Barack Obama should be proud of March 4, 2008. Texas has made Martin Luther King, Jr. smile this week when thousands – millions – went to the polls to vote for a candidate who most embodies the dream of King — the candidate who best represents the closest thing to a third party candidate — a party of the people.
Obama has won more net delegates thus far; the counts vary. And all delegates in Texas are not counted yet. My precinct alone has seven delegates to add to his count on March 29, compared to six for Clinton's side. In fact, Obama could win the most Texas delegates, but first we all had to survive caucus chaos night. It's all over but the voting.
Predicting a record voter turnout for the primary, a local news source reported, "Thanks to the excitement surrounding the Texas primary, election workers expect to see a huge turnout in early voting, which will have a big effect on state and local races as well."
The Dogs of Mississippi
That’s the good news. The Texas two-step was like the dogs and fire hoses of Mississippi set upon black Americans who sought civil rights including the right to vote. Tuesday night’s caucus complaints were endless but much of it due to the surfeit of voters and caucus-goers, over a million. No wonder caucus sheets were in short supply.
It seemed like a lifetime since I went to the rally, voted, and wrote about it. I've been too busy with test preparation and since today was TAKS day for kids across Texas I had to get to school early. Other teachers were seeking me at the doorway because I now have a reputation as being a knowledgeable political junkie. They were eager to compare notes and wanted to know if I had planned to start a petition about the horrors of the Democratic caucuses. I told them I hoped that my next article would serve as such a petition.
What the general public does not know is that many people who voted on March 4 were told that they need not stay, return for caucus or caucus at all because their vote had been counted! "Go home," they were informed. Huh? Another teacher who voted in Cedar Hill related that thousands were there just to caucus. The precinct captain had to bring in one precinct at a time. They ran out of sheets for voters to sign for their candidate. In my Fort Worth precinct I was able to get home by ten only because we were dealing with less than 200 people, still a large number by past years' standards. My late night netted a delegate slot though. I stayed behind to become one of Obama’s pledged state delegates, while most Texans were not so lucky — midnight was their quitting time.
The Early Voter Gets the Worm in the Apple
The early voting was also a big story in Texas. When I went to volunteer with the Fort Worth rally, 300 people showed up for a 100-person volunteer chore. More than 12 thousand came to rally. And when Obama asked how many had voted already everyone raised a hand… what a moment. He had paid radio spots on Tom Joyner’s morning show asking people to vote early, and they did, again in the millions. But we were not the only ones listening to a radio prompt. Conservative talk radio talked overtime to push GOP members to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton.
I saw it with my own eyes — neighbors who weren’t voting for Obama were voting Clinton and it was not because they love her. Was it political fratricide? My guru would advise his disciples against going to higher planes in meditation out of fear in order to win. One must be well warned about forced change and manipulated things bent for one's advantage. Why? Because of unintended consequences.
Hating Is Not Helpful
Since hating is neither healthy nor helpful I have to take a political break by watching an old western, The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, to keep from being blinded by rage at both the Dems and the GOP. Tarrant County is a deep Republican stronghold. I didn’t know that before I moved here. I moved to a county that is highly conservative and one that comes with a high cost of living. And this past week I had my fill of both. I am now more deeply entrenched in politics than ever before. It has not been this hot for me since the democratic process that elected Harold Washington mayor of Chicago. I have never had to caucus in Chicago but for Barack and for those damn delegates — I did.
The primary voting ended just past 7 p.m. and we were told that we could come inside. I chatted with a Mexican woman. I was at first afraid to ask who she was standing for. She was an Obama supporter and told me that she spread the word among other Mexicans that Obama was their man, too. I had to agree with her. The wait was over.
I had been waiting from 6:30 until we went in at nearly 7:30 p.m. We were seated according to precinct. That’s when I discovered I lived in one of the largest precincts and we had 13 delegates to divide between the Obama and Clinton camps. But before we could get to that we had to nominate and elect officers: a secretary and a chairman. Then we were told that this was actually a mini-convention. After the two officers were selected we were divided into two groups. Each person had to sign the form with their information, which has to be verified for candidate of choice. Then those signatures were counted: total 158 — 84 for Obama and 74 for Clinton, with a net gain of one delegate for Obama!
Then the crowd was told to wait if we wanted to be a delegate. I stayed. Here’s where the math got nice. We needed seven delegates and eight people raised their hands. Then we said we would have to vote one off. Someone volunteered to drop out of the race. Another show of hands and now we were seven. Then we needed seven alternates, exactly seven folks raised their hands and were accepted, end of race. We all signed our names and were told we had to caucus again on March 29 for more voting. On that caucus day the votes would decide who would go to the state convention on June 6 and 7. More voting, more caucuses, more unsettling scenarios.
The night was fun because the woman who had been standing in front of me at the rally was there. We were both within a few feet of Obama and the riser he spoke from. So, I spoke to her and then we realized the attraction — we were both vegans. So we said that if we were sent to the Denver convention we would display a Texas-sized “Vegans for Obama” sign; we both laughed.
We Can Take a Punch
The night was a go. I wanted to hear that Obama shook off Clinton tonight, but I had an uneasy feeling that it was not to be — just yet. My fears were confirmed when what was to be the only early win posted was for Vermont with the other two still too close to call. It never fails — when I don’t feel buoyed at the beginning of the day of a primary, it won’t go my way. Crying is no way for a candidate supporter to respond. I don’t want to hate Hillary.
I really don’t want to see the Democratic Party implode over "the couple." But implode they will if this thing is not settled soon. I mean I had some really dark thoughts today like enshrining my Obama yard sign and voting Republican — again. But then I came to my senses and realized that the GOP wants us to fall apart. They want us to tear each other apart. They want us to Hillarize and self-destruct. And if The Art of War is instructive then one must do the unexpected in time of embattlement — confound the enemy. Throw him or her off the scent by keeping the balance.
Our Crystal Balls Are Bigger Than Yours
And most of all be careful what you wish for, GOP pundits, because our crystal balls are bigger than yours. We’ve had more experience crystal-gazing and navel-watching. We have been sicker, suffered longer and harder, cried more tears, eaten more dry bread, been poorer and imprisoned more often. As much as independent voters like me hate the Billary divisive dickering we hate the thought of a hundred years' war, debtor’s prison, and sick to death without medicine even more.
The election of a president and a new president makes history by definition. This season is no different except that it may go down as one of the greatest enthusiasm and largest voter turnout in the history of primaries and caucuses. It may go down as the primary that chose Barack Obama as its presidential nominee. And it may be the sun that did not shine after so much promise. We may all need psychological counseling when this thing is done wringing us out on its high-spin cycle. Or will we blow away like billions of shredded bits of confetti in the Texas wind? Because I believe that if there is no Obama sunshine on the Dem ticket — that, too, would be a Dem disgrace.