Essayist urges attendance at caucuses
It's Groundhog Day, and in Pennsylvania, and Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, which means he forsees six more weeks of winter. Well, if your winter has settled into a dull, drab routine, our Morning Edition essayist Peter Smith says snap out of it, because tonight you've got a big event to go to, and it's right down the block.
Smith: It's February 2nd. Its cold, and yucky from one end of Minnesota to the other. But it's a great day in Minnesota anyhow. One of the best days of the year. Or should I say the biennium?
Because tonight after supper, all over Minnesota, people will get up from the table, do the dishes, then put on their coats and hats, and troop down the block to schools, libraries, and church basement community rooms to their precinct caucus-the biggest little show in town.
There's so much to see and do at your caucus, all of it playing out according to the caucus agenda and rules. You nominate him. You nominate her. Make a motion or two. Vote for this. Vote for that. Nominate-nominate. Move-move. Vote-vote-vote-vote.
Then the people running the caucus look at the rules and agenda again and decide they didn't do it right, So you nominate, move, and vote all over again.
There are characters as old as American democracy itself. I especially like the indignant ones-people who take the floor, hitch up their pants, and launch into tirades about everything from dog walking ordinances to the Federal deficit.
Whatever's got their long johns in a twist, they're hot. This is serious and the caucus is a free shot at the people in power.
Up front, the party people bow their heads and take the heat philosophically. Caucuses don't come along that often, and tomorrow morning whoever-this-guy-doing-the-ranting-is will go to work feeling good. Next fall, he'll vote the right way.
At some point, a real candidate for something slips into the room. Someone running for State Representative. Or State Senator. Someone cruising for an endorsement. There'll be some smiling, pointing and nodding. They'll make a little speech and move on. There'll be more nominations, motions and voting.
Around nine, the people who work in the morning will start looking at their watches and yawning. They'll start slipping out the side door, and, not too long after that, you'll probably sneak out yourself. Me too.
On the way down the hall, when I pass one of those portraits of Lincoln and Washington, I'll give the old guys a "thumbs up" and maybe a wink. I'll tell them I can't vouch for the state of the entire union, but at least things in my precinct seem to be pretty good.
- Morning Edition, 02/02/2010, 7:40 a.m.