Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Does anyone know the Texas Two-Step?

Last night my dad and I went to the Democrat precinct caucus. It was supposed to start at 7:15. We got there just before seven, and got in line. There were probably a hundred people in front of us, and the line grew rapidly.

We discovered that the precinct chairman was in line next to us. He had two sign-in sheets, enough to handle 40 people, and I would guess that by 7:30 there were ten times that many people there.

No one knew who was supposed to be in charge, and the precinct chairman was just standing there in line, so we all just stood there until eight o'clock. Finally someone took charge and sent the precinct chairman running around looking for a copy machine to make more sign-in sheets.

Someone from the Obama campaign was handing out little “Obama” stickers to stick on your shirt. She ran out just before she got to us in line, but she had a few buttons, which are much nicer than a throw-away sticker, so I got one of those, which I will treasure forever.

They set up one table for precinct 1349 and another for 1119. It turns out that not a single person was from precinct 1349, so they started signing people in one at a time, while the second table sat idle. Finally someone had the bright idea to use both sign-in tables, and that made things go slightly faster.

I signed in and indicated that I was supporting B. Hussein Obama, just as I had done in the primary. My dad and I sat in the front row of the church.

When the sanctuary was mostly filled up, someone came in and said "Obama supporters on the right, Hillary supporters on the left." Well, they can't BOTH be on the left, so what does it matter? We got up and moved, along with almost everyone else on Hillary's side. Soon Obama's side was standing room only, and Hillary's side was mostly empty. It did look like Hillary did well among her core constituency: angry women over the age of 45 who wear combat boots.

Then someone else came in and yelled out "Obama supporters on the left, Hillary supporters on the right." A bunch of people started moving, and others yelled out that it was the other way around, and pandemonium broke out. The seats in the sanctuary were divided up into six sections, and eventually someone asked the Hillary people to move into the two sections on the left, to give Obama people four sections. Well, they were not at all happy with that request.

It was past nine o’clock by the time everyone was signed in. The temporary chairman called for nominations for caucus chairman, and people started yelling out names. After several names had been called out, someone suggested that maybe the nominees stand up and their name be recorded. We ended up with three nominees, including the precinct chairman who had been next to us in line with 2 sign-in sheets.

My dad asked if I wanted to be nominated for chairman. I started to plan out my nomination speech. I would talk about how we want change and we are sick of the Clinton duo and their corruption, sick of Monica Lewinski and cigars and perjury, sick of Clinton voting for the war and then claiming to oppose it, sick of Whitewater and Vince Foster and bimbo eruptions, sick of double-talk about driver's licenses for illegal aliens or about NAFTA (oops, that was Obama). Then I would promise Obama supporters that if they elected me I would take Clinton's delegates and redistribute them more fairly to Obama. But then I decided that I wanted to walk out of the room alive, so I declined.

The lady who had taken charge (it turns out she was not an election official, just someone who saw the need and stepped up) started to tally the votes. She said that it had to be a voice count, so she told us to number off if we were supporting the first candidate for caucus chairman. She started working down the aisle of the first of six sections, pointing at each person. If they wanted to vote for that candidate, they would call out the next number. Counting is a difficult concept for many liberals, so this resulted in a lot of confusion.

It immediately occurred to both me and my dad that they could tally each of the six sections in parallel and save a lot of time, but that involves addition which is even harder than counting.

It took ten minutes to tally the votes for one candidate from one of the six sections of seats, and there are still five sections to go, and two more candidates, and then we needed to elect a secretary. And don’t forget 39 delegates and 39 alternates. It started to look like a long night.

When they had finished tallying the vote for the first candidate for chairman, it was clear that he had more than half of the vote, but they still tallied votes for the other two nominees. You know, you’ve got to count every vote.

So eventually we got a chairman, but it quickly became apparent that he had no idea how to run a caucus. He called for nominations for secretary, and the lady who had spent the last half hour electing a chairman was nominated unanimously. What a relief.

Suddenly, they realized that it was important to actually tally the Obama and Clinton supporters on the sign-in sheets. They might have had someone doing that while people were signing in and we were electing a chairman, but that idea had not crossed their mind. So they had a Clinton representative and an Obama representative tally each sheet, and after a lot of very difficult mathematics and a couple of calls to the Democrat Party Headquarters, they had a tally.

The chairman was standing over by us, so we asked him how we would go about selecting the delegates. He said “they are trying to figure out how to apportion the delegates, but it takes a mathematician to figure it out.” They should have asked if there were any Republicans in the room. Proportions are even harder than adding.

While the math geniuses were hard at work on that problem, my dad and I decided to facilitate the delegate selection process. We walked around and asked who wanted to be a delegate, and then made sure that someone would nominate them – usually the person sitting next to them.

The chairman stood up and announced the results. Obama 84%, Clinton 24%. Sounds like the math was done by the same people who think Gore won Florida in 2000.

Eventually they sent the Obama supporters to pick 33 delegates and the Hillary supporters to pick 6 delegates. The Hillary people thought that was completely unfair. We quickly had 25 people nominated, and after some convincing got up to 33. With a unanimous up or down vote we approved those 33 people to be delegates, and we were done.

And these are the folks who want to run the country.


Dave said...

I'm Don's dad and was with him at the caucus. Everything he says is true.

todd said...

That's hilarious. Thanks for taking one for the team and going to that thing. I was too scared and confused. Sounds like I would have fit in!

David H said...

Your Obama button should be just as valuable as say, a Walter Mondale button was in 1985. Now that Obama's church minister (Jeremiah Wright) came out with his lunatic hate-America racist speech, Barak is going to need to pull out his tap-dancing shoes...