Sometimes an egg sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.
I’m sitting here late on Thursday putting to bed another Big Week and trying to wring words from an overly stimulated mind.
On Tuesday I attended my first DFL caucus. An event for the purpose of choosing delegates in our ward to go to the DFL convention, at which those delegates vote to gift one candidate the joy of being ‘DFL endorsed’. As far as I can tell, the caucus is all about squeezing more of your supporters onto the register than those of the opponents. And that then the convention is all about gaming the rules in your candidates favor.
I was told by friends it would be like the floor of the stock exchange, a chaotic and crazy sortie of sorts. Believers trying to sway the non-committed, and then defend the swayed ranks. Now, I’ve only seen the stock exchange portrayed in movies and television, but if that’s anything like real life, I can only say, “wow”. Yep. Crazy, chaos.
We gathered in a school cafeteria that had been christened ‘caucus’ as separate from the rest of the building. As far as I can tell, this was for the purposes of containing the crazy and keeping candidates from papering the hallways with signage. It didn’t entirely work.
The first portion of the evening was a little like a cocktail hour only with people tipsy on excitement and the promise of power. Candidates for city council and school board worked the room while their be-buttoned families, friends and neighbors vied for the attention of anyone not significantly branded likewise. Thankfully, we were soon called to order.
The ward in this story is divided into 13 precincts. Each precinct was assigned a table. Some, like mine, spread out over multiple tables. From the DFL chairman’s introduction, I gathered that this was an unexpectedly large turnout and he seemed grateful and impressed by the political interest.
I sat at my table with other would-be delegates. I became puzzled as I noticed, by lapel buttons, that some were also soon-to-be adversaries. I had no idea where to start with my small talk. I focused on asking about the process ahead of us, but realized even those conversations were guarded and seemed hollow passages of time. What little I knew about it was that after the candidates’ speeches we’d be expected to huddle by precinct and produce delegates. The how remained a mystery.
Five candidates for city council and two for school board stood up and, each, gave a two minute stump speech. The first one up was reading from notes; delivering in her nasal drawl the status quo, only better. Another fellow was was so nervous he paced up and back as he recited his speech in a rhetorical format of answering his own questions. I clapped for each of them, appreciating their courage in vying for our attention but judging them not entirely fit for the challenges of office. ‘Minnesota nice’ in action.
Anyway, let’s forward to the good part. Speeches are over and our group, of about 60 or so, file out into the hallway so we can holler at each other without having to holler over other precincts. And that’s what we did. We broke ourselves into groups based on candidate bias and did a lot of loud and harried bartering.
Well, actually, before the disperse-ment there was the overall arguing about how to produce the delegates because no one entirely knew the rules we’d just voted on accepting. And those that did know something weren’t entirely trusted by those of opposing interests. Then there were the folks who just wanted proceedings to run their way whether or not it was right. An adviser was sent for but upon arrival he quietly stood on the sidelines while the argument ensued. He waited for a couple minutes, unnoticed, then swiftly left without attempt to intervene.
Abandoned to our own devices, the flurry of tantrum became havoc of trading and exchanges between smaller groups as the one larger group surveyed confidently on. Soon, given our allotment to fill, we were confined to make a decision of delegates and alternates.
I can safely say that, while still fairly polite, I must no longer be all that shy. Somehow in the fervor I persuaded two uncommitted women to join our ranks and was voted a delegate.
And that’s not even the big news, but that will have to wait until next post.
Title borrowed from the Whole Earth Catalog.