Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On the precipice of turning 41:

1) Regarding my last post: I was wrong about Denver. All of us who were elected county delegates at Saturday's caucus must attend our legislative district caucus on April 5 and/or the county convention on April 19. Then we attend our congressional district caucus on May 17th. Out of the county delegates, a group of convention delegates is elected. They attend the state convention in Spokane on June 14 and then, of course, the DNC in Denver August 25-28.

At my caucus on Saturday, I was elected precinct secretary and asked to speak on behalf of Obama before being elected one of the county delegates, so I was recording the caucus minutes and discussing with Obama supporters the points we should make and it's entirely possible something got lost in the fray. But I asked a number of detailed questions of those running the show and was under the impression no one was quite sure what the hell was going on. Or if they were clued in, they were unable to elucidate the proceedings.

I still had a number of questions and went to the Washington State Democratic Party web site and as far as I can discern, the info I listed above is correct. I know a whole bunch of writers who tend to vote Democrat and I might corral said scribes and see if all of us can help with the party's written materials. There's no way a button for the state party crab feed should be front and center but the delegates should have to dig around to find what, exactly, we're supposed to do. And I think it's confusing to refer to both county delegates and convention delegates as "delegates", even if the latter is elected from the former. It's sort of like calling prime rib and sirloin steak the same thing because they both come from cow, when really, they're similar but different.

Given the deadlines of my novel and the parameters of my health, I'm not sure if I'm going to try to get elected a convention delegate. I want to go--of course--and am fairly certain one of my editors will assign something in conjunction, but I don't want to end up in a wheelchair with an unfinished novel in order to do so. I've decided to take it day by day: if I'm persistently ambulatory and still writin' well when the congressional district caucus rolls 'round on May 17, I might toss my hat in the ring. We'll see.

[Side note: My condo on Nickerson hasn't sold yet and I'm still registered in that precinct. I'd read that you could "re-register", i.e. update your address and precinct at your new precinct caucus site on caucus day, but so much of what I'd read that week was incorrect, so I decided not to risk it. I caucused at the Coe School on Queen Anne instead of Prospect Church on Cap Hill and while I missed hanging with my new neighbors, it was nice seeing some of my old ones.]

2) What's up with Democrats wringing their hands over the notion of "electability"? Yesterday I read in the New York Times and in the Stranger online two different pieces decrying the impetus to choose a candidate based, in part, on whether she or he can get elected in November. I agree with the larger points: that it's a bit cynical and that it's impossible to predict with utmost certainty what voters will do, particularly this year.

But here's the thing: Democrats haven't won the White House with a significant majority of the popular vote since Carter beat Ford in 1976, and that was in huge part because Ford pardoned Nixon. Clinton didn't win a majority of the popular vote in 1992 or 1996--hey, Ross Perot!--and it left him without a mandate and vulnerable to the Gingrich-led smackdown in 1994. Gore won the popular vote, but just barely, and while it seems clear the Supreme Court decided the outcome, the Florida embarrassment could have been avoided if the esteemed Vice President had won his home state.

So yes, "electability" isn't an ideologically pure notion, but it is an important one. Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry all have one thing in common, you know? I happen to agree with most of Obama's positions--he still hasn't sold me on nuclear energy--and I think he has the best shot to beat McCain, so the electability question isn't a tripwire for me. And no, I'm not naive. I realize I think an African American first-term senator will beat a decorated war hero who's whiter than toothpaste. But I know many life-long Republicans and Bill Clinton voters in several states who are voting for Obama and I think that's significant. No matter what, though, I believe it's crucial to remember how difficult the next nine months will be and that all three candidates have smart, conscientious supporters in their camps.

3) For the most part, being 40 was awesome. The novel, new home, dudes, and donuts. If possible, I heartily recommend living at least this long.

4) And now I'm 41. So far, so good.

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