Saturday, February 09, 2008

Voting for goosebumps

Hey, primary state people. You have it sooo easy. Punch a chad, check a box, draw a line connecting an arrow, whatever. I had to spend 2 1/2 hours in an elementary school gym and fight for my candidate.

Because Rob and I were there, along with about 15 other people, our candidate got 2 delegates from our precinct, while the other guy got 7. (These are delegates to the county convention. Please don't ask how they translate to the total number of delegates for the state. This stuff's crazy confusing!)

You Obama people sure are intimidating, with your rainbow stickers and your signs. It was enough to make a Clinton supporter turn around and leave. What's the point? There's all these signs and stickers for Obama, and I kid you not, I did not see a single one for Clinton. I saw Obama people passing out Obama stickers and hated myself for not being more prepared.

We signed in and indicated that we supported Hillary. (I actually almost wrote just "Hillary" on the sign-in sheet.) Obama was written next to every other name on the sheet.

Then we waited. I suppose if we'd left, our votes still would have been tallied, but then I would have missed the opportunity to sway the undecideds.

We had the worst precinct leader in the gymnasium. So slow, and had the worst possible voice for speaking over a crowd. And I heard the girl who was supposed to be doing the counting ask someone else if he was a "math person." I really should have stepped forward and offered my assistance.

I had a few arguments I thought I could make intelligently as to why people should vote for Hillary. The main one, which I really didn't want to say out loud, is that I thought most of the 18-year-olds (and 17-year-olds, too, by the way, and there were a lot of them, this being a university neighborhood and all) had slapped Obama stickers on their chests without having done any research or critical thinking about the matter.

I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate reasons to vote for Obama. Not that I've heard any of them. Mostly what I was getting from the sticker-wearers today is that he's Not Hillary. But there were a coupla dudes who yelled some passionate remarks at me, and I thought, "You know, he really believes in his candidate. That's cool."

The rest of them? Sheep.

I turned to a couple of undecideds standing next to me and asked if all the rainbow stickers had swayed them at all. They said no, and we had a very interesting conversation about why they should vote for Hillary. Which they then did. So I feel personally responsible for those two votes.

Another dude horned in and said Obama was the better candidate because he used better language. Then he accused me of having never left our little hamlet because I didn't know how hated Hillary is "out there."

This wasn't even the official "sway the undecided" portion of the caucus; we were still waiting for them to finish counting. Forever later, we learned that there were 83 for Obama, 17 for Clinton, 2 for Gravel and 6 undecideds. (Gravel? Really?)

A surprisingly informed young woman represented the 17 of us Clinton-supporters and told the rest of the group that "We shouldn't vote for goosebumps." The aforementioned rude guy said voting for goosebumps was the point. "Gee, I wish I could be as informed as you are on all the issues," he said to her. "For all I know you're from the Clinton camp."

What an idiot, I told Rob. That guy basically just said that he's voting for Obama because he likes the way he talks, and he thinks anyone who argues otherwise with actual reasons must be a plant from the Clinton camp.

A nice Clinton supporter standing next to me overheard at least the last part and said, "He's like that. I have to live with him."

Yikes. I hope she didn't hear the part about her husband being an idiot.

Back to democracy in action. One Gravel person came to our side, her husband went the other way. A couple of undecideds came our way and we went from having one delegate to having two.

So as disheartening and boring as the first endless hour and a half were...I really felt like it mattered that we were there. Not just for our votes to be counted, but so there were two more bodies standing across from all those rainbow sticker people. So the undecideds saw us there when making their choice. And so I could shout at a couple of dudes about universal health care.

Oh, and so I could get chosen as an alternate delegate for the county convention.

No comments: