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11 Reasons Why The Rest of the Country Should Switch to Caucuses

There’s been lots of hemming and hawing in the media about the caucuses. I suspect a lot of that comes from people who have not taken the time to learn the process. After campaigning in a dozen or so states over the last two election cycles and seeing the different ways caucuses are run, I’ve concluded that concerned voters should want a caucus. Here’s why:

1. Caucuses are Fun
Seriously – Roberts Rules of order. Tricks. Intrigue. What could be more fun than that? For two hours every four years, we, the average voters have a really meaningful excuse to behave like someone out of West Wing.

2. Caucuses are Transparent
In Chicago, you vote in the primaries and there’s no guarantee that anyone will ever count your ballot. It will be machine counted. A machine miscount, therefore, will not be caught. In contrast, in a caucus state...

it's often enough for just one voter to stand and demand that votes be counted out in the open.

If I stood in a polling place in Chicago and demanded an open count, I’d get the cops called on me and end up in the hoosegow.

A bunch of people complain that caucuses are vulnerable to election fraud. They are. But the people who complain about that are likely the people who didn’t show up to their caucus prepared. Caucuses can only be stolen if someone allows them to be stolen. This transitions nicely into my next point.

3. Caucuses Remind Us About Responsibility
Whose fault is it when you spill a glass of milk that you’re pouring? Is it the milk company that designed a milk container improperly? Is it the person who turned the fridge down so low that your hands can barely stand to hold the ice-cold milk? Is it the person who has yet to fix the wobbly kitchen table? Is it the fault of the person who walked into the kitchen and scared you when he said “Hi.”?

Nope. When you spill a glass of milk, it’s your fault. You’re an adult.

Whose fault is it when you get barred from a caucus, when the ballots don’t get counted in front of you, or when the Romney supporters get to speak three times as long as the other voters? Well, the fault is yours.

There is no “last judgment” at a caucus. There is no “day in court.” There is no opportunity later to get even, to right the wrongs. Judgment takes place in real-time and the winner is the one who comes prepared to win the fights of the day and asserts himself. If you lose in a caucus environment it’s your fault – you came unprepared. If you win in a caucus environment – Congratulations!! I’ll treat you to a beer the next time you and I meet.

4. Caucuses Remind Us that the People Are the Ultimate Check on Corruption
Our government causes whatever mischief we allow. When generations of Americans don’t guard their rights jealously, we end up with a government like we have today. The caucus process stokes the sense of justice in a person and reminds a voter of the joy of competition and victory. The caucus is tee ball. It gets us excited to take on bigger challenges and to force ourselves into tougher leagues.

5. Caucuses are Informal
In 2004, I observed the Russian presidential elections. Fascinating process. Russia has the best election law that I have ever seen. The law is so meticulously written in order to ensure that elections are aboveboard. The problem with that was – 1. No one knew the laws, least of all the election officials, and 2. Voters didn’t feel empowered and therefore weren’t involved in seeing to it that the laws were followed. What I saw take place in numerous polling places on election day was so horrific that I ended up filing a lengthy petition of complaint with the oblast’s election officials.

In an American caucus however, you can have a chairman in the front of the room pulling all kinds of shenanigans, while the voters opt to sit back in their chairs staring at the walls. Or you can have the voters in the face of the chairman making sure a standard of propriety is followed.

What is that standard of propriety? Well, that standard is what the people in the room agree to and convince others to stand in favor of. Sure, there are a bunch of rules and in some states there are laws concerning the caucus process. However, none of that matters.

Caucuses are a meeting. Neighbors meet with neighbors. One of them leads the meeting. Since a caucus is so informal, it matters what the people present decide is right, not what some lawyer, judge, and jury three months later decide.

6. Caucuses Make the Voter Live in the Here and Now – There Are No Reinforcements
In 2000, our president was chosen by the Supremes. What a mess. It’s an example of how we have learned to be passive in our approach to our government. It was an election decided long after election day. Other than the once-a-year need to swerve out of the way of a dangerous car accident, most of us aren’t really called to step up and do anything that urgently matters.

Caucusing, however, is a different story – you have the moment to stand up for yourself and what you believe is just. Once the meeting has come to an end, business is done and your chance to affect the vote is over.

7. There are No Reinforcements!
There are lots of situations in life where something so unjust and crazy is happening that a person can’t believe it’s happening. He just stands there, shocked that no one is helping him. Usually, that person will either long regret that he did not stand up for himself or he will long criticize the world for not protecting him. The caucus is always that kind of moment. There are no reinforcements that will ride to your rescue.

8. Organizing Against Election Fraud is Easy
How many precincts are there in your state? Let’s say 1,000. Well, then 1,000 committed activists is what you’ll need to ensure the accuracy of the vote count.

