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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Democracy and Me: a Tale Told in Tweeds

The just-ended Washington State primary, which flip-flopped the results of the March Washington State Caucuses, triggered an old memory and sent me looking to find it in the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse in my head. Here's a report of my precinct meeting in Seattle, March 2000. I make a cameo appearance as the "tweedy" PCO:

Makin' Hay at the Republican Caucus by Grant Cogswell

I wear a blue Civil War infantryman's hat to my Republican caucus on the backside of Capitol Hill. I'm harkening back to the good ol' days of the GOP -- the good ol' days of 1862. Dubya is the worst presidential candidate in living memory, but unfortunately it looks like he'll be up against Gore in the general election. I show up early and bring along "The Mayor of Casterbridge," the story of a man who makes a stupid mistake that ruins his life. Just as I flip it open, I come across Anna, a 30-year old captain in the Army Reserve, who claims to be a lifelong Republican, but admits that she has never voted for a GOP candidate in a major election. She gives me some insider information: Staffers are on the alert, trying to ward off Democratic interlopers. Anna admits that she herself had to get directions to the caucus from the Democrats down the street.

Soon, our tweedy precinct officer arrives and the event gets under way. Though there are a handful of people in the room, it appears that the only real Republicans are a black couple -- he in his 60s, she in her 30s. As the man argues conservative policy with the more moderate Anna, I ask the man's wife if she's voting for McCain. "Certainly not!" she says.

A young, white, gay boy shows, whom I believe I've seen gothing out on Broadway. He's wearing a polo shirt tonight. Three hipsters come through the door, completely unfamiliar with the process, and it's obvious they plan to vote for McCain. On every unanimous vote of procedure, hipster #1 abstains -- just for the hell of it.

Anna complains that the GOP "survey" included in our voting packets has an anti-immigrant bias (she writes up a resolution to "stop the U.S. from being the world's 911," while I compose one challenging the GOP platform's attacks on transit). Each of us is the only person here from our precinct, so we have the packets all to ourselves. And what packets they are -- two more Tim Eyman initiatives and glossy pics of Dubya.

When we get to choosing delegates, the seven of us pick sides. It looks like this caucus will produce one delegate to the state convention for Bush, and six for McCain. I'm going to be a Republican delegate! My wonderful late Grandma Lucile would be so proud.

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