I made a few calls for the Clinton campaign reminding people who voted in the Texas primary to come out and caucus. Having some election phone bank experience from the ’04 swing state project, I fully expected people to hang up on me. That wasn’t the case. A lot of people were screening their calls, and the minute they heard me say who I was with and why I was calling, they picked up. Some of them had election coverage blaring in the background.
A lot of these people just wanted to talk to somebody, anybody who was on their side. One woman told me she and her husband had been fighting for weeks because they weren’t voting the same. Mostly though, I think they were just happy to hear from a democrat. A real one, not a recorded voice. See, my county is the most republican county in Texas. This may be the only day in their lifetime that their vote in a presidential contest ever actually means something.
That’s a big deal.
For a few weeks now our family has been a little divided. Blane and I broke for Clinton and our son Blane and his wife stayed solid behind Obama.
We made light of it by calling each other up when there was substantial news about our candidates. I’d call Blane and say something like “Vote for Clinton,” and he’d jab back, “O-ba-ma!”
There was never any anger, really, because Blane and I are quite proud of our son for making his own choice and not just going along with who his parents are voting for.
We had a lot of fun being in different camps. I especially liked saying “Yes we can!” in a little kid’s voice. He especially liked sending me poll links showing I was supporting a loser.
Since Blane Jr. is still registered in our precinct, we all got to caucus together. Angela is still registered in her parent’s precinct, so she didn’t get to take part in the family feud.
The big showdown started about 6:30 PM at the local elementary school. We couldn’t enter the building until the last person voted in the primary. The line for democrats coiled in the gym a few times, out the door and a ways down the sidewalk. There were only two voting machines for us. The republicans, on the other hand had several machines, way more than we had, so they didn’t have to wait in line for hours to vote.
The number of machines for each party was calculated by the way people voted in the last election. The republicans got to come out and vote quickly and go home early.
The democrats had to wait outside in the cold. We were all told to get there by 7 PM, when the polls close. It took an additional two hours for people to finish voting in the primary. So, we were out there in a parking lot in the cold for two hours.
The Obama supporters, including my son were on one side, we Clinton supporters were gathered on the other. But still close to each other. I kept calling my son telling him, “It’s not too late!”
But he stayed. I’d guestimate there were about 3,000 people in the parking lot split about half and half. Their side would chant “Yes we can!” and we’d yell, “Yes we will!”
We heckled each other in good fun. “Hey, Obama promised sunshine at the polls!” and “I HOPE it doesn’t get any colder out here!”
And them, “Hillary, pick up that damn phone, the terrists are calling!”
Every once in a while I’d go over to the Obama side to talk to my son. There were a lot of families going back and forth between crowds. I, being so freaking curious would ask people, “You going to vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination?” They said they would. I told them the same, they would have my support.
We finally got out of the cold at about 9PM. Since three precincts were voting, it was pretty full, but well organized. People were confused, they just didn’t understand how the process worked, but no one panicked. I was one of the precinct captains, and I didn’t fully understand how it would all work out either, but in the end, people just signed a paper with their choice and left. Some of us stayed for the actual caucus where the complicated part was. We had to elect chairs, count votes, then use a formula to divide up and elect delegates. It ended at 11PM. That’s 4 hours, 2 standing out in the cold for part of one vote.
Why on earth would someone do such a foolish thing?
Because we knew we were making a difference. For the first time, ever.
And hey, guess what? I got elected to be a delegate and get to go to the county convention on the 30th. Blane Jr. got elected too, but for the other side. The feud continues.
Thinking back about all this, I did not see a single person in a wheelchair at the caucus. The process is not handicap friendly or elderly friendly or people with babies friendly. Anyone working in say, a hospital on the 3-11 shift can’t caucus. Do we want to leave these people out? I don’t.
Our precinct drew up a resolution to end this process and it will be presented at the convention.
Here’s a quote I got in an email from the Clinton campaign after she found out she won three of the four states tonight:
“We’re going to do it for everyone across America who’s been counted out — but refused to be knocked out. For everyone who’s stumbled — but stood right back up. And for everyone who works hard — but never gives up. ”