A Good Yarn

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Democracy in Action

In Minnesota, we have a caucus system. The two main parties in Minnesota are the Democrats (Democratic-Farmer-Labor or DFL party in Minnesota) and the Republicans (Independent Republicans or IR in Minnesota from 1974-1995, but now just plain old Republican). Yes, we are weird and have to do things our own way. Last night, each party held their own caucus - you get together with your neighbors on a precinct by precinct basis. At your precinct caucus, you choose delegates to represent you at the Senate District Convention who then choose delegates to the State Convention. At the State Convention, the delegates choose who will get the Party's endorsement for each office. In September, we have a primary just like other states where voters choose the top candidates who will actually run against each other in the general election, which of course happens in November.

So, let's say you have 4 candidates running for Governor as Democrats. Eventually, one of the candidates will be endorsed by the DFL party, but all of them can keep running for Governor to the primary election and then the voters decide who will be the DFL candidate in the General Election. The system is supposed to be a way to keep the party in the hands of the people - the grassroots system of choosing who is endorsed, rather than just some "party bosses" choosing the candidate for the party. Unfortunately, the public still has the perception that only the real lefties and righties attend the caucuses and Conventions and that the endorsement is still some sort of coronation. The endorsement may not actually help a candidate in the primary, but hurt him. Senator Mark Dayton knew he had no chance of getting the DFL endorsement, so he didn't even bother with the caucus sytem and just focused on the primary and obviously won.

So, is the caucus stuff even worth your time? Back when I was in college I was a political science major and very involved in politics. I was a Republican back then and always attended my caucuses with the handful of other Republicans in very liberal Minneapolis. Then in law school I stopped trying to rebel against my hippie parents and became disillusioned by the GOP that was overtaken by the religious right social conservatives and became a Democrat. I was fairly active in DFL politics and attended caucuses then. After graduating I just didn't see the point and haven't been to a caucus in a while. But since I bitch and complain about how things are going in this country and in this state, I decided I had to get involved again this year and attended my DFL caucus last night. I'm still not sure it wasn't a complete waste of time, but I feel better knowing I went.

We spent most of our time debating resolutions. Anyone can write a resolution and present it to the caucus. We debate them and if they are passed, they are passed along up the line to the conventions and eventually they become part of our party's platform. The most famous resolution to begin at the caucus level was a resolution from outstate Minnesota that eventually resulted in the formation of the Peace Corps. Our caucuses resolutions were about Univeral Health Care, funding ECFE, immigration, voting, the mimnimum wage and some party stuff. Most of them passed without much debate because we really were all pretty lefty and pretty much agree on how things should work. Despite living in a major Metropolitan city, my caucus looked pretty suburban. It was all white middle class people. There was one guy who was a European immigrant and one guy who is a Union worker. One guy is a very famous DFL political commentator and activist. One woman said she's a financial advisor. You know I'm a lawyer. There were lots of senior citizens. I guess if I still lived in Minneapolis, things might be a little more diverse. Or perhaps even a different neighborhood in St. Paul.

Anyway, I wish I had brought this along to the caucus and gotten some knitting done too:

They fit into the Project Spectrum pink March very well, don't they? As you might be able to tell, I am using Lantern Moon rosewood needles on these. I broke another one last night. I started these on my trip to Mexico and had broken a couple of needles on the trip. I contacted Lantern Moon and they were nice enough to replace them with a new set. Extremely generous and very, very good customer service. I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, as I said, I broke one of the new needles last night. I think size 1 is just too small for Rosewood needles. I'm going to stick with the more sturdy ebony needles from now on, at least for needles under size 3.

I've also been reading "A Million Little Pieces". I wish I had read this before the news of Mr. Frey's deception came out. Now that he has admitted that he exaggerated things, I feel like I can tell when he's going off the tracks. There are places where he talks about his addiction and his feelings that sound very real and honest to me. But then he starts going off on what a tough guy he is and how everyone is scared of him and it sounds like so much braggadocio. It annoys me and takes me right out of the book. I'm also not sure I love his style. He creates these long compound sentences with a lot of "ands" in them. Let me find one. Okay, I just opened the book and looked at the first sentence of a paragraph and this is what I find:

I walk to the Dining Hall and I get in line and I grab a tray and I take a deep breath and the smell of the food floods my body and I am hungry, hungry, hungry and I want to eat and I want to eat a lot.

So, that's pretty typical. The repetition you see in there is typical too. Since I'm already annoyed with him and finding him a braggart, I find that repetition a bit pretentious. I'm about 1/4 of the way through and I'm trying to decide whether to finish or not. I hardly ever not finish books. But, life is short, you know?

Speaking of books, I'm thinking about joining Zooba. Anyone had any experience with them? There are a fair number of best sellers and knitting books that I think I'd like for only $10 each and I generally buy at least one book a month, so it seems like it might be a good choice for me.