The story of Texas’ Democratic caucuses is far from over. The day after the Texas primaries I wrote of my own experiences and cross posted my story at The Reaction, DailyKos, and Texas Kaos.” A couple of fellow Texans were moved to share their very contrasting experiences at “precinct conventions,” as we call these gatherings. I want to follow up with their stories today. I quote their comments in full:
From my post at DailyKos, “elmo” called it a “great story,” and went on to tell her own not-so-great experiences. To quote:
The dynamic of our convention was not nearly so pleasant.
The party regulars (who were Clinton supporters) wanted their people as Chair and Secretary, and didn’t want to allow a vote on nominations. We decided to go ahead and let them take these positions but just watch things carefully. The seemed to resent the very idea that we “outsiders” should come and dare question their control.
There was a nasty interchange when the Secretary tried to exclude two people who had arrived after 7:15, but before the allocation calculations had started, from signing the roll. Finally, the Secretary relented and got a vote on allowing these two people to sign in. The room was crowded and noisy, and it turns out that another woman (an African American woman) was in the same situation as the other two people who had just been allowed to sign in, but hadn’t stepped forward because she couldn’t hear what was going on. Now, not more than a few minutes had elapsed since the Secretary’s resolution, and the allocation calculations hadn’t started, but the Secretary refused to let this third woman sign in! The other two people were white, as was the Secretary, so it just looked really bad. Fortunately, my husband is wonderful in these kind of situations: patient, calm, persistent and polite. He wore the Secretary down. The third woman was allowed to sign in.
The Clinton group (including the party regulars) was all white, mostly women, and all older. I’d say over 55, with some waaaaay over 55.
The Obama group was racially diverse, although predominately white, mixed about half women and half men. A handful were college age and a handful were over 55, most were in their 30’s and 40’s.
After my comment to “elmo” that “we’ve come a long way, but we are not there yet, are we? I think it is about both power wielding and discrimination, by people who want to be big fish in little puddles,” “elmo” continued with some clarification. To quote:
I think the motivation came from the idea that we were invading their turf, so to speak. I don’t think the hostility had much to do with the Clinton/Obama contest at all. And the racial thing, I don’t think that was the Secretary’s motivation, either. She just resented the idea that we were questioning her pronouncements as being absolute. Now, from the African American woman’s perspective, I think it would (and did) feel like a racial thing, and that’s why I was so happy she was able to sign in after all.
My husband and I are our both in our fifties, ourselves. I must say, though, the younger people coming up make me feel proud that we’re heading in the right direction.
At Texas Kaos, the “Texas cousin” of DailyKos, “jimmyjackearl” shared his story that turned out to be rather similar to my experience. To quote: Very similar to my caucus story….
I ended up talking to the precinct chair before the polls closed. She told me that the last presidential caucus drew a total of 5 democrats to the caucus. It became real clear that this one was going to be one for the record books. The line to get in wrapped around the building so there was no single place where she could address the group as a whole. Volunteers for the sign up process were quickly selected and a system was put into place to get people signing in and casting their votes. We had to adjust the system a couple of times to get the flow right and it took over an hour (after a late start) to finally get everybody signed in. At 8:00 the Republicans showed up for their caucus. There was no room left in the building so they caucused outside on a patio under a porch light. I was working the line outside at this time, informing people of what was going on inside and that even though the line wasn’t moving very fast it was in fact moving. I thought it was apprapos that the GOP should find themselves homeless, outside and huddled under a lamp in the face of spirited democracy and I couldn’t help myself in giving them a holler, “Yall take a good look, this is just the beginning!”
A lot more to the story. I struggled with this vote more than any other presidential vote I have cast. Not only could I easily vote for either of the two remaining candidates without holding my nose, there was actually a race to vote on.
I didn’t decide until last weekend. Our precinct had a total of 290 caucus votes and was allocated 30 delegates.
The final tally was 20 delegates Obama, 10 Clinton.
I am an Obama delegate.
To “jimmyjackearl’s” thoughts about the difficulty of deciding, I can completely relate. And I have not been able to articulate what went on within my “delicious dilemma” very well up to now. It has been a awful dilemma, in a way, because I cannot make it come out as a win/win. A vote for Senator Clinton denies Senator Obama’s chance of history making proportions. A vote for Senator Obama denies Senator Clinton the chance at an equally history making legacy. The way I decided was through some extensive visualizations of a variety of scenarios, in which Senator Obama came out looking as if he could be a healer of our very broken body politic. It was the best I could do, under the circumstances.
Salon’s Lynn Harris was able to say it more perfectly for me: “Women and Clinton: Damned if they vote, damned if they don’t?” To quote from her 3/4/08 essay:
And so we wait. And blog. And wait. Will today’s primary votes make or break the possibility of a second Clinton presidency? And if they break it, whose fault will that be?
. . . This election, people, is not about women vs. women, or feminists vs. feminists, of whatever school. (Some NOW chapters endorsed Clinton, some Obama. Steinem and Pollitt split their votes. There you go. Plenty of room.) There are plenty of excellent reasons to vote for either Democratic candidate, few of which need be informed by race or gender in the first place. How refreshing that, as far as the prevailing sense goes, we have choices to be so passionate about (choices to be passionate “for,” not “against”).
. . . Articles that overstate or underexamine “division” among women (and blacks, too, in this context) — even with feminist intentions — serve only to exacerbate it. Or the perception of it. Which, at some level, is the same.
Cross posted at The Reaction