I don't even know where to begin. Tuesday morning around 10 o'clock I waited in a short line to cast my vote in the Texas Democratic Primary. While in line I saw a sign that said to come back at 7 o'clock that evening to participate in the caucus. I had never participated in a caucus, so when I got home I went online and did some homework. I visited both the Clinton and Obama websites for strategy and went to the Texas Democratic Party website for the rules. What I learned was simple... those who know the rules control the process.
The first voter to request the "rule packet" from the precinct judge after the polls have closed receives the packet and can become temporary precinct chair. The temporary chair then has people sign in, verifies that everyone who signed in voted in the primary, then holds an election for permanent precinct chair who takes over the meeting.
But that's not how it went down. There were two precincts meeting at my polling station. At 7:15 Clinton supporters had acquired the rule packets for both precincts and one of the precincts (not mine, but the other) began signing people in. Problem was there were still people in line waiting to vote! I pulled out my trusty iPhone and pulled up the Rules from the internet and accused the Clintonites of signing people in illegally. Turned out, an Obama precinct captain heard my accusations and called an Obama attorney and handed me her cell phone. I was instructed to report the episode to the precinct judge who then came out and confiscated the sign-in sheets. The Clintonites in that precinct weren't happy with me because they had signed Clinton people in and told them they could go home! (Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!) This, despite the fact that on the front of the packet was a sticker that read as follows:
ATTENTION CONVENTION CHAIRS!
The Precinct Convention may not start, including signing in, until every voter has finished voting, even if it is very late. This decision was made by TDP Chair, Boyd Richie in conjunction with both the Clinton & Obama national campaigns.
The polls finally closed around 9 o'clock. By now it was dark and bitter cold. Our polling station was in the parking lot of a fire department. There were no lights and only one restroom. I spoke with the firemen and had them roll a firetruck around so we could use its headlights for light. The Clintonites in my precinct appreciated my understanding of the rules and actually nominated me to be permanent precinct chair! The Obama folks loved it and I won the position uncontested! (At this point I was given the rules packet and saw the sticker I mentioned above for the fist time.) When it came to permanent secretary Clintonites made a pitch that in fairness, the secretary should be a Clintonite. This met with boos from the crowd. I opened the floor to nominations and an Obama supporter won secretary.
We had 136 voters sign in for our precinct convention, 46 Clinton supporters and 90 Obama supporters. (Keep in mind, my precinct did not sign people in early and tell people to go home, so this was a fair representation.) So our precinct's 18 delegates were divided 12 for Obama and 6 for Hilldog-- yours truly being the Delegation Chair as we head to the Senatorial Convention later in the month. The meeting adjourned shortly after 11 PM and I called in the results to the party.
Now this is what sickens me: Clinton forces charge Obama camp with irregularities! Clearly there were irregularities, but for Hilldog to place the blame on Obama is an outrage.
The next morning I woke up with a fever of 103 degrees-- probably from standing out in the cold for so long Tuesday night without a coat! I'm happy to report that my fever finally broke this afternoon, but that's why it's taken so long to post on this whole fiasco.
Shifting gears now, I want to address the criticism I'm likely to get from my loyal readership who might note my outspoken support for Ralph Nader in past elections. You might recall that I signed a pledge prior to the Congressional vote authorizing George Bush's invasion of Iraq stating that I'd never again vote for a Democratic candidate who supports Bush's war. I was bound by my word in '04 and couldn't in good conscience vote for John Kerry. Earlier in this primary race I endorsed Bill Richardson simply because he was the most qualified guy running-- and he was an outspoken critic of the war from the get-go. The field was narrowed down to my two least favorite candidates by the time I got to vote. Nonetheless, I'm willing to fight for Obama all the way to the White House. I can't say so much for Hillary who's more concerned about her nomination than the health of the Democratic Party. She did after all say that she and John McCain both bring a lifetime of experience to the table while Obama only has a speech he delivered in 2004. That is, she ranks a fellow Democrat below John McCain for competency!
We watched Bill Clinton drive the Democratic Party further and further to the right allowing the Republicans to do the same. And from the sound of Hillary's comment, she won't be any different. All I ask is for Democrats to act like Democrats again.
So all you Hillary-backers know this. I'm doing everything I possibly can to "play ball" with the party. But you're on notice... I pledged never to vote for a Democratic candidate who supported the war in Iraq. And I stand by my word. If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, then I'll be bound to vote for Nader in November. It may be counter-intuitive, but my tactic favors the health of the Democratic party far more than going on national television, as Hillary did, and stating that your party's leading candidate is less qualified than the Republican nominee.