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Posted by on Feb 22, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 1 comment

Caucus Cliffnotes (The Lakes/Las Vegas)

 

the lakes las vegas

CAUCUS CLIFFNOTES (THE LAKES/LAS VEGAS)

My Experience at the 2020 Nevada Caucus
(MJ Christensen Elementary School)
Saturday, 22 February 2020

My local caucus was held today at the MJ Christensen Elementary School. Only in Las Vegas will you see a kid’s school named after a diamond dealer.

Cliffnotes, as follows:

— 28 people showed up today at my local caucus, which was held from 12 noon to 2 pm. This number was added to the 40 who voted early. Hence, 68 persons voted in my precinct in the 2020 Democratic Caucus.

— The first alignment resulted in the following tally of votes (early votes plus those present):

32 Sanders
10 Warren
9 Buttigieg
8 Steyer
5 Biden
1 Klobuchar
1 Gabbard
2 Undecided

Viability required 15 percent of all precinct votes, meaning 11 was the magic number to be counted for delegates. This meant only Sanders was viable after the first round of voting.

— Next, each candidate’s representative (one person was selected from each group, which were gathered around tables) was given 1 minute to make a plea to get votes on the realignment (second round of voting). I was stunned at how articulate my neighbors were when speaking. Each person made a very good case for their candidate.

— Then, another vote was taken, which was called the realignment. This open ballot resulted in some surprising results as people moved around the classroom. The 28 persons who showed up were allowed to move. The other (early) votes were counted electronically on an iPad (as a second choice option on the ballot — it was entirely electronic):

39 Sanders
15 Warren
11 Steyer
5 Buttigieg
(I can’t remember the exact scrap count)

— This meant that three candidates were declared “viable,” meaning they would receive delegates. The math formula for allotment was as follows:

4 delegates for Sanders
2 delegates for Warren
2 delegates for Steyer

— There was some confusion about the non-11 count for some candidates. Obviously, only the persons who showed up were able to make an on-the-fly decision. Some votes ended up being wasted. That’s the benefit of actually attending a caucus versus doing the half-assed thing and voting early. While all voting is good, I also found the line to be much shorter today than expected. I waited only 20 minutes to register and the caucus took no longer than 90 minutes from start to finish. I also got to meet some of my neighbors, which was nice.

— I was asked to be a delegate for my candidate but declined. I preferred to give that seat to a Tulsi Gabbard backer who came to support my candidate and I befriended during the caucus. The young man was in his 20s and I thought it was far more important to let a younger person be engaged in the process rather than me, who has been in these battles before. Let others have fun.

Now, my major takeaways:

1. Sanders is a force and the clear frontrunner. My precinct went for Clinton in 2016, by about 55-45 margin. This time, the two progressive candidates took 75 percent of the vote. While 68 votes aren’t statistically significant, it’s not insignificant either. Apparently, Sanders will win Nevada easily statewide, showing this state is far more progressive than 4 or 8 years ago. This gives me great hope as to the future of the movement here and the energy of young people who are the driving force for progressive causes.

2. All the Sanders supporters were young, meaning under 40. Again, the future. Great demographics of progressive causes and democratic socialism. This is particularly satisfying in a city like money-obsessed Las Vegas, which isn’t exactly the epicenter of Leftist politics.

3. Biden’s turnout in my precinct was pathetic. It was shocking. Biden should perform well in my area, which is older, established, and above-average income. Apparently, Biden will do much better statewide, especially among minorities and the braindead union vote, but his showing in my area should be a serious cause for alarm.

4. Tom Steyer. Seriously? Wow. Steyer had a solid showing in my precinct and was well organized. Good spokespeople. Finishing third is quite a feat for Steyer, which won’t draw those numbers throughout Nevada, but who did gain some enthusiasm.

5. Pete Buttigieg got shafted. He was right there in votes close to Warren and Steyer but then collapsed in the realignment. I actually stopped the meeting at one point and spoke to make sure the Buttigieg people weren’t pissed and would leave thinking something was rigged. To go from nearly getting delegates to being shut out (by Steyer, no less) was a baffling outcome to all those in the room.

So, I ended up caucusing for Elizabeth Warren. Sanders has my heart on the issues. But Warren is the candidate best suited to win. I think she’s a longshot, of course. But I was proud to stand with her today.

Finally, I like caucusing. I much prefer having to take part in the political process rather than standing in line anonymously. I presume this is a minority viewpoint and caucusing will be a thing of the past, but I do like the old fashioned way of discussing and advocating for a party nominee.

I want to thank all those who read my earlier reports, commented, and even lobbied me to support their candidate. Please know that I took each instance of outreach very seriously. In fact, I was honored by your interest and swayed by your passions.

More to come, but that wraps up my report from The Lakes/Las Vegas.

FINAL FUNNY STORY: I’m not known in my community, but everyone sees me running each day, which I have been doing for the past seven years. While we were waiting during the caucus, an older woman came up to me. Marieta was sitting beside me. The woman, perhaps 70 and for Biden said, “I’ve never seen you before with your shirt on!” I looked at her and was like, “huh?” Marieta looked at her like she was crazy. Then, the lady mentioned she sees me running in warm months all the time and recognized me from the street. At least, that’s “our story” for now.

