Friday, February 03, 2012

Precinct caucus survival guide

The 2012 campaign season officially begins in Minnesota next Tuesday, February 7, at ground level with the grassroots of the political parties: the precinct caucuses.

I love senate district-level politics, but few people actually want to go to their precinct caucus. Judging by the plethora of YouTube videos on how to attend a precinct caucus for Democrat candidates going back for years, the Democrats and unions seem to be doing their best to get their folks out of the house every election cycle. That's because the caucuses are a prime opportunity to identify campaign volunteers, get their cell phone numbers and Twitter handles, and mobilize them for the long ground game to Election Day.

Plato once said that one of the penalties for not getting involved in politics is that you become governed by your inferiors; or as many have said, in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. If you are a conservative or libertarian who sat out the 2008 presidential election because you couldn't bear to vote for John McCain, or the 2010 election because you couldn't stomach Tom Emmer, how is that working out for you?

Since clearly the world is run by those who show up to the meetings, what do you need to know to influence the 2012 elections on caucus night? I thought you'd never ask!
  1. Figure out where to go. The Minnesota Secretary of State's office has an interactive precinct caucus page that helps you locate your caucus location, probably a school or church in your neighborhood. It's a good idea to bring this page with you in a printout or on your mobile device, because it will list your precinct number.
  2. Show up early. Caucuses for all parties in Minnesota will begin at 7:00 pm, but registration will begin around an hour before that to allow everyone to get registered. Aside from my earlier comment about people not wanting to attend their caucus, 2008 was a record-breaker, straining parking lots, site capacities, and volunteers. My senate district's precincts will be split among three sites on caucus night to accommodate the anticipated attendance.
  3. Get engaged. Meet your neighbors. Help party volunteers get your name and contact information updated.Volunteer for something.
The main events for the evening will be a Presidential straw poll (which, unlike a primary election, will have no bearing on how delegates are allocated to the candidates), electing delegates to the senate district convention, and debating changes to the party platform. See the always informative Senate District 42 website for more on what to expect on caucus night.

By getting involved in the 2012 campaigns, you'll help influence and elect the candidates you believe in, meet some very interesting and informed people, and have a lot of fun. It all starts on Tuesday.

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