If someone really cared about the legitimacy of the vote, it would follow that he would see to it that the votes from his precinct were counted properly. It’s naïve to assume that power won’t be abused by someone else simply because you think it shouldn’t be.

If widespread election fraud is a concern, it would follow that a voter would organize other concerned citizens to monitor the vote. This is easy to do in the decentralized environment of the caucus because no centralized authority looking to steal the vote can pull it off when a committed group is checking the accuracy of the vote.

9. Caucuses Remove the Insiders from the Process
The Democrats have superdelegates (a way of telling Democratic voters openly “You don’t really matter as much as you think you do.”) and state parties allow for the equivalent of Republican “superdelegates” to varying degrees. Still, largely, the caucus is a way that committed activists can have a tremendous amount of influence over the process and even take over the party.

10. Few People Show Up
Anyone who direly cares about the outcome of the 2012 election should be grateful to live in a caucus state. I’ve learned over my years of helping candidates get elected that it’s best to judge people based on their actions and not their words. If someone can’t get up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday and clear his schedule until 10 a.m. then that person doesn’t really care that much about the candidate he professes to care about.

There are arguments about religious exemptions, work requirements, and family requirements that are all valid. The fact of the matter remains – the caucus weeds out the people who don’t care that much. They are a segment of that flabby mass of people that seem to vote because they have nothing better to do, or because they’ve been convinced that their uninformed vote is part of their civic duty.

11. No Lawyers!!
At a caucus you don’t need a lawyer and if you don’t have a lawyer there ready to help you or ready to answer questions on speed dial, it won’t do you any good. You are your own lawyer. You represent yourself, you stand up for yourself and assert your own rights. The ACLU, Justice Department, or Bill of Rights will not help you win an argument at a caucus. It’s you or no one. It’s now or never.

Allan Stevo is a writer from Chicago, author of the recently released How to Win America for Ron Paul and the Cause of Freedom in 2012, which talks about ways to give increased, focused, effective support to Ron Paul. It talks about ways to win America for Ron Paul TODAY. Buy it at Amazon in print or as a Kindle
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no

Caucuses began being phased out in '76 because there was too much 'bossism' taking place and allowing the establishment of the party to control the election.

If they control the rules, the "credentials" process, and the counting of votes then they can control the outcome.

If the votes are taken in a small room of people on a local level then it's much easier to wield influence over and exclude certain voters.

No

The primary is much easier to game with diebold voting machines, the bossism problem is alive and well the establishment of the parties control the election it's just harder to see which makes it more dangerous.

If you live in a caucus state the beauty is that YOU can control the rules, the credentials process, and the counting of the votes and make sure they are transparent and fair. You can make sure the votes are counted in the open, it is much easier to wield influence in a caucus vote than a primary vote (if you live in a primary state you pretty much have practically zero influence in how the votes are counted but the establishment has big money they can use to lobby for electronic voting machines etc.). In addition you can be the final check by being a delegate. If you think voting on certified corruptible diebold machines with no accountability is better than taking responsibility for your precinct and becoming a delegate to your local convention I think you are naive.

I think they are also less expensive to put on.

I'm in Michigan and I think I read that it cost 10,000,000 to put on our primary and that there was a failed attempt to change to a caucus system to save this expense.

hthomas

Caucuses are also less corruptible

Notice in caucus states Dr. Paul usually finishes a close second or third but in primaries and places with electronic voting he's often a distance third or fourth. There are still ways in smudging the vote count (like "'misplacing" 8 precincts' voted) but still caucuses are like the writer said, more transparent and involves more participation.

The reason we hear about voter count issues in caucuses

Is because it is easier to prove, primaries have little to no accountability or verifiability.

Yes to Caucuses! Prefer Precinct level caucuses

I really appreciate everything you say in this post, and whole-heartedly agree. Unless you live in one of the New England states and participate in Town Halls, Caucuses are the closest thing we have to a real democratic republic culture. I would love to see more caucuses, which really means a shift in culture back to local grass-roots control and actual face-to-face debate by the people for the people -- very American! I can't think of a better way to improve the level of engagement of common people in self-government.

One thing I would add, is caucuses at the precinct level. A county-wide caucus, township or whatever, where you have hundreds or even thousands potentially coming, seems overwhelming and too hard to have real dialog.

I have participated in 3 presidential caucuses, will do my 4th soon. I have also lived under a "Presidential Preference" primary. I prefer the caucuses. And yes, they really are fun! Even when there have been shenanigans and railroading, they are exciting and give you lots to talk about later, they are a learning experience. Plus you can even get to know your State representatives and political committee people personally. So I say yes to Caucuses!

Mr. Stevo, are you nuts or just dishonest?

No one not nuts or dishonest chooses to embrace the major party caucus system.

You found it and loved it?

Now you want to do it all over again, why? Because Ron Paul does better in a caucus due to having more fired up supporters?

