one stay uncommitted—victory in Precinct 505. That means five of my neighbors who we selected based on sheer good looks, I think, will represent my opinion at the county general assembly.
Not that I’m complaining about selecting them. If I had a bit more hair and political ambition, I could’ve been a delegate. I trust they’ll serve me well.
Despite the hectic nature of the evening—and it was absolute mayhem for a while as more than a dozen precincts and seemingly close to 1,000 Democrats tried to cram into a middle-school cafeteria—it may have been the most honest political experience I’ve witnessed.
Approximately 180,000 Coloradoans from both parties came out that evening, setting all kinds of voter participation records. We sat in on what was in essence a town meeting. We came to a consensus, talked about important issues and helped earn our candidate the nomination.
In a day in age when common voting procedures are often called into question and apathy rules the political process, it was refreshing to see this much passion and interaction.
I’m not saying we changed the world. Heck, Hillary might win the Democrat nod and Sen. John McCain may beat her in the general election. But at least we were there, exercising our civil duty.
I only hope that momentum carries through to Nov. 7.