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Posted by on Feb 19, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics | 5 comments

Grading Each Candidate in Tonight’s Nevada Democratic Presidential Debate

 

las vegas nevada

 

Here’s what one Nevadan thinks about tonight’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas

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First, let’s get one thing out of the way.  Anyone who says or believes tonight’s debate was bad for Democrats or harmful to party unity simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

That attitude smacks of someone with zero political instinct and no knowledge of American political history.

Fact: Debates are a pressure test and a cleanse.  They are one of the best ways to reveal weaknesses, just as the questions and answers/give and take allows the best candidates to show strength.  Moreover, instead of canned scripts and predictable stump speeches which are all too common nowadays, candidates were forced to engage and think on their feet.  Some Democrats shined in their moment.  At least one candidate melted under the spotlight left a puddle in the middle of the stage.

Party infighting is often good for the party and the eventual nominee. As evidence, I give you the following historical markers

2016 Republicans (won) — 21 candidates began, brutal personal attacks and infighting….resulted in Trump win

2008 Democrats (won) — Clinton, Edwards, and Obama were locked in a three-way dead heat early on. Debates got testy. Eventually, Obama got the nomination and won big.

2000 Republicans (won) — The McCain-Bush primaries got very personal. Things turned ugly. Result? Bush ended up winning a razor-thin victory.

1992 Democrats (won) — Clinton was hammered early on, and thought to be dead in NH. Other candidates piled on, and the party was divided until Clinton’s nomination. End result: Democrats won the election.

1988 Republicans (won) — Jack Kemp and VP Goerge Bush Sr. were in a knock-down-drag-out primary. Kemp forces did not like nor trust the Bush establishment. Outcome? Republicans won big.

1980 Republicans (won) — Reagan initially competed versus a dozen candidates and even had to face a split off wing led by John Anderson (Republican) who ran as an Independent. At one point during a debate, Reagan grabbed the microphone and said, “I paid for this microphone, so I’m going to speak!” Rival George Bush eventually took the VP slot. Divided party? Yes, in February.  Then, they won big in November.

Sure, there have been divided parties that lost presidential elections a number of times. But let’s look at the actual historical record and agree with some balance. Again — tonight’s fierce debate is GOOD for the party and makes eventual nominee tougher. Politics isn’t softball. It’s hardball time. I want serious answers, passion, and pressure testing of candidates. I want to see which candidates can take and throw a punch because a cage fight is what’s going to happen in the general election.

Now, on to my grades for each candidate:

Elizabeth Warren: Grade — A+
I thought Warren might be finished. But she stole the show. Warren was on target all night long, had just the right tone, interjected herself into the debate at the perfect moments, and may have obliterated Michael Bloomberg in a 5-minute stretch that was cringeworthy for the New York billionaire. She destroyed Bloomberg, and that alone keep her in the race. I wish I had seen this fire earlier. Mad props to Warren tonight, the clear winner, by far.

Joe Biden: Grade — B
Biden did well by Biden standards. He didn’t knock anything out of the park, but he hit a clear single and then stole second base. Biden has been lagging on the campaign trail but we saw some fire from him tonight, persuasively arguing he’s been on the right side of many political battles and was there in the trenches with Obama. I didn’t expect much out of Biden, but this was one of his better performances and natural displays of energy. I also thought his command of subject knowledge and experience shined through tonight.

Amy Klobuchar: Grade — C+
Klobuchar needed to perform better but she got tangled up with Buttigieg and others and needed to be rescued by Warren at one point during the exchanges. Again, Klobuchar and/or her staff seem unprepared for questions and controversies certain to be exposed. Why not have a scripted response read to launch? This is the first class of Political Campaigning 101. Klobuchar was semi-effective when talking about her Senate record, but are her votes as a Senator really going to sway any votes? I did not see her connect with the audience tonight in the same way she’s done over the past week, which was effective. I call it a push for Klobuchar. But as the third- or fourth-leading candidate in the race she now needs to take some chances. Playing it safe isn’t a winning strategy.

Bernie Sanders: Grade — C
Since Sanders is the frontrunner, the fact he was only attacked by Bloomberg for the most part, is a win for him. He fought a draw, which is okay when the race remains so fluid. I think Sanders hurt himself somewhat with some fumbling and repetitiveness. Sanders has opportunities to connect with people on a more personal level but often comes across as angry and even militant. I personally like anger and militancy, but that won’t win a nomination or an election. I also think Sanders has to leave some things alone when he’s attacked. Let the desperate attack him, but stay on message. Sanders appears to get flustered on occasion, which is a concern. I tend to watch Sanders more closely for obvious reasons, so perhaps my critique is a bit more sharp towards him.

