So That’s What A Caucus Is – No Thanks!
LEE’S SUMMIT, MARCH 27, 2012 – Last Saturday I spent 6 hours at the GOP Caucus in Lee’s Summit and to be honest I was disappointed at the entire event. I’ve not blogged about it because I wanted to have my thoughts straight.
I arrived at 9:30 AM to the Lee’s Summit High School facility where the GOP Caucus was to be held. I finally found a parking space and made a mental note: Next time arrive earlier. When I got to the line a gentleman came up to me and said, “Sir, I’m sorry to tell you that the facility will only hold 1,000 people, and (pointing to someone about 20 yards ahead of me) that lady with the red purse is roughly the one thousandth person.” I thanked him for his information and continued to stand in line.
I looked around and noticed that there were a lot of campaign signs all over the place, but mostly for Romney and Ron Paul. There were a few Gingrich signs, and very few Santorum signs in the area.
At 10:00 AM an announcement was made that no others would be allowed on the line. This seemed odd, but it clearly stated that you had to be there by 10:00 AM and since this was my first caucus ever I just made a mental note: Arrive early!
We finally got indoors, checked in, our hands stamped with either a 5 [for the 5th district] or a 6 [for the 6th district]. I thought it made sense since the new map has both congressional districts running through Jackson County.
I got into the auditorium and it was packed. I walked down to the front and talked for a moment with Missouri Senator Will Kraus of MO’s 8th district, and then made my quick round to shake hands with Representative Gary Cross of MO’s 48th House District. Then I found a seat.
I was fortunate; I sat next to a Government Teacher from Lee’s Summit North who, like myself, had never been to a Caucus before. His knowledge of the constitution, Robert’s Rules of Order and the general process made it very interesting to discuss what was happening.
The first order of business was to elect the Caucus Chairperson. We had two candidates and we had our first vote. That was an interesting process. All who wanted to vote for candidate A had to stand up. A group of people were selected to count and they came up row by row. At the end of the count our section had 4 people counting and 4 different results – we counted again and this time it was agreed to the count on a row by row basis. I won’t go into this process for the rest of the votes, but note we were there till 4:00 PM and voting was the main objective – or so I thought.
We had a short recess after we elected the chairman, and he appointed some committees (Rules and Platform), and some positions on the board. Then we had to elect the Secretary – this took also a long time.
Once we elected the secretary we had to approve the rules. This was a great debate because of two clauses in the rules: 1) winner take all, and 2) the 5th and 6th would vote together. This did not make sense. The 5th had over 800 people there, and the 6th had less than 200 people for a total of 1,012 people in the caucus. The point was made by several speakers that the report to the State Convention would be done by Congressional District, but that with the vast majority of people voting from the 5th district the 6th would be truly disenfranchised. To prove the point, the vote was taken and the over 800 people outvoted the under 200 and the two districts would vote as one – unbelievable!
The other discussion was about the Winner Take All but they kept talking about the SLATE. What is a slate I wondered?
We then had a few more procedural votes and finally we got to the nomination of the slate: finally I would figure out what the slate was and how it was put together.
Well the first slate to be nominated and seconded was the “Beat Obama” slate. It was made up of 144 representatives, with phone numbers, addresses and some sort of validation that I did not understand. There was a second slate for Ron Paul but it was withdrawn because it did not have the 144 members and phone numbers and addresses.
That’s when it hit me.
This is all pre-set. No one in the room would have time to collect 144 names, numbers, addresses and vet them so the “slates” were pre-set.
The Gingrich and Santorum group presented their slate as the only other approved slate. Each group was given time to present their slate and how the delegates would be assigned.
WAIT ONE MINUTE!!!
What did I just write? I vote for a slate that has a preordained number of delegates? The Beat Obama slate has Ron Paul getting over 100 delegates, Romney getting the rest, some for the 5th, some for the 6th, Santorum who won the primary with over 54% of the vote gets none and that’s the same for Gingrich?
I sat there, stunned!
I’m neither a Romney nor a Paul supporter. What option do I have? Stand up for the Ayes, or of the Nays and that’s it.
That’s when it all hit me; like a ton of Florida Chads (not sure if dimpled, hanging or otherwise). The game at a caucus can – and in fact was – rigged. Think about it: Only 1000 peoples to represent Jackson County. Candidates, who understand the system, get their people in the front of the line. Romney and Paul get the largest turnout. Watching the people from the Ron Paul Campaign during the votes stand up with Green or Red on a clipboard: they are the whips! They tell their supporters what to vote for and what not to vote for. The same was true for the Romney campaign.
So, the lesson was that Santorum while he can communicate effectively has very little ground effort and got outplayed in Jackson County. A deal between Romney and Paul was struck early and the slate set up and the outcome was preordained.
The only issue that was up for grabs was the Winner Take All, which was settled by the majority (the Romney and Paul supporters in the 5th District) and to top it off, they had to be able to assign the 6th districts delegates too (at least the ones from Jackson County) so they had the rule voted on and since the 6th was so vastly outnumbered, they had to swallow the bitter pill.
If you’ve read my Blog or my columns you know I’m primarily a Fiscal Conservative. I think this country spends too much money and Government has too far of a reach and should be held in check by simple fiscal means.
I find myself voting and supporting the Republican Party because in most cases I agree with what the GOP is trying to accomplish; yet after this event I learned a bitter lesson.
The GOP caucus was a lesson in preordained elections that harken back to old Chicago, old Kansas City, Buenos Aires when I was a child, and my suspicions of how elections are done in many 3rd world countries where backroom deals drive politics.
If we, the citizens of the United States of America are not willing to stand up for our voting rights (the right to vote for the person WE as individuals decide to vote for) then we truly deserve what we get. Yet I don’t believe that is what American’s want or will stand for.
Write to Senator Kraus, let him know you are not happy with the fact that we had a popularity contest for the Primary, and a preordained Caucus to replace it. Next time, we want a primary that counts so our voices are clearly expressed in how we vote.
Write to Representative Cross, and let him know that you take your vote very seriously and don’t like to have 1,000 of your fellow citizens speak for you: let him know you want a primary that counts next time.
These two representatives of the people tried to get things done right; they were simply outvoted.
Write to the Governor and express your complete dissatisfaction with the way the 2012 elections were held in the State of Missouri, and his Veto of moving the primary back disenfranchised you as a voting citizen of Missouri and you won’t forget it when it comes time to pull the lever on his election.
It is entirely up to us, to ensure that our votes count.
It is entirely up to us, to express our disapproval of a bad process.
It is entirely up to us, to make sure our elected officials don’t forget that We The People, still means something in these United States.
It is entirely up to us, to determine if we are sheep who go along to get along, or if we’re citizens with the rights fought and gained for us by our forefathers who will pass forward those rights unblemished by political and personal expediency and apathy.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative