The Precinct Caucus (and its variations)

Tonight is Precinct Caucus night in Minnesota. Here’s the pertinent information from Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Every state has some kind of analogous activity. The caucus is the beginning of the process to elect the people who represent us, and where issues important to us first surface as individuals present rough-cut statements of priority to the vote of their fellow citizens in the room. Typically, sadly, there are only a few of us rattling around in a classroom. Everyone will be able to qualify to be a a delegate at the next level, the Senate District Convention on March 10.

Even among those who show up, not everyone will take the bait. But at least they showed up.

In about ten months we all have an opportunity to vote on the results of those caucuses – for candidates for local, state and national offices, each running on issues on which they think a majority of those actually voting will support. Then, typically, we settle back to become part of the audience to the bright shining points of light evident in a place that works; or, alternatively, to observing a continuing political train wreck.

Tonight at my caucus, at minimum I expect to see two young people stopping by, introducing themselves as possible nominees for state legislature, running for the seat from which the incumbent, Joann Ward, is retiring. Joann has been outstanding in her three terms.

I’d like to introduce the two people I know of who’ll (probably somewhat nervously) show up in my caucus room tonight: see Greta Bjerkness, also on Facebook; and Tou Xiong001.

Greta has already called me on the phone; Tou (pronounced “two”, stopped by here on a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon to drop off his flier. Both made excellent impressions, and between now and March 10 will be very hard work for both (and possibly others) who seek citizen endorsement to represent tens of thousands of us in the state legislature.

In the meantime, other citizens, people I know, have been sending around positions on issues of one kind or another, both here in Minnesota, and even other states. At every caucus, resolutions on issues will be proposed by citizens. It does not take long to realize that whomever is elected, wherever, asks for the difficult job representing everyone.

But the most important job of all is that of each of us as citizens.

What we are is truly who we elect. And it behooves us to be active and well informed.

POSTNOTE: in Sunday’s blog I introduced an excellent book for citizens. Its simple title, Soul of the Citizen. It is short stories about making a difference.

Soul of a Citizen“…the book is now 18 years old [but that makes] no difference at all. We all can make a difference. One of Loeb’s chapters was headed by this quote, from Dorothy Day: “People say, what is the sense of our small effort. They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time.”

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