Note especially the comments at the end of this post from Jodell and Fred, who are local activists who I asked to review my column and point out errors or additional information. At the very end, I make a recommendation for a resolution and individual action by all of us, this year.
The Minnesota Precinct Caucuses are February 1. I happen to be Democrat and I almost always go to the local caucus, which for the last 20 years or so has been somewhere in the Woodbury area. If you’re in my area, and my political brand, here’s the local portal for my own Senate District. [I asked the local folks to fact-check this post. Comments from any of them are at the end of the post.]
This year our local caucus is ‘contactless’, as in virtual, pre-registration required. I don’t know if this is general, or simply local. I think it is prudent given the still omni-present Covid-19 and its variants. By now, I’m a veteran of Zoom (not always enamored by it) but I think it’s going to be the future of meetings, generally, and best to get well acquainted with it.
My local Senate district succinctly describes the caucus: “The precinct is the smallest political unit in the country where its residents vote at one location.” Every state has its own version, date, etc. It is the starting block for the formal political process ultimately ending in the general election 2022.
This years caucus is the decennial one – the census year caucus. This means redistricting, which will likely not be concluded in Minnesota till sometime in March. So, after redistricting happens, any particular address may be in another precinct; perhaps might be in another legislative district; my district may have a different number. Nobody knows that yet. Here’s a primer for Minnesota. (If you’re in another state, check first with Secretary of State’s website for information.)
It is my experience that citizens tend to dismiss the importance of Precinct Caucuses, however they are defined state by state.
This is very unfortunate.
Typically, the business of our precinct caucus has two essentials: 1) selecting delegates to represent at the next level convention; 2) consider resolutions submitted by persons in attendance at the caucus. The Democrats are diligent in matters relating to fair treatment, such as gender.
Typically, anyone who wants to be a delegate can be – I don’t recall one where there were too many candidates, though I’m sure this happens on occasion in districts where there are hot issues.
Resolutions are ‘cooks choice’ – most anything can be proposed. If passed, all resolutions are considered by a committee after the convention, solely to make sense of the variety of wordings on resolutions of the same topic from various people.
I have served on next level committees, and democracy is respected and cherished.
I subscribe to the position that our Democracy is in more peril than ever in our history. Even in the Civil War, there was a United States of America, against which was the rebellious Confederate States. Now the issue seems to be Democracy vs Autocracy, and the threat is real – witness the daily news, most everywhere.
We absent ourselves from participating in our democracy at our own ultimate peril.
(By far the largest caucus I ever attended was in February, 2008, in rural Lake Elmo MN. I had to park at least a half mile from the caucus location in a junior high school. There were so many people in attendance that informal balloting for presidential preference was slips of paper. What led to the interest that year, of course, was the Iraq War, the increasing danger to the U.S. economy, and the contest for president primarily involving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.)
A distressing feature of that caucus, and others more recent, is that many people showed up to do the straw poll for President and then left. Those who chose to stay became the potential delegates to the succeeding conventions which led to the ultimate endorsed candidates for office.
Those who came and left early represent the danger to our Democracy. While they were there for a time, and can be thawed for that, full participation is necessary.
It is customary to blame the Party(ies). It is not the Parties fault, nor is it the Parties responsibility. Ultimately it is we individual citizens who choose to vote or not; to vote informed or ignorant; to vote for one office, or for every office.
We choose our own fate….
Participate fully at every level. There is no other choice.
COMMENTS to this post I requested from local representatives, as well as one from myself:
https://www.sd53.org is doing a Zoom + Pie event on President’s Day, Feb. 21.
4) Here are the Resolutions passed in 2020 by 60% of the state convention Delegates.
DFL Party Platform (Philosophy) https://dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/DFL-Ongoing-Platform.pdf