Chad Perrin: SOB

5 February 2008

Hope For America

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 09:52

I’m back from my precinct caucus tonight — Super Tuesday. There were about eight or ten precincts at this caucus location, one of which looked like it might have only half a dozen or so people showing up. If you’ve been looking for an insider’s perspective on how the caucus process worked, with enough detail to actually know how everything hashed out rather than having to guesstimate based on mainstream media accounts. It wasn’t until tonight until I realized just how awry those accounts can be.

My precinct had 36 people qualified to participate in the proceedings, and one or two observers. For some reason, one of the 36 people didn’t vote on anything, apparently.

Before the straw poll, an opportunity was given for people to speak about the candidates. A deacon spoke in support of John McCain, a retired woman spoke in favor of Mitt Romney, an elderly lady threw in a very brief two cents in favor of Mitt Romney, and at prompting from my SigO I stood up to speak for Ron Paul. Of course, I think I gave the best speech — and the SigO seems to agree.

In the straw poll (aka “Presidential Preference Poll”):

  1. 21 votes — Romney was a clear winner for our precinct. I wasn’t terribly surprised at this, considering the number of people I saw wearing Mitt Romney stickers. There were a couple of (obviously below-voting-age) teenagers handing out these stickers at the entrance.
  2. 8 votes — Ron Paul came in second.
  3. 6 votes — McCain came in third.
  4. 0 votes — Everybody else had no supporters tonight. That included Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani. Apparently, everyone heard that Giuliani and Thompson dropped out, and nobody heard of Hunter.

Of course, that means essentially nothing in terms of who gets the party nomination. Party nomination is decided by delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, MN this September. Our precinct chose four delegates plus alternates to the county assembly, and one each delegates to the State assembly and Congressional district assembly. In order to be a State or Congressional district delegate, you have to also be a county delegate.

For the county assembly delegate vote, people nominated themselves and were given an opportunity to speak briefly about why they’d be a good choice to be a delegate. Each of the 36 qualified caucus attendees could give four votes, one for each person he or she supported as a delegate. I, for one, didn’t use all my votes — but I did use three of them.

My brief speech was probably the longest of them given at this point, but in retrospect I think I did an excellent job of “resume BSing” — casting myself in the best possible Republican flavored light, of course, while speaking honestly about my convictions and background. The vote for county delegates:

  1. 32 votes — Me. Apparently, I speechify very well.
  2. 30 votes — A Ron Paul supporter (I’ll call him G) came in second.
  3. 28 votes — This was the Mitt Romney supporter retiree.
  4. 26 votes — The McCain-supporting deacon took the fourth delegate position.

My SigO, also a Ron Paul supporter, is the alternate — in case someone else can’t show up.

There weren’t really any more speeches after that point. We moved on to the State and Congressional district assemblies, in that order, next. The only people eligible for these positions were county delegates and alternates.

For State assembly, I won with 19 votes — second place had 13. I thought I might be a shoe-in for this one, considering the vote for county. I think the impressive vote total I got for county may have discouraged the deacon and retiree from getting into this one after I announced my intent to be the state delegate. The other two people who threw their hats in the ring (G and my SigO) ended up on the “delegate wait list” — our precinct had two wait list slots.

The way the wait list works is, simply, that if some precincts lack delegates, fill-in delegates are chosen from the wait list.

For Congressional district assembly, the deacon won with 28 votes, and my SigO got waitlisted here as well with all the rest of the votes. The wait-list works the same as for the State assembly delegates.

Remember, the Congressional district assembly delegates are the alternates to the State assembly, and vice versa.

The last vote was for whether to support people who volunteered to be election judges. Two people volunteered, and both were confirmed by an informal voice vote (ayes vs. nays). Not that it matters, really, but one was a Ron Paul supporter, and one was a Mitt Romney supporter. They both struck me as relatively honest types. Neither self-nominated for any delegate positions or spoke in favor of any candidates.