Pete Buttigieg: Grade — C-
First time we saw Buttigieg attacked repeatedly tonight, and while he remained very much in control, for the most part, we also saw some cracks in the emotional china cabinet. I didn’t think Buttigieg reacted well when pressed by both Warren and Klobuchar, and his anti-Washington bullshit is hick stuff. Buttigieg has been refreshing throughout the campaign, but tonight was his first miss. Nothing catastrophic happened But we might have seen Mayor Pete topping out.

Michael Bloomberg: Grade — F
I cannot fathom a worse more unprepared performance than we saw tonight from Mike Bloomberg. I thought these New York types were supposed to be smart and tough? Bloomberg was horrendous. He was utterly destroyed by Warren during one exchange and then made the controversy (about his background and treatment of women) worse with an answer that made the audience groan. His calling Bernie Sanders “a communist” at one point was straight out of the Republican playbook, and even the other candidates were shocked. The billionaire emporer has no clothes. As I said, thank goodness for debates. They exposed this fraud quick. He’ll be around for a while and might even be a force, but Bloomberg lost everyone’s respect tonight as a serious choice in the race. Just a horrific performance in every way.

Heading into Saturday’s Nevada caucus, my scorecard now reads:

KLOBUCHAR — 45
SANDERS — 45
WARREN — 10

* note: percent chance I will vote for the candidate in the caucus

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Posted by on Feb 19, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 2 comments

Updating My Nevada Caucus Vote (Three Days Away)

 

Bernie Sanders

 

UPDATING MY 2020 NEVADA CAUCUS VOTE

A week ago, my lean was 60-40 in favor of Amy Klobuchar over Bernie Sanders.  What I mean is — there was about a 60 percent chance I’d vote for Klobuchar and 40 percent chance I’d vote for Sanders.

Here were my thoughts at the time:  Announcing My Lean in the Nevada Democratic Caucus

Three days ago, my lean declined to 54-46 in favor of Klobuchar, based on her fumbling some major issues here in Nevada.

Here were my thoughts as to why Klobuchar lost some of my confidence.

After last night’s Town Hall (CNN) which featured both Sanders and Klobuchar onstage for an hour each, my lean has shifted again, to a razor-thin 51-49 margin with Klobuchar now perilously close to losing my vote.

Looking ahead, two more things will likely shape my final decision.

[1] Tonight’s debate is absolutely critical for Klobuchar. I have watched Sanders actually improve on the campaign stump in recent months. He seems to have more passion and energy than anyone could have expected for a 78-year-old candidate. I’ve also been impressed that he’s found a better way to explain his complex positions with some clarity. Klobuchar, on the other hand, remains a serious concern to me. I need to see something from her tonight that makes me confident she can front a national campaign in the fall against Trump, the nastiest possible adversary, and if not knock him out at least prove she belongs in the same ring. Klobuchar’s waffling Midwestern PTA meeting demeanor isn’t going to cut it at this point in the race, either tonight or in the future. I need to see some fire, without pandering to the usual Democratic establishment. That’s a huge turnoff, to me.

[2] I had three different people from the Bernie Sanders campaign personally reach out to me and invite me to be part of the media scrum who attends and covers his speech this Friday night at 7 pm in Las Vegas. I have met Sanders before, seen him speak, and was long-ago a fan way before he was known nationally (as an avowed socialist Senator). I don’t need to shake hands with Sanders or see him speak live to be starstruck. I already know and respect the man (and generally agree with 9/10 of his positions). Still, what impresses me is the small things; that Sanders’ campaign is so on top of the race that they would text me with invites to join the press pool and cover the candidate. That’s a well-oiled machine that can win an election.

Meanwhile, despite my professed public support for Klobuchar, including multiple tweets, several Facebook posts, and an article explaining my lean (which got several thousand hits), not a single person has reached out to me from the Klobuchar campaign, certainly not in any media capacity, and not even with an invite to come to see her speak. I realize Klobuchar’s campaign is still in the formative stage, but these little things at the grassroots level do matter.

Oh, but I did get several robocalls from Klobuchar, as well as Biden (more than anyone else), and various Democrats professing to endorse Biden. Sanders did not robocall me — that lone should tip the scale 3 points in his favor.

So, tonight’s debate will weigh heavily. I’ve given up on Klobuchar’s operation in Nevada so far as outreach. I don’t take that personally, but I do have to credit Sanders’ people for being far superior in terms of the ground game here in my state.

Meanwhile, all I see from Biden is cozying up to the big union and running a campaign through robocalls. As for Bloomberg, he’s just spewing money with ad buys. Buttigieg has my respect and has also done some solid groundwork in Nevada. Warren’s ground game is also very good, but her attempts to win my support through ads showing her working closely with “Dirty Harry” Reid were a huge turnoff. If a campaign is using that corrupt fossil to attract local votes, I’m totally repulsed by the campaign.

Current scorecard: Klobuchar 51-49 over Sanders (and subject to change). My vote takes place this Saturday.

Here’s a detailed account of what happened when I caucused here in Nevada back in 2016, in favor of Sanders.

