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Abolish the caucus system

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The caucus system is inherently unfair because so many voters are disenfranchised. If you’re working during the two-to-three hours of the appointed date, if you have kids you can’t leave, if you’re out of town on that day, if you’re in the hospital or too infirm to partake, or if you show up five minutes late, you’re out of luck.

The Pitkin County caucus Tuesday, Feb. 5 was deemed a success because of the record turnout of more than 500 voters, but it was a failure because there are almost 4,000 registered Democrats in Pitkin County. A lot more of them would have voted in a primary election, in which they could get in, vote and get out in a matter of minutes.

The “success” of our caucus was a living example of the need to change the system. Packed in like cattle in an 18-wheeler bound for the slaughterhouse (and surely exceeding the fire code), no one could hear anyone else because of the din, much less move around the room to cluster and “caucus” for our preferred candidates or discuss our views, which is the whole point of the caucus.



Apparently the caucus system only works if hardly anyone shows up.

By the time we got to the straw vote and then to the real vote, I know that all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. If delegates were picked or platform issues discussed, the die-hards must have made those decisions after the crowd dispersed.




I’ve been watching the national TV coverage like a soap-opera addict. It is crazy, all of it. The states, and the parties within the states, have different rules. Some allow Independents to vote (Colorado doesn’t). Some are winner-take-all. Some hold caucuses. Some have primaries, and the system is so convoluted that the news analysts, with all their fancy maps and charts, still are arguing over whether Clinton or Obama got the most delegates on Super Tuesday.

And then there are the superdelegates. More than 800 officials of the Democratic Party (the Republicans don’t do this but are fond of winner-take-all) get sent to the national convention and can vote for anyone they please. That’s 20 percent of the total Democratic delegates!

According to a Feb. 6 article in the Houston Chronicle, “The superdelegate was born in 1984. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, fearing rising star Gary Hart, used his establishment connections to create the unpledged delegate. The argument was that party leaders needed a say in picking a nominee with ‘electability.'”

With an election this close, those free-agent superdelegates can decide the Democratic election. Republicans should abolish winner-take-all. Democrats should abolish the superdelegate. And both parties should abolish the caucus system.

We can’t cure all the political ills, but surely we can begin in Colorado with civilized primary elections replacing the caucus scene we witnessed last Tuesday.

In my dream world of presidential elections, we’d all play by the same rules. Candidates would campaign and debate ” really debate, often and on national TV ” and then we’d (everyone, including independents) vote for them in a primary election, preferably all on the same day.

Then the top-winning candidates would announce their vice president choices and begin campaigning and debating again, followed by a national election, and whoever wins, wins.

No delegates, no superdelegates, no conventions, no electoral college. Short, sweet and saving billions of wasted dollars.

In my dreams. In the real world, the time has come to mobilize toward abolishing the caucus system in Colorado.


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