In other words, I’ve had all my suspicions confirmed: it looks like Ron Paul comes in second or third in every single straw poll (although I hear he’s running a very close second in Montana so far on the straw polls), and probably gets the biggest percentage of delegates of all candidates in most precincts. The weighting toward Ron Paul will probably only increase at state levels in caucus states, as the number of delegates chosen for the county weigh in on additional delegates to send to the state, as will happen here in Colorado.

Based on what I’ve seen in personal descriptions of caucus proceedings in other states, and in my own personal experience, it looks like Ron Paul may well be winning. I’ve heard it said that what Ron Paul supporters really want is a brokered convention, which is what happens when there aren’t enough delegates voting for a single candidate to make him or her the clear winner at the national convention, but I’m beginning to think maybe that’s not what we want after all. Maybe Ron Paul will just win this thing outright — and the mainstream media will continue in its misinformed ignorance, basing its projections of “winners” and “losers” on straw polls where a bunch of people are asked what they prefer, but don’t care enough to actually do anything about it.

The winner is the guy who shows up.

14 Comments

  1. Very exciting. This actually motivates me enough to show up at my caucaus when it’s helf here. What did you say about when you went up to speak for Ron Paul? Inquiring minds are… inquiring.

    Comment by Mina — 5 February 2008 @ 11:12

  2. I’ll probably post some from-memory approximations of my speeches in the next day or two. I kinda played them by ear, tailoring them to the crowd — the speeches are kept short, which I found to be advantageous because then I just focus on the things I could say about Ron Paul and myself that would come across best to the people that were there, and not get into the stuff that might be a little more sketchy.

    Comment by apotheon — 5 February 2008 @ 11:26

  3. According to the MSM many of the states award all of their delegates to the winner of the primary. For example California and it’s huge amount of delegates. All of them to McCain. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to believe what you are saying and the Republican convention should be quite interesting as I think with Romney & Huckabee both showing life tonight they will be sticking around awhile longer.

    Comment by The Presidential Candidates — 6 February 2008 @ 12:22

  4. It’s interesting to read how this works (as someone registered as an independent, I am not included in SC’s primary system). It reminds me a lot of the idea behind the Electoral College.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 6 February 2008 @ 07:04

  5. The Presidential Candidates:

    Remember — what you’re seeing in the press is not necessarily reflective of what went on at the primaries. I haven’t been to a California primary, but it could very well be the case that Ron Paul supporters ended up as all the delegates, either in an actual win that wasn’t reported because of the mainstream media’s sloppy guesstimation methodology or as delegates who will have the opportunity to change their votes in a brokered convention.

    The way things are going, it looks like the options are probably:

    1. Ron Paul wins outright, catching everyone by surprise.
    2. We get a brokered convention.

    Thanks for commenting, and welcome to SOB.

    J. James:

    It’s meant to be more of a local, community meeting thing at the most basic level, with neighbors who know each other getting together to discuss what’s best for them and send trusted representatives to the higher levels. As it moves up to higher levels, of course, it does become more and more like an electoral college kind of thing — and sending delegates is characteristic of the electoral college anyway.

    Of course, that “community meeting” with neighbors that know each other and so on isn’t really how it ends up in many cases. As our ability to communicate across distances and travel quickly increases with the advancement of technology, the people we know aren’t just our neighbors any longer — they’re not the people we have to know because they’re near. Instead, they’re the people we choose to know, regardless of distance, because we can choose more selectively. As a result, the SigO and I didn’t know a single person in our precinct caucus.

    We recognized one guy in a different precinct, though.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 February 2008 @ 07:48

  6. That’s a great observasation about the effects of communications changes, “neighborhood”, and politics. Over the last 100 years, between the Internet, phone, and car, one’s neighbors are no longer one’s friends, and one’s friends are rarely one’s neighbors. As the cultural granularity of neighborhoods becomes increasingly fine, neighborhoods are becoming more about income-level than the cross-referencing of income level, ehtnicity, national origin, and religion. As a result, the size of a “neighborhood” in increasing, but in and of itself a “neighborhood” is much less homogenous. That has huge implications for the foundations of the concept of local control, voting, delegates, etc. After all, the idea of a precint, district, etc. is based on the idea that a small group of relatively like-minded individuals are represented by someone to fight the battles against representatives from other groups at a higher level, which simultaneously preseves local harmony and provides the representatives with a clear path to follow. As the granularity gets finer, the state and national battles get re-created in every precint, district, county, etc., which not only causes local strife, but also make it difficult for a representative to properly represent the area they represent.

