Monday, April 25, 2016

Save the Caucus

Caucus advocates extol the deliberative nature of the town hall meeting concept. Unfortunately, the ideal is far from the current reality; hence, the presidential caucus is on life support.

The Democratic crowd overwhelmed the volunteers (120,000) and the Republicans more private event (60,000) was opaque, and when the results were announced nearly two months later, they were not accepted by many and immediately challenged.

The Republican caucus delegates’ seating was challenged in the Cleveland Convention, not because the participants didn’t follow the rules, but because the process appeared so undemocratic. As polls show, people who participated in primaries expect the mass of voters should rule, not the small regular party-dominated events (see Colorado Caucus – A Republican Football).

Colorado state primaries for governor (2010 and 2014) and Senate (2010) have attracted upwards of 40 percent of the parties’ membership whereas the caucus system is lucky to get 10 percent, and primary results are immediate and verifiable. Current primary proposals would also include Colorado’s one million plus unaffiliated voters as possible participants.

The theoretical advantage of caucuses is that the party participants come together and deliberate, reflecting not just the passion or issue of the moment, but also party traditions and values and the desire to field a winning candidate. However, the caucus process is often overwhelmed by too many passionate participants or dominated by too few party insiders. The primary, which offers the democratic idea of mass participation in a transparent process, is hard to resist.

1 comment:

John S Wren said...

This years Colorado Caucus was a disaster because both state chairs were intending it to be a disaster, there was no positive leadership, and it hasn't fully recovered from the past failed experiment with a Presidential Primary which is a Caucus Killer.

Republicans and Democrats in the legislature saw through the attempt to ram through last minute legislation, and they promise to have a study committee over the summer.

But please, you've seen the Colorado Caucus when it had good leadership, please don't go along with the fiction that what we saw this year was a problem with the system.