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

Updating My 2020 Nevada Caucus Vote

 

amy-klobuchar

 

UPDATING MY NEVADA CAUCUS VOTE (15 FEB.)

To use a sports analogy, I put her in the game, and she’s fumbled twice and thrown two interceptions. I’m looking over to the bench to see what”s available, and there sits BERNIE SANDERS.

Last week, I wrote and posted here and on Facebook for the first time about my lean in the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus.  I finally announced my support for a candidate.

Based on several factors and weighing the evidence, I calculated the percentage that I would vote for AMY KLOBUCHAR in next Saturday’s Nevada Democratic Caucus at 60 percent. BERNIE SANDERS stood at approximately a 40 percent chance. No other candidate was on my list of considerations.

Here’s an update:

I now assess my support for KLOBUCHAR at 53 percent. She dropped seven points. That means I still lean slightly to KLOBUCHAR over SANDERS in the race, but that lead is fragile and subject to change.

Four things have hurt my support for KLOBUCHAR, all within the last 48 hours:

(1) KLOBUCHAR’s appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher last night was a disaster. Actually, she did very well in the 14-minute sit-down interview with the host, for 12 minutes. Then, the final two minutes were a political train wreck.

Maher’s pet issue the past two weeks has been “what happens if Trump loses the election and refuses to concede — then what’s the plan?” He’s done entire monologues on this. Each candidate gets asked this question. It’s a tough question, but one that a presidential candidate must be anticipating if anyone on KLOBUCHAR’s staff was doing their job.

So, KLOBUCHAR was smiling and about to wrap up a successful appearance in front of likely the biggest audience of her career, 12 million mostly sympathetic Left-leaning viewers. Even Maher was practical about the race and seemed to lean to KLOBUCHAR. She was two minutes from the finish line.

Then came the question everyone in the audience was anticipating: “What will you do if…….”

KLOBUCHAR might as well have been a deer caught in the headlights. She paused and fumbled. In fairness, this wasn’t KLOBUCHAR’s fault. She doesn’t have time to watch Bill Maher on HBO. She’s kinda’ busy right now. But someone on her staff had to know that question was coming. Maher even prefaced the question with, “I ask this question of all the candidates….”

This is the job of advance people.  Researchers.  Campaign staff.  A competent manager.  They blew it.

Then, to make matters even worse, KLOBUCHAR gave the answer that made Maher cringe and the audience groan. Viewers of the show know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s was a disaster. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the look on Maher’s face. He was bent over with his head tilted down towards his lap, his face covered by his hands as if to say. “OH NO!”

It could have been a great night for KLOBUCHAR. Instead, it was a disaster. Oh, and she also forgot the name of the President of Mexico, but I’ll cut her some slack there on a fatigue lapse of memory.

(2) Some of the comments posted in favor of SANDERS to my previous thread on Facebook did resonate with me. I do listen to reason and weigh the evidence.  If you don’t do this also then, excuse me, you might be in a cult.  I won’t call out anyone by name, as you know who you are when I responded to the posts on social media. However, one significant counterpoint that was made did neutralize one of my concerns about SANDERS.

I noted SANDERS winning the presidency in November would create an inevitable backlash in 2022 where Democrats would get hammered and probably lose the House and certainly lose the Senate.  That would set up another impasse, and the perception that Sanders was a bad choice and Democrats can’t govern.

Short version of this is, even a SANDERS victory could be perilous to the long-range goals of the Left (basically, wrong candidate at the wrong time). SANDERS’ backers noted that it doesn’t matter which Democrat wins the White House — the Republican slime machine will kick into high gear. Any Democrat will be called a “socialist.” It doesn’t matter if Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg or Jimmy Carter is in the White House, the dirt-dumb simpletons who know nothing of political terminology will label anyone a socialist. So, SANDERS or whoever, it won’t matter. The 2022 prospects are the same. I hereby concede on this point.

(3) KLOBUCHAR supported last year’s anti-BDS bill which means she backs criminalizing American citizens’ criticism of Israel. This is totally unacceptable. It’s anti-free speech. The bill has to be unconstitutional. She was the only Senator to vote in favor of the anti-BDS bill, which is an AIPAC initiative. Whatever someone believes about the Israel-Palestine conflict, suppressing free speech is wrong. The ACLU is on our side of this, but unfortunately, the anti-BDS bill passed in the House and the Senate and is now in limbo as states and courts battle it out. I was not aware of KLOBUCHAR’s position on this and find her support to be very troubling.

(4) Here in Las Vegas, KLOBUCHAR gave two speeches (I saw clips on television) where she slams “socialism.” This isn’t a way to win my support. In fact, it’s repellant. I almost flipped against her on this issue alone.

If KLOBUCHAR wants to use the evils of “socialism” against her rivals, I’ll listen and be prepared to chalk up some of the rhetoric to political opportunism. But if she’s going to trash the core principle of government as an agent of social and economic justice (the essence of socialism), then I’m prepared to bolt from her campaign and march to BERNIE SANDERS. Anyone who uses socialism in the pejorative is an automatic strike-against with me.

My updated assessment — she’s on a serious tightrope with me right now, and the wind is blowing.

To use a better sports analogy, I put her in the game, and she’s fumbled twice and thrown two interceptions. I’m looking over to the bench to see what”s available, and there sits BERNIE SANDERS.

With seven days still to decide, I welcome input. If you don’t live in Nevada, consider me your proxy. Feel free to try and persuade me who I should support in the Nevada Caucus. I will post again if my opinion significantly changes.

Follow the latest dicussion on FACEBOOK.

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Posted by on Feb 14, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, What's Left | 0 comments

Election 2020: My Experience in the Last Nevada Democratic Caucus (2016)

 

Nevada Democratic Caucus

 

Writer’s Note:  The 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus is only a week away.  For those unfamiliar with how exactly a caucus works, here’s a detailed, and sometimes humorous account of my last experience, which happened four years ago.

 

The Self-Indulgent, Highly-Detailed, and Occasionally Funny Story of My Nevada Caucus Experience  in February 2016

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This past Saturday morning, I attended the Nevada State Democratic Party caucus for Precinct #6672, which covers The Lakes section of Greater Las Vegas.  I take great pride in boasting I reside in The Lakes.  That means we’re better than everybody else, except for those rich pricks that live in Anthem.

My precinct includes mostly single-family homes, plus some nice condos and a few apartment complexes in the area just north of Desert Inn and west of Durango.  For those unfamiliar with Las Vegas, that’s about 7 miles off the Strip, heading west towards Summerlin.

Democracy in action.

 

What’s a Caucus?

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A state caucus is a very different experience from attending either a primary or a general election.  Most of us have participated in both primaries and elections before, in which procedures are familiar:  (1) we check in with a poll worker, (2) enter a voting booth, and then (3) cast a ballot in secret.  On most occasions, voting takes no more than a few minutes if the line isn’t long.  However, caucuses take considerably longer than that and require much more of a commitment.  For this reason, caucuses don’t generate nearly the voter turnout as primaries and elections.  Good.  Keep out the doddering dimwit dirt-dumb masses.  They vote Republican, anyway.

About 80,000 Nevadans caucused this year, which was down from 117,000 the last time there was a real contest back in 2008.  Given the clear decline in statewide turnout, it’s becoming apparent that Barack Obama had a serious impact on overall enthusiasm when he initially ran back in 2008 which this year’s Democratic candidates are not matching.  That could spell trouble for the Democratic nominee, come November 2016. [EDITOR’S NOTE:  Wow, what I right or what?!?]

 

Pros and Cons

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Nevada’s state caucus has both pros and cons.  It brought both good news and bad news for those of us proud to call “the Silver State” our home.

It was good for us because we’re only the third state (on the Democratic side) to hold a primary/caucus.  That means our votes really matter this time, more than in past years, when we voted much later in the primaries, by the time the races had already been decided.  Nevada has a reputation (deserved somewhat) as a state that’s politically indifferent, apathetic even.  Accordingly, there were some valid concerns Nevadans might not be the best voting block to determine party nominees in the privileged spot of early primaries and caucuses.  Nevada’s reputation certainly isn’t enhanced any by its reputation where just about anything goes when it comes to vice.  Fortunately, holding this “first caucus in the West” may have turned a corner, symbolically speaking, as Nevada’s population increasingly becomes more diverse and representative of the nation as a whole.

As for the bad, caucuses can be intimidating for some voters, especially those who aren’t as involved in the political process or up to speed on the issues.  For one thing, participants are required to pledge their support for candidates publicly — in front of friends, neighbors, and others in their local community.  While many of us proudly wear out political stripes on our sleeves and have no hesitation supporting a candidate, others could be less enthusiastic about the process and even dissuaded from attending.

[Another quick note about caucuses:  As an activist, I prefer this option over simple voting because it weeds out some lightweights who aren’t as dedicated or informed (with exceptions — some voters may have legitimate conflicts with work, school, or family and cannot attend a process that takes a few hours).  The downside is losing all privacy in a caucus.  I have serious questions about the biggest unions in the state and membership which turned out heavily for Hillary Clinton.  Were some workers who caucused at polling places such as the big casinos intimidated from possibly supporting Bernie Sanders?  In response to criticism that a Saturday caucus would penalize lots of service industry employees who are at work during the busiest day of the week (many of whom are in unions that support Clinton), local Democratic Party officials set up caucuses as several casinos on The Strip.  That’s fine.  What’s troubling here is the potential for intimidation in a work environment when it comes to pledging public support for candidates.  How many union bosses were dutifully overseeing their flocks making sure their subordinates turned out for Clinton?  Yeah, those are sour grapes — but valid questions.]

 

Standing in Line

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Marieta and I arrived at about 10:45 am.  We heard people that would be allowed in at 11 am.  However, the doors were open and registration had already begun by the time we arrived.  Our precinct caucus was held at a local elementary school — MJ Christensen — who turns out is a local diamond merchant and jeweler.  Only in Las Vegas would you see a public school filled with impressionable children named after a diamond dealer, an end-of-the-line financial empire built on the backs of native Africans laboring away in dangerous mines for less than a dollar an hour and monopolistic practices of the global diamond market-based in Antwerp, which artificially creates the lunacy of allure for these buffed up coal deposits.

But, I digress.  We were discussing the caucus.  Here’s what you would expect to see:

IMAG1822

 

We waited about 10-15 minutes in line before finally clearing registration.  While standing in line, we were surprised to see volunteers from both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns actively engaging those of us waiting to reach the front in order to check-in.  They were polite.  Each volunteer tried to pass out stickers and buttons in support of their respective candidates.  I thought it somewhat odd that campaign workers are allowed to actively engage voters who wait in lines, but this was only a minor annoyance.

Once at the table, we weren’t asked to show any form of identification (voter ID laws are a controversial issue in many states).  Instead, we were asked various personal questions such as name, date of birth, address, and so forth and then once our identity was confirmed, each given a ballot.  The photo above shows the line at check-in, with perhaps 20-30 people lined out the door and standing outside.  Later on, I was told the line reached more than a hundred.

Surprisingly, our local school was the polling place for not just us, but eight precincts on the west side of Las Vegas.  So, the long line was somewhat misleading since it includes a much larger geographic area than I had initially realized.

After some confusion, we were shuffled into a first-grade classroom at the end of the hall.  This was to be the official “caucus” of Precinct #6672.

 

Back to School

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Here’s where the situation turned comical.

No one considered the quirky logistics of large numbers of adults crashing into a classroom tailored entirely for 7-year-olds.  All chairs and tables were tiny, made for little people, raised no more than a foot up off the floor.  Moreover, the seats were made of plastic for bodies that weighed perhaps 70-80 pounds.  Watching 200-plus pound adults, some of whom were over 6-feet-tall trying to scrunch into these uncomfortable chairs with our teeth pressed into hour knees was unbelievable, until we finally decided to grin and bear it….remember, this is basically what flying coach is like.  So, we dutifully took our seats and toughed it out.  Also, seeing lessons posted up on the wall about being good little boys and girls would prove useful once the political debate started.

IMAG1825

 

A Party Divided

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The gathering included some serious drama.

As I said before, we were among the first to arrive.  Once we entered the classroom, a pleasant young man asked us who we intended to support.  When we answered “Sanders,” he insisted that we sit on the opposite side of the room.  This seemed like a strange request since the 10 or so people already in the room had gathered around a large table and were talking like old friends.  It was an odd feeling that we were asked to sit elsewhere until we learned the Hillary Clinton supporters were to caucus over here, and we were supposed to gather over there.

There we went.

Five minutes later, I took a quick headcount and it was 11 lost souls on the side of the room for evil Clinton, versus just 3 with wisdom on the side of good and decency, hardly enough of a quorum to belt out a chorus of “The Internationale.”  I whispered over to Marieta that this was going to be a very long day, insisting that the demographics of clueless old people who tend to reside in The Lakes were within the Clinton sweet spot.  I feared this was a very bad early sign for Sanders in Nevada, even with the ridiculously small sample size.  I’m a fatalist, remember.

But then, the winds of change blew (hey, I’m trying to make this interesting — we’re caucusing inside a first-grade classroom, so cut me some slack….I’m building steam).  The Sanders supporters began to flow in, presumably done with morning Pilates and utterly famished by granola bars.  Perhaps they’d partied too long the previous night and were just waking up.  A few minutes later, it was 16 awful people for Clinton and 14 heroes for Sanders.  We’d closed the gap!  From that moment forward, each time a new person walked into the room, there was a real element of suspense.  With noon approaching and the deadline for new attendees, it was deadlocked even at 23 supporters each.  The drama rose faster than anatomy parts under Bill Clinton’s desk.

Then and there, I realized Sanders was — what we call in sports betting — a mortal lock.  This was the perfect microcosm of a caucus.  The older and more traditional types, the stubborn party loyalists, the old guard — they would mostly tend to arrive EARLIER.  Just like the 5 pm buffets all around town that are packed with blue hairs, Clinton’s loyalists had already shown up and blown their wad.  Sailors the first hour of shore leave.  The druggies, the radicals, and the intellectuals like me who stood with Sanders would stumble in, either lost or late.  Gee, I wish I could have made a bet on this.  I knew my instincts were correct.  We were a lock.

Then, an old bitch walked in and nearly blew it.  An old woman with white hair who looked like she died five years ago doddered in like she’d lost her Social Security check, and we knew instantly that Clinton had taken the lead.  Fuck.  Okay, so that’s me thinking to myself.  I didn’t say it too loud.  Then, a youngish girl with pink hair and a giant nose ring accompanied by a boyfriend with lots of tattoos came in just moments later, and I knew we were back on top.  Rescued.  25-24 for Sanders.  If the blue hair dies while in caucus, we might be 25-23.

