I attended the Republican Party Caucus on Saturday as a participant. My only intention was to vote and possibly become a delegate to the Washoe County convention. If history is a guide, becoming a delegate wouldn’t be a problem since hardly anyone from my precinct bothers to show up at these things. As fate would have it, I was “elected” precinct chairman, which was a new experience.
As we were talking before the meeting, it became apparent that I was the only one of the five of us that had ever been to a party meeting of any kind before. One guy suggested I be the chairman. No vote was taken, but nobody objected to the idea either. The caucus hadn’t started yet, but I started looking through the information packet and trying to remember Robert‘s Rules.
As I was digging through all the paperwork, a voice came over the intercom saying if people wanted to just vote and go home they could do so. This seemed to be unanimously accepted as a good idea.
“Well,” I said, “ there are a couple of order’s of business here we could do. First we’ll need a secretary.” The guy sitting next to me said, “I’ll do it.” I said, “OK.”
At this point I had decided to dispense with Robert’s Rules as nobody else seemed to even be aware of them and I didn’t think I was capable of explaining them. I decided to follow Ron’s First Rule of Politics
1) When someone volunteers to do anything, anything at all, just go with it.
” If you’d like, you can sign up for the Central Committee.” I said.
As I was about to explain my previous experience with the committee, I looked up and saw four shaking heads indicating a unanimous “no” vote in the future. I dropped the subject.
“Alrighty then, moving on,” I said, “would anyone be interested in being a delegate to the county convention?”
The older gentleman, (older than me), spoke up.
“Does anything worthwhile happen at those things or is it just a lot-a hoo-haw?”
“Well,” I explained, “it’s a little of both. You get to vote on rules and procedures and the party platform. Y’know, all of these things are designed to give people a voice in how things go, what our party stands for, and who we are.”
“Harumph.” Said the older gentleman.
“There’s plenty of open spots, so all anyone has to do is sign up and you can be a delegate.” Nobody wanted to.
“OK, well, let’s just vote then.”
The secretary handed me the ballots he had previously collected and they all made a bee-line for the door. I managed to have the secretary sign a few things on his way out.
My day wasn’t quite over. When I got home I got on Twitter to see how it was all going. There was quite a lot about some lady reporter from the LA Times getting kicked out of a precinct meeting. “Good for them” I tweeted. That, as it turned out, was a minority opinion.
As the Twitter discussion continued, it became clear that some apparatchik had gone and invited the press in an effort to show “transparency.“
The caucus is supposed to be a meeting of the people. In an age when police drones are flying overhead and airport workers are inspecting us right down to our cupcakes, it’s not the people who need to show transparency. We’re already transparent.
A better idea might be to hand out information to each caucus participant so we can all start the meeting on the same page. We might also have someone address the entire assembly and explain the purpose of having a caucus. From what I can tell, most people don’t know. Without communication, politics becomes “just a lot-a hoo-haw.”