43rd Caucus Musings

OK, so it’s nearly a week after the 43rd District Democrats’ Caucus, and I only stayed through the alternate seating process.  I don’t have a lot to report back, but both a friend’s experience caucusing and an article in this week’s The Stranger give me a few more thoughts on the process.

It was a nice day, so I walked (misjudging the time)  and I arrived just a little before the 10 am sign in deadline at the old Lincoln High School in the Wallingford neighborhood.  Lincoln is currently filling in for Garfield High during their re-construction, hence the Bulldog signs in the gym.  In the gym was where I spent most of my time, first standing in line to sign in (as an Obama alternate), then hanging out in the crowded bleachers waiting to see if I would be needed.  The gym was packed, with a lot of hopefuls standing in another line as well, this one in hopes of being delegates to the next level (as it turned out, you didn’t need to be a delegate or even an alternate for that).

Actually, I didn’t hang out on the bleachers most of the time, instead wandering around and taking pictures.  We had speakers while waiting – including State Senator Ed Murray, several judicial candidates, and US Rep. Jim McDermott (although a kid on Heely shoes stole the show, sometimes zipping around the talking politicians). 

We waited until they checked all the sign in sheets, then went over to another packed room where the actual delegates were crowded into to verify, finally reading off the names of the needed alternates.  I wasn’t needed, and while I could have stayed and just watched all afternoon (without having a vote), I decided to go home (maybe going to the County Convention, where alternates do have a vote, in about a week).

So, I heard from one of my friends who went through the process, as an Obama delegate, in another Seattle district.  She stayed through a very long day of listening to next level candidate after next level candidate, lasting long past the time allocated.  Admittedly, it had to have been more of a mess this time.  I forget which year I went through the whole process (I would have been either a Bradley or Kucinich delegate), but I seem to recall the only difficulty was getting enough volunteers for the next level.  This year everyone wants to go (well, a slight exaggeration), preferably all the way to the Democratic Convention in Denver

All this will need to be done over again, to select delegates for the next level at the next level.  My friend, quite reasonably, asked, “Isn’t there a better way to do this?”  While the political insiders love this process, even most of us who are willing to go through it find it maddening (and don’t hold me to the County Convention, come to think of it, I remember last time. . .)  Of course, only a small percentage of Democrats go to the caucuses to begin with (even with this time’s unprecedented draw), compared to those who would have voted.

Back to the 43rd District Caucus.  After all our current public officials and candidates spoke, someone breathlessly announced there was one more speaker, they had a special treat for us  Barack?  Hillary? No, Sean Astin, stumping for Hillary

If you’re like me (and most of the 43rd was), the response was “Who?”  He had to resort to telling us he’s Patty Duke’s son (which cleared up the mystery for some of us old enough, err barely old enough in my case , but probably not for the younger delegates).  Sean Astin, it turns out, is an actor himself, and was in The Lord of the Rings movies and on the tv show, 24.  Wait, isn’t that one of the shows advocating torture I blogged about in my Trekkies Against Torture post (to be fair, I still haven’t watched it)?

I was amused at the time, that Hillary would send along a tv star to a grassroots caucus, thinking he would impress anyone.  Especially in Seattle, where, as far as most of us were concerned, McDermott was the only possible celebrity we saw that day (and only because he’s had enough courage to speak out against the war, from the very beginning).  During his speech to the alternates, Astin made the usual unity bid, that while he supported Hillary, if Barack Obama was nominated he would, of course, support him (to which we all cheered, Obama supporters outnumbering Clinton’s at least 2 to 1 in the 43rd).

At least, that’s all I remember him saying.  According to article in The Stranger, during the next level delegate nomination process, after I left, Astin said a little more:

Astin’s speech was most memorable for this line: “Should Obama get the nomination, I will become a massive Barack Hussein Obama supporter.”

Hussein? Eyebrows shot up. Brows furrowed. Heads turned. A friend in the audience texted me: “Hussein!?” I’m not sure what Astin was up to with that line, but someone probably should have told him that Seattle’s 43rd District is the last place in the U.S. where subliminal messaging around Obama’s middle name is likely to move Democrats toward Clinton.

Hillary chooses as her spokesman someone who uses the neo-con trick of emphasizing Barack’s middle name?!!

That about says it all. 

Hillary keeps making it harder and harder to go with this party unity thing (and the only thing she’s got going for her there is I don’t want McCain, who is going to give us even more of the same than she will).

I may not go Green, but I don’t think I’ll be able to fake the smile if Hillary manages to get the nomination by shady, if legal, means and we’re stuck with yet another Republican-lite Democratic candidate.

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