Just as the official proceedings were about to begin, three more people popped into the room.  At that instant, there was a deafening silence as they waddled the carpet towards the chalkboard.  Conversations stopped in mid-sentence.  Arguments ended.  We all knew that whichever side of the room they sat on would tip the scales and determine the outcome of our precinct (or so, we thought — ass-ripping spoiler alert ahead).

The three older white angry-looking latecomers walked down the middle of the classroom, seemingly caught inside a parking garage forgetting what level their car was parked.  When the precinct captain finally asked “who” they were supporting, someone mumbled “Bernie,” and 25 people on my side the room suddenly burst into loud applause like the Broncos has just scored the winning touchdown and covered the point spread.  If I had a football, I would have spiked it over the American flag.

Democracy rules.

 

The Caucus Begins

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Oh, wait.  Before I tell the story about the actual caucus (you still with me?), first I have to rant.  Hide the children.  Lock way the knives.  This is going to be ugly.

I love that people are engaged and interested.  I really do.  It’s so Norman Rockwell.  It’s so America-like.  I’m interested in what common people think about the issues.  Sometimes.  Occasionally.  Okay well, never.  But, I digress once again.  Let me continue.

The gibberish that flowed of the mouths of some of these people were gut-busting, bat shit baffling!  One woman, a Clinton supporter, got into an argument with a Sanders supporter.  The woman barked, “I will never support Sanders!  I don’t want to work hard and just give it away to people who don’t want to work!”  I should have retorted with caucus instructions for the next Donald Trump rally taking place this Tuesday night because she must have either gotten lost or she’s clearly in the wrong political party: however, it took me a couple of minutes before I could regain my ability to speak.  She’s bitching about supporting “people who don’t want to work?”  That’s really her biggest issue?  That’s what bother her most — not wars, nor income inequality, nor health care, nor the environment, not any of the other 189 issues that are more important right now?

Fuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkkkk.

Another Clinton supporter brought up the subject of foreign policy.  Well, not those words, exactly.  More like, “Bernie won’t keep us safe!” or something that you might hear at from Ted Cruz.  Somehow, I resisted the temptation to scream out “REMEMBER BENGHAZI!!!!!!”  But that would have Tea-Partied me straight off to Cliven Bundy’s psych ward.

I realize there’s some obvious bias here which is juicy cannon fodder for the haters, but when I chose to, I can speak with some bona fide objectivity when it comes to political discourse.  Without exception, everyone on the Clinton side of the room, particularly those who spoke out were very traditional old-guard Democrats very much used to support the establishment.  It sort of reminded me of what Palm Beach County’s nursing homes must be like on bridge night.  Don’t misunderstand me, these were loyal Democrats.  But they were not voters who thought much about issues or even seemed to have much of a grasp of current affairs.  They were voting for Hillary because Madge and Betsy were doing the same thing and that was the norm.  They hadn’t had an original idea, nor an outside the box thought since trying to decipher the hidden lyrics to The Platters when they were teenagers.

Meanwhile, Sanders’ supporters were far more intellectual, clearly more widely read, talked in far greater detail with facts and statistics about real rather than imaginary issues, and were even in some instances still not fully sold on Sanders, but at least swayed enough by his message of change of political revolution that the idea seemed intriguing and worthy of supporting.  I often judge a person’s intelligence on civic matters and the prospect of wanting to get to know them better (politically speaking) based on whether or not they can see shortcomings within their own philosophical persuasion.  Those who acknowledge a wide spectrum of likes and dislikes and prove themselves capable of POLITICAL INTROSPECTION are far more credible than blind sycophants who fail to see any flaws in their own leanings and favored candidates.  Doubt, and even self-doubt, are virtues, in my political wheelhouse.  Blind faith is the elixir of stupidity, proof of a close mind that desperately needs lubrication.

Yeah, it’s a small sample size.  Many Clinton supporters are very bright people fully capable of arguing a compelling case, I agree.  However, none of them were present at Precinct #6672.

 

The Caucus Really Begins

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Sorry for the caucus prick tease.  Time for action.

A nice woman with a Clinton sticker on her shirt stood in front of the classroom and called the meeting to order.  The first matter of business was to select a caucus precinct captain.  The lady mentioned that she’d attended three training sessions and that was why she was heading up this meeting.  She asked for unanimous consent to be “elected” as captain or chairperson or whatever she wishes to call herself.  I figured this was not the time to throw down the gauntlet and draw a line in the sand, fearing turning the whole room against me, so I too meekly raised my hand and went along with the rest of the crowd, agreeing to vote in a Clinton supporter as our leader.

Next, the vice something or other, the assistant, the second in command was to be chosen.  One never knows if the chairperson might collapse before our very eyes and die on the spot, necessitating a chain of command where the precinct is rescued by a backup.  To ensure against this dire possibility, a young man wearing a Bernie t-shirt offered himself up as the Biden of the group and he too was voted in with unanimous consent.  Now, we were rolling.  Ten minutes into the official caucus, we’d established our leadership.  Had both the chairperson and assistant somehow been wiped out or become disposed of in some kind of disaster, one presumes our caucus would have been suspended since we didn’t have a contingency for a backup to the backup.  Sort of like Grand Poobah in The Mikado, I role I once played by the way.

