Monday, February 18, 2008

LTE: Where were you?

Because of space limitations, the Seattle Times could not print my entire letter on Sunday. Here is the original.

I read with horror the letters to the editor published by the Seattle Times on February 13th. Letter after letter claiming purposeful disenfranchisement of people by the political parties, that the superdelegates have already cast their vote, that the parties are acting in an antithetical way to the American ideals, that the caucus system is designed to help insiders keep a strangle-hold on the primary system, and that there is still confusion about why the primary was held.

The first letter claims that both parties designed the system to limit participation. That is false. The selection of a Saturday afternoon was to maximize the ability of people to participate in the caucus. Caucuses have been held in this state since 1892, our first opportunity to participate fully in the selection of a US President after Washington State was officially incorporated in 1889. Washington's first electoral votes were cast for Benjamin Harrison (R). I find it amazing that people seem to purposefully ignore history in discussions. Washington has been a caucus state since the very beginning, but only now, after 8 years of President Bush, do people realize that there is a political world that needs our attention. Why do we need to fall so far before picking ourselves up?

I know that I can't begin to correct all of the misconceptions and misinformation in a single letter, but I do want to address, in the strongest possible terms that can still be published in a newspaper, the false conclusion that the political parties are the problem, either within this presidential primary cycle or in general.

I got involved in politics after fighting cancer in 2003. I walked into my first local political party meeting knowing nothing. Over the past four years, I have learned a great deal about how the system works. It's frustrating sometimes, but there are reasons for every decision at every step of the process. If you complain about the results without trying to get an understanding of where those results came from, you are letting the process work without you. If you want your voice heard, please get involved. If you don't understand the process, please ask. Hear the call to service, and join in the effort, join in the struggle. I won't say join one party or another, they both need your help.

Get onto the field and help us play the game. Here's a helmet. Here are the rules. Learn by doing, and lead by example. Get engaged, get educated, and feel empowered. Nothing will change in a direction that you can appreciate until your feet hit the ground. Trust me, I know.

Chad Lupkes
King County Rep from the 46th District Democrats
Chair, Washington State Progressive Caucus


Anonymous said...

In the Caucus Process it ignored the fact that many individuals are disabled and or elderly and simply unable to get to the caucus sight. It effectively disenfranchised an entire segment of the population that otherwise would have voted for Hillary Clinton as we found in the Primary Election which accounts for the 20% drop for Obama. The so called Democratic process was in my opinion less than Democratic.

Just an observation and a lot of complaints from elderly and of course disabled people were lodged after the Primary results were revealed. It was also noted that 250,000 protest votes were also made regarding the change in the Primary which had counted in the past and an allocation of delegates had been made based on the over all vote of the general population during the primary.

I think that the entire change caused a swing in the vote that sent a wrong message to the rest of the United States that Barack Obama was gaining ground when in fact he was not. The results demonstrate that he is absolutely not electable in a General Election and John McCain is a more appealing candidate.

That being said the democratic party has its work cut out for them to reconcile this huge problem before the National Convention...

Your favorite friend from the 31st...

Chad Lupkes said...

The Primary has never counted for delegates on the Democratic side, not even in 2000. That's how it works in other states, but it has never been true for the Democrats in Washington State. Were the 100,000 people who came to the caucuses in 2004 protest votes against the cancellation of the presidential primary because neither party was going to use the results for delegate allocation? I don't think so. The only reason that this year's caucus suddenly became so crazy is because twice as many people as four years ago wanted to get involved to replace George Bush. Those crowds were more than some people could handle.

There is a huge misconception about this entire process in Washington State. We are not electing a public official in the primary. I'm sorry, we're just not. The Democratic and Republican Parties, which are fundamentally membership based private organizations, are selecting their candidate for a general election. We want everyone to be able to vote, because we want everyone to be a member of the Democratic Party. But why should non-Democrats be voting in a private selection process for our nominee? People who signed in at the caucus are Democrats. They said so by signing in. People who are primary voters may or not be.

Yes, everyone should be able to vote in the caucuses. We screwed up on that, and I'm going to push for a fully open absentee process for the next election in 2012.

John McCain would destroy this country, or at least would not work to solve a single problem that we face. He would only make them worse. I don't want my sons, who are 9 and 11, fighting in Iraq in 9 or 11 years. I want them going to college preparing for a full life.