That's bending things to your own favor...you'll go far in politics son.

Finding the system as it is and embracing it tells a woeful tale.

You choose more of the same.

You could choose to try and erase the subsidies granted the 2 major parties who loot the taxpayers to support their primaries, conventions and all the perks granted the legislators and other officers they install...but no, that's of no matter to you, you are having too much fun playing in their dirty sandbox.

You need to ask yourself, if you are capable of the self-reflection, what it is you are trying to achieve.

Is it liberty or do you just want to get greased, to get down with the big boys and loot the rest of us?

No one welcomes the dirt and criminality of the major parties except another crook.

Ron Paul: Government Is a Reflection of the People

Anyone who believes there is corruption at the highest levels of government and attends a caucus will discover the training ground.

Too complicated

I'm not a fan of the lawyer necessitated complex electoral systems.

I really think the whole thing should be simplified. I appreciate that costs in campaigning and advertising make it difficult to hold the elections on a single day, but that's how the general election is held. The nominee selection should reflect the challenge of the general election. Either hold all the elections on a single day, or spread them out over a month. Maybe 6 weeks, not 6 months.

Toss out the primaries and caucuses, delegates are a waste of time. I appreciate the convention is a proud tradition, but the delegate counting has been a dog and pony show for far too long. You can have a convention without the meaningless "The salty state of Maine, finest of Canadian latitudinal states, lobsters and biscuits, declares its votes for Republican Candidate!

Make the votes per state proportional to the electoral college, or reduce the number for states that don't matter (like my horrible home state of California that will never vote for a Republican). The votes should probably given out proportionally rather than winner take all.

And that's it. All the elections over several weeks, whoever has the most votes balanced by states wins. Nothing stopping people from campaigning ahead of the elections, but none of this whole "momentum" nonsense. These insanely complicated wishy washy rules, these state by state variations, election process being dragged out across the better portion of 2 years, all if it is a waste of time and money. Triple down on monitoring for voter fraud and accountability and you're set.

A caucus is opaque as granite

A caucus is opaque as granite if those running it refuse to follow the rules of order.

Caucuses are NOT fun, and I will likely never attend another

It took 4 hours to vote, MANY supporters had to work and could not vote. My husband was up until midnight and back at work at 5 this morning - he will NEVER do that again. And unless Ron Paul runs again in 2016, I just will never put myself through that again. We sat there and endured hour after hour of obnoxious warmongering music, smiled and played nice with people who are brain dead only to have them be insulting and rude back (not all but MANY of them act like slim jims have cooties.)
It was TORTURE and I left feeling UTTERLY disenfranchised by my party and my state. For him to start off with "Caucuses are FUN" about made me puke. Listen, kid, I have some bamboo shoots I can run under your fingernails if you want to have a REALLY god time.

This is the article that got my posting privileges revoked:
http://bklim.newsvine.com/_news/2013/05/12/18212165-dr-stan-...

Welcome to Ron Paul's life!

Fishyculture: Think for a minute about Ron Paul, and how he has been working in the similar culture of "rude" "obnoxious warmongering" "brain dead" people that is Congress, and yet rather than puking, he has chosen to be a shining example of principle, peace, and graciousness. If nothing else, appreciate the strength of character he has! "It's easy to be Buddha on a mountain top" as they say.

That's very true

fishyculture,

But then, you are a sane person.

No one not desperate and in their right mind chooses to caucus.

Primaries are not all that great either, coming as they do at the expense of the taxpayers.

You were willing to debase yourself for an evening (and go thru all the work and inanity beforehand) because you believe in a candidate enough, he asked you and you responded.

No need to make that criminal inanity a lifestyle.

There is no reason to apologize for not wanting to wallow in the gutter for the rest of your days.

Who the hell welcomes and wants more of that criminal thing called the major party caucus?

The reason the GOP has caucuses is because...

it's a way of suckering people into thinking that they have an input in changing government. That way the Party can get your name, your volunteer work, and money. However, that platform that you spend so much time hammering out, winds up in the circular file and the politicians never bother to read it. If they don't agree with the platform they ignore it and feel no compulsion to honor it.

I can remember, in 1980, my congressman was on the National Platform Committe in Detroit. He couldn't even get a copy of the MN state platform because the Party hacks at the top never even bothered to assemble it and type it up.

The caucus system is one that allows a dedicated minority the means to out do an undisciplined majority at the convention levels. But all to often the losers run against the convention winners in primaries and completely upset the caucus system. So why even bother with the caucuses and conventions? Let's just get to the nitty gritty as soon as possible with a straight primary system and let the chips fall where they may.

Give the people what they want. We have an ignorant electorate, and the only way they are going to smarten up is if things get bad enough that they start to experience real pain.

Minnesota Mary