After that, the lady took out a large manila-style envelope and asked for contributions.  She noted the State Democratic Party mandated that envelope be passed around the room in the event some idiot was gullible enough to donate money someone might be so delusional, they might be inclined to pull out a checkbook.  I saw one lady drop a twenty into the envelope as it was passed around the room.  Too bad that was after it had already passed through my hands — as I might have been tempted to pilfer the loot.

Next, we had to count the number of attendees in the room and determine if we had a quorum, whatever that meant.  We took a headcount, by rattling off numbers one at a time.  Surprisingly, we all discovered we could count to 53, but even with 53 witnesses that weren’t enough clear evidence of an exact count, and so we had to do it all over again.

Really.

So, we started again, this time counting ourselves as we raised our ballots.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  And so on.  Fittingly, this was a first-grade classroom.

 

The Vote

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During the merry go-count-around, we discovered one person was visiting from out of town and had come in as an observer.  I have no idea how someone stumbled in off the street into a caucus (talk about a bad case of getting lost!), but this actually happened.  Since there’s apparently nothing at all to do in Las Vegas, this person declared she was visiting and did not intend to participate in the caucus.  I resisted the temptation to ask where she was headed off to next — the joys of an insurance seminar?

Next, we were shocked to discover two people had been sitting on the wrong side of the room.  When it finally came time to count heads and take ballots, two people in the Clinton camp professed the intended to vote for Sanders.  That created some confusion, but at least we didn’t have to recount the room again.  Turns out, Sanders ended up with 28 votes to 24 for Clinton.  Sanders was the winner!

Of course, one pass through wasn’t enough.  We each raised our ballots once again, one at a time, and (shocker!) the vote turned out the same.  28 to 24.  The Sanders side of the room erupted in applause while the Clinton camp appeared disappointed and dejected.  As I said, democracy works.  Kinda’.

IMAG1827

 

This is Ologharchy Democracy?

.

Turns out, our precinct was given 8 delegates to award proportionally, according to the vote (delegates to the county and state convention — not the national).  The chairperson pulled out a calculator and did the math according to her instructions.  Unfortunately, the 28-24 margin wasn’t within the formula to award delegates 5-3 in favor of Sanders.  Even though Clinton lost by 4 votes, the delegate allocation would be split evenly, 4-4.

Someone in our group protested.  Okay, that was me.  Then, another more vocal supporter stood up and demanded to know what it would take to get the delegates to swing 5-3 for Sanders.  Again, the calculator provided the answer.  The chairperson stated that if we could get ONE Clinton supporter to defect, that would tip the scales 5-3.  Since caucuses are different and give us that right, we pounced.

One of the Clinton supporters (to his credit) admitted he was unsure about supporting either candidate, but had made a rather quick decision to do what seemed safe.  The man, perhaps age 60 or so, dangled a carrot by stating he might be swayed to come over to the Bernie side.  That launched a remarkably interesting 15 minutes of dialogue which surprised even me.  The case for Bernie couldn’t have been argued any better than OJ’s lawyer, and I really thought we had a shot at swaying not just the weak link in the chain, but half the room.

Well, the man inexplicably became stubborn, unresponsive to logic and burrowed himself deeper into the Clinton camp like a fat tick on a farm mutt.  Had the ballot been secret, I’m sure he would have defected.  However, peer pressure can be a strong force — again — one of the problems with caucusing.

Final delegate count:  Sanders — 4, Clinton — 4.  

 

This Caucus is Adjourned!

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The final order of business was to select actual delegates to attend county-wide caucuses and register their votes.  Volunteers were taken.  I joined with Leon Trotsky and two others locked arm-in-arm as pledged delegates for Sanders, to be cast in Clark County sometime in April.  One guarantee:  At least I’ll have material for another column.

We departed and went off to lunch.  Even with the annoying quirks and time-wasting, I still felt satisfied with what I’d experienced.  I felt even better about Sanders’ chances of winning Nevada.  If he could carry my precinct, which probably has all of ONE Socialist actually living in the entire neighborhood, and few of the base demographic groups that tend to support Sanders strongest like students and free-spirited artists as you might see in other parts of town, surely he was pulling even bigger numbers elsewhere.  From my vantage point, the Sanders camp was representative of the heart and soul of the left, while Clinton attracted a far more traditional voter.  Then, I realized I’d forgotten about unions and the commotion that was probably taking place on The Strip, where turnout would probably be high since the caucuses were so convenient.

As I was enjoying the first part of my meal I checked my messages.  That’s when I lost my appetite.  Corky Parks, my fellow leftist comrade off of Facebook, messaged me and announced that NBC had called just Nevada for Clinton.  I wanted to punch the phone.

Fuck.

Democracy in action?  I guess I need to go back and repeat first-grade.

 

nolan-dalla

 

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