    I’ve beleived in the electoral college system for a long time, and defended it strongly even after the 2000 election, but this insight has be doubting its utility, unless there is some way to change it so that the connection to geography is removed.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 6 February 2008 @ 11:09

  7. I think the relevance and applicability of systems with a delegate-election bent could be substantially restored by re-adopting some of the intended governmental structure of the US. Keep in mind that a significant provision of the Bill of Rights and the “original” Constitution in general is the assumption of the sovereignty of the State. The Tenth Amendment reads:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    If the sovereignty of the States were restored, I’d expect a sort of downward cascade of localization of political power, resulting in greater community and local geographic political relevance. It’s mostly the ever-increasing centralization of power in the United States federal government that interferes with the relevance of community political concerns, and renders us all simple statistical points in the grand scheme of things.

    Also . . .

    The multi-tiered caucus system with its emphasis on the community makes it possible for a demographic of well-informed, motivated individuals who really believe in something to make more of a difference than they could, otherwise. This kind of system encourages participation for those who know and care about the political state of the nation, whereas a nationwide direct voting system can instead make even the most politically aware and motivated person apathetic about election activities. This year may actually restore my faith in the ability of intelligent, aware individuals to make a difference, rather than simply reinforcing the belief that if voting could change anything, it would be illegal.

    Another option, of course, would be to allow groups to self-organize in blocs regardless of geographic locations, or at least regardless within the broad constraints of State borders. This would provide a sort of virtual neighborhood for determining caucus precincts.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 February 2008 @ 12:41

  8. “If the sovereignty of the States were restored, I’d expect a sort of downward cascade of localization of political power, resulting in greater community and local geographic political relevance. It’s mostly the ever-increasing centralization of power in the United States federal government that interferes with the relevance of community political concerns, and renders us all simple statistical points in the grand scheme of things.”

    This is quite true. This actually ties in very tightly with the piece I’ve been putting together on Free Market Economics; I beleive that the two ideas are extremely intertwined, as well as the 2nd Amendment. In a nutshell, on this point, I beleive that the Founding Fathers never anticipated “national efforts” other than warfare.

    “The multi-tiered caucus system with its emphasis on the community makes it possible for a demographic of well-informed, motivated individuals who really believe in something to make more of a difference than they could, otherwise.”

    This is precisely why I strongly defend the Electoral College, even after the 2000 election when a lot of people called for a shift to a popular vote, despite the fact that the candidate I preferred lost (note the use of the word “preferred”, not “wanted to win”). I actually considered the 2000 election to be a victory for “the system”, in terms of showing that, like the concept of the Senate, it can act to prevent a numeric majority from being able to completely dominate a minority that is nearly a majority.

    It essentially functions as a vote multiplier. I would rather be 1 vote in 10,000 in my district that ends up determining my “winner takes all” state that actually influences the national vote, than to just be 1 vote in 100,000,000 or so. When people see that their vote truly matters, they are more likely to vote, too. Look at the number of people voting in the current primaries. Since the race wasn’t wrapped up by the 3rd or 4th state, people are rushing out to participate, because there is actually a good reason to do so.

    “Another option, of course, would be to allow groups to self-organize in blocs regardless of geographic locations, or at least regardless within the broad constraints of State borders. This would provide a sort of virtual neighborhood for determining caucus precincts.”

    this was precisely my thoughts, but I beleive that it would require a shift to a Parliamentary system, at the very least.

    Comment by Justin James — 6 February 2008 @ 04:05

  9. this was precisely my thoughts, but I beleive that it would require a shift to a Parliamentary system, at the very least.

    I’m not sure I agree with that. On the other hand, my virtual neighborhood notion is not one I’ve examined in great depth, so maybe I’ve overlooked something obvious. Do you have any specifics you can offer to give me some idea why you arrived at that conclusion?

    Comment by apotheon — 6 February 2008 @ 05:07

  10. The reason why I beleive that a shift to a Parliamentary system would be needed is because it appears to be much more tolerant of “special interest” parties. What you and I are discussing would work much better without the current two-party system. Really though, I mis-spoke. I confused the relative abundance of countries with more than 2 prominent (or even effective) political parties in the list of Parlimentary systems with the need to go to a Parliamentary system in order to ditch the two party mess. The real problem that I was reacting against is the current two party system. The two party system is just a mess. Too many voters in both parties support too many different viewpoints, so the parties have ignored logic and cobbled together platforms of mutually exclusive planks. That’s one reason why I find it nearly impossible to vote for anyone, they all are pledged to support something that I find unacceptable.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 6 February 2008 @ 08:18

  11. The two party system is just a mess.

    Ah. Well, I do certainly agree with that.

    . . . and now that you mention it, parliamentary systems do have certain benefits over our current system, in terms of getting more than two parties into the position of supreme executive authority in government. The problem is that in any given race, people tend be able to focus on only two choices at a time. With a parliamentary system, it’s easier to get more parties in play because each region has its own race, and the two options in one region might differ from the two parties in another.

    A parliamentary system combined with a virtual neighborhood caucus system would produce an even more pluralistic political party landscape, I think — because these ad-hoc self organizing blocs would be able to pick their parties of choice (or non-party candidates) more easily without having to face the illusion of even regional binary choice.

    That’s one reason why I find it nearly impossible to vote for anyone, they all are pledged to support something that I find unacceptable.

    I’m still not clear on what you dislike enough about Ron Paul to rule him out.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 February 2008 @ 11:57

  12. […] Chad Perrin: SOB » Hope For America One person can make a difference. (tags: government democracy libertarianism ronpaul republican caucus) […]

    Pingback by links for 2008-02-07 -- Chip’s Quips — 7 February 2008 @ 01:27

  13. In one sentence or less, he and I diverge on what we beleive the function of government should be. Ironically, he and I would describe it the same (“stripped down to the bare minimum”), but I define the “bare minimum” substantially differently than he does.

    I am actually writing a full fledge paper on the topic now; trying to do it justice as blog feedbacks isn’t going to work well, since I am mostly responding as opposed to explaining throughout the board. It is also amazingly difficult for me to coherently put my thoughts together in these basic text boxes. At this point, I have actually combined this with using Microsoft OneNote (which I have been meaning to start using for over a year now), because it is now a real “project”. Offhand, I am really enjoying OneNote. I know that Microsoft Office is not your cup of tea, bujt this is the kind of thing that I think computers should be about. For the first time ever, I can truly research with my computer, the way I was trained to do, instead of merely printing stuff out & remembering where I got it from, or storing a bunch of loosely related links somewhere and wondering what on that page I found helpful 2 weeks later, and so on. Its biggest flaw is that it does not seem to work with the PDF plugin to IE; I need to see if it will work if I save the PDF to file first.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 7 February 2008 @ 08:08

  14. In one sentence or less, he and I diverge on what we beleive the function of government should be. Ironically, he and I would describe it the same (”stripped down to the bare minimum”), but I define the “bare minimum” substantially differently than he does.

    I am actually writing a full fledge paper on the topic now

    I’m looking forward to it.

    Offhand, I am really enjoying OneNote. I know that Microsoft Office is not your cup of tea, bujt this is the kind of thing that I think computers should be about. For the first time ever, I can truly research with my computer, the way I was trained to do, instead of merely printing stuff out & remembering where I got it from, or storing a bunch of loosely related links somewhere and wondering what on that page I found helpful 2 weeks later, and so on.

    There are other options — options that don’t require buying and installing MS Office (or even MS Windows in some cases). For instance (in alphabetical order):

    Also . . . in the Unix world, using Screen and other ready-made glue applications to tie together a group of applications and utilities that together make up the functionality one needs is absurdly easy. That’s how I do this kind of stuff, because none of those applications particularly appeal to me. I don’t just dislike MS Office, after all — I dislike all office suites.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 February 2008 @ 01:57

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License