My visit to the Republican Caucus meeting last night was almost as educational as my visit to the Democratic Caucus meeting. It presented me with new opportunities for growth that I haven’t yet considered in my plan for the Free Commots.
First of all, the attendance for our legislative district was much larger than the Democratic Party, but I expected that – this is Utah we’re talking about. It required several rooms and two sections of a ballroom of a convention center to make room for everybody. They were a lot better organized, because they had separators up to divide the different precincts from each other, and several people assigned to make sure everyone knew where to go. All of the organized help would have been nice at the Democratic meeting.
However my precinct was still under represented. We had more than the Democratic caucus, but only by 5 people. I don’t know how well attended any of the minor parties were, but I imagine they were not large. So out of what I would guess is between 900 to 1,200 registered voters in my precinct, probably less than 20 people showed up for their caucus meeting. That’s somewhere between 1% and 2% of the registered voters.
Another interesting discovery was that, at least in my precinct, it was harder than pulling teeth to get people to even accept the positions of precinct officers or state or county delegates. My wife is a registered Republican because she wanted the positions of precinct chair, and the delegate to the state convention. Our precinct is allotted one state delegate based on how many registered republicans live in our precinct. My wife thought she might have to fight for this position, but instead not only was there no opposition, there was not even any questions by any of the people attending to see who she favored as a delegate in the President, Senate, or House races. It was only the precinct host, who was from another precinct (our previous chair had moved) who asked questions, mostly in an attempt to strike up some discussion and maybe give incentive to someone else to run for state delegate, but to no avail. My wife won the election by affirmation (no opposition) to both precinct chair and state delegate.
Which leads us to the ordeal of electing county delegates. Our precinct allotment is three county delegates. My wife was not going to volunteer for this, partly because she wanted others to have the opportunity to participate, but also because she doesn’t know as much about the county races. After several minutes of no-one volunteering or nominating, she said she would be a county delegate if no one else wanted to. Well, with my wife volunteering, there were still two spots open, which could not be left vacant. It took another 10 minutes to talk a new couple who had never participated before into being the other two county delegates.
I could see this lack of energy as a cause for discouragment, but I am choosing to see this as an opportunity. People choose not to come to their caucus meetings for many reasons, and it is probably just apathy in most cases, but that means I have somewhere to grow and something to work with – an opportunity to help people understand how important being involved is.
In a precinct where more people show up for their caucus meetings, I might run into more of the party prejudice that I saw at both major party meetings, which could make gaining support more difficult. I might also meet more resistance from the party leadership who could see my efforts as trying to persuade people away from becoming affiliated, which I’m not. As it stands, there’s little participation in either party from my precinct so I don’t think they have anything to fear from my efforts – at least I hope they see it that way.