by Craig Masters
Caucus is as good as it gets in citizen politics. But in a country founded with a government specifically limited in its powers, the caucus too has joined most of the guarantees of the Constitution as the reversal of power continues and government erases more of those limits to its power.
There are only 14 states remaining which employ the caucus. Of those 14 remaining states where neighbors meet to tell their party and politicians what they expect, only those two top centers of liberal control, Nevada and Massachusetts, have unemployment rates above the national average. In fact, 4 of the 5 states with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation are caucus states according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 5th member of that elite group is South Dakota where good jobs come calling from the neighbor to the north with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate and a caucus system. Is there a direct relationship between neighborhood caucus participation and more prosperity with opportunity for everyone? Perhaps those who participate in caucuses watch their government more closely and hold tighter onto the reigns of control they were given by the Constitution.
Tuesday, March 4, caucuses will take place across Colorado. Caucuses are not open to everyone. To participate you must have been a voter with a designated party affiliation for at least 2 months and a Colorado registered voter for at least a month before the caucus takes place. You must be a resident of the precinct for at least 30 days, and your voter registration must have been valid for at least 29 days before the caucus. If you moved within the month before caucus you can still be eligible at your previous precinct. Young people who turn 18 and those who become naturalized citizens within the two months preceeding the caucus are also eligible to participate.
Critics would claim this is not fair to those who do not wish to record aparty preference. But nothing could be further from the truth. Caucuses are not elections, they are meetings of members of a political party conducting the business of their party in the smallest, most inclusive opportunity possible; the neighborhood precinct. Those who choose not to participate in the initial stages of the election process are included in the final decision at the polls.
More important is that the caucus process insures a more pure candidate selection process which reduces the possibility of a candidate whose ideology is not the preference of the party members. We are all familiar with the growing number of Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) legislators who do not support the ideology of the party.
The caucus also reduces the opportunity for the opposition party to sabotage candidates who might otherwise be on the ballot for the general election. This is a common practice in primary states where one party may have an unopposed candidiate such as an incumbent. So called open primaries allow the incumbent’s supporters to vote on who will challenge their candidate in the general elections. In these primaries the cross-over voters vote for who they believe is the weakest opponent in order to improve their candidate’s chances in the general election.
Many people believe this is why and how republicans have had such weak candidiates in the recent presidential elections. For example, folks who support Obama vote for the weakest republican candidate in the primary. If the sabotage succeeds, that candidate is who that state nominates at the national convention. Since more states than not use primaries, the national party conventions are weighed heavily in favor of delegates required to cast their nominations to the winner of their state primary. The incumbent’s supporters have a real opportunity to influence his/her opposition in the fall.
This kind of voting will not work as well when the selection process is taken down to the level where neighbors are in the same room with neighbors, face to face, candidates are endorsed and delegates are sent up to the next level in the decision making process.
To find the location of your caucus visit the state party website of your party or call someone who can access the site for you. If you are not sure how to do that, “search” for (your party) of Colorado and you will find your precinct location.