Somehow, you could just tell that this year was going to be different.
Being a rock and roll sort of guy and all, I've been doing my thing for these Democrats for at least a couple of decades now — going back as far as the seventies and Jimmy Carter. Although Ted Nugent might take issue with me on this, being a Democrat is just part of the deal for us true rockers.
It's in the manual. Just ask Bob Dylan.
But I definitely knew something was up this time around back in February when I attended my precinct caucus. There were actual people there, and lots of them. The good news is that the race this year seems to be attracting so many newbies and young people. The bad news is that…well, there were so damned many of them.
When it comes right down to it, these caucuses are all about one thing — and that is electing delegates to the national convention. So it was one thing sharing tea and crumpets with the little old ladies back in 1976. All you had to do was say "I wanna be a delegate" and you were in. Competing with several hundred other mostly young people to get elected now by your precinct was another matter entirely.
Fortunately, I did make it to the Legislative District Caucus — held earlier today — as a delegate. On the down side, I knew pretty much the second I walked in the door I would not be going too much farther — and definitely not as far as Denver in August. With pretty much everyone there competing for this same privilege, you had some very hard core campaigners running for those 35 precious seats. Honestly, you would've thought some of these people were running for President themselves.
One lady there even had her own slogan, "The glass is always full, never empty." Not quite as catchy as "Yes, We Can" to be sure, but who am I to talk? She made the final cut, and I didn't.
Not that I didn't give it the old college try though. Having been caught completely by surprise at all the hard campaigning going on around me, and without any signs or banners of my own, I knew I had to think fast. What was called for here was a little old fashioned hand shaking and shilling for votes. I believe they call it "retail politics" these days.
So, being a smoker, I decided to jump start my campaign in the smoking area outside. Now, you might be thinking about now that most Democrats are anti-smoking types, and a select few might even fall into the category of tobacco Nazi. Just ask Washington State's own Governor Christine, right?
And actually that is sort of true. But the secret is that in the same way a lot of those Republican family values types still get their freak on in various deviant ways within the privacy of their closet, a lot of us Dems live our own hidden lives as smokers. Just ask Barack Obama.
So as I had guessed, the smoking area turned out to be a goldmine. I got nearly half of my twenty votes there. When I re-entered the caucus room in the old gym of my alma mater, West Seattle High School, I was already preparing my speech for the final vote. I learned that in the interest of time it would need to kept to thirty seconds, and unlike those debates on TV the rules would be vigorously enforced. So I began scrawling it out on the back of a leaflet for Governor Christine's re-election:
My name Is Glen Boyd and I was born and raised in West Seattle like so many of you here today. I graduated from high school in this very building back in 1974. For those of you old enough to remember, I also ran the neighborhood record store Penny Lane back in the seventies and wrote for the West Seattle Herald.
I ask for your vote to represent Barack Obama as a national delegate today because I believe that in this campaign, unifying the country is an issue that is so important that it supersedes politics. I believe Obama has best demonstrated the ability to do that. As your delegate, I promise to passionately and vociferously support the next president of the United States, Barack Obama. Thank you!"
So there it was. Nothing too fancy, but rather nicely short and sweet. Unfortunately, I would never get to read it.
You just can't compete with slogans about "the glass being full" and all of that. And you certainly couldn't compete with the seventeen year old captain of his high school debate team who pulled in something like 300 votes. He wasn't even a smoker, for pete's sake. Damned sympathy vote!
Actually, I'm just kidding about that last line there. Personally, I find it absolutely thrilling the way that candidate Obama (and to a lesser extent candidate Clinton), has energized the younger demographic this year. If nothing else, by participating at this level, they get a wonderful civics lesson that my comparatively more apathetic generation by and large missed out on in our own youth. By participating in it, they get to learn how the process actually works.
So at about this time, it was my cue to go home after a long day that had begun some seven hours earlier. There were about fifty speeches to hear yet, and even at thirty seconds apiece, this meant a potential of several more hours to go. So I grabbed myself a ballot, made sure to pick the glass lady and the debate kid, and then threw about thirty three more darts at it.
I turned it in, and I went home.
As I write this, my guess is they are probably still winding through the speeches up at my West Seattle High alma mater. As for me? I'm gonna kick back, grab myself a beer, and watch a little tube.
After all, this is still Saturday night…