County Convention

Posted By on March 30, 2008

“Texas Democrats Waste Everybody’s Time”

.: Yesterday I participated in the McLennan County Democratic Party Convention. I didn’t want to go, but through the chaos and confusion of the caucus on March 4th I somehow emerged as an alternate delegate.

.: Nobody knew what they were doing during the caucus. My friend Hunter told me, “The two people in charge of my precinct had no idea what was going on. I could have taken a crap in my hand, smeared it on the wall, said, ‘That’s how we’re going to elect our delegates,’ and I would have looked knowledgeable and experienced compared to those two.”

.: We were informed via innumerable emails and phone calls that the convention would take place Saturday, March 29, at the Waco High School cafeteria, and that we would register by 11:00 am and start by 12:00 pm. Apparently unaware how big a clusterfuck the caucus was, the people running the convention didn’t realize until the last moment that the cafeteria wasn’t big enough to hold everyone, so they switched it to the appropriately named Waco Convention Center.

.: I arrived at 10:50 a.m.; parked relatively close to the building; stood in line for a few minutes; signed in with my name, address, and presidential preference; grabbed a yellow alternate tag; and sat. For two hours. I found a nice chair in the far back corner of the room — one where I wouldn’t have to move my legs every ten seconds to accommodate an overweight geriatric — but it was not to last. A lady came by after a few minutes to inform everyone that Obama supporters were to sit on the other side of the room; this side was reserved for Hillary people. Had I not listened to her, I would have been exactly like everyone else who arrived after her announcement and sat wherever I pleased.

.: Two hours — nobody did anything. That’s not true: the people in line for registration leaned against the wall, and every five minutes somebody accidentally hit the light switch, plunging the back half of the room into annoying, easily preventable darkness. The people who witnessed the light switch mishap would avoid tripping it in the future. The rest of the line (which snaked throughout the building) could not see the lights go out and were consequently oblivious about what effect their careless leaning might have on others, especially those trying to read.

.: The convention chairman asked us to remain patient while everyone else registered. Every time he approached the microphone people raised their Clinton or Obama signs and cheered. I don’t understand why people bothered bringing signs. Everybody there knew who they were voting for.

.: Well, except for the only delegate from my precinct. She was a Clinton supporter, but we voted for Obama. How that happened, I don’t know. She said at the time that she would carry the vote of the precinct, but the day before the convention she mentioned how the Clinton people called and informed her she could vote however she pleased. I still don’t know how she voted.

.: Finally, after two hours of nothing, the chairman called the convention to order. The rules and tabulation committee were still working on the tally, he told us, but there were other things to do, like present the colors, sing the national anthem, recite the pledge, and join another speaker in prayer.

.: Prayer?! What business does prayer have at a county conve- Never mind that, what did he mean by still working on the tally? What tally? We haven’t voted yet, have we? Turns out, we voted when we signed in. I wasted two hours waiting for nothing, and the convention still wasn’t over. We still had to listen to other speakers talk about stupid pep-rally bullshit. “We might disagree, but we’re willing to work with each other, and that’s what makes us democrats!”

“People sometimes ask me ‘What’s the difference between a democrat and a republican?'” said some old white man. “I want people to be rich. I want people to be rich in spirit as well as rich in health. I want people to be able to do what they want to do. If you want to be rich in wealth, spirit, whatever, I want you to be rich. That, to me, is what makes us democrats!” Replace the last word with “republicans” and you’ll see how mindlessly generic these speeches were.

.: One worthwhile moment of the convention was the speaker who chronicled the development and deterioration of several schools throughout the county. Waco schools really are in trouble, and more attention needs to be brought to their failings. However, I didn’t come to this convention to hear about ailing school districts; I came here to cast a vote. They tricked me.

.: I left for the restrooms after a few more “Yay, we’re democrats!” speeches. I returned to the hall and leaned against the wall. I thought about accidentally hitting the light switch, but an elderly gentlemen inadvertently intervened. He asked me what I thought of the convention so far, and I told him it was a goddamn waste of time.

“I don’t see why we need to do this. Why can’t we just use the results from the primaries?”

“Well,” he said, “you’ve come this far. This way you’ve made your voice heard at least three times.”

.: The procedure made perfect sense to this guy. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary or, you know, anti-democratic. I told him, “I don’t see why we have to vote three times.”

“Well you’re maximizing your vote. Otherwise it’s like buying a full meal, and only eating half of it.”

“I always thought it’d be, you know, one person one vote.”

.: The exchange ended there, because someone at the microphone apparently said something particularly agreeable and cheer-worthy. I wish it had continued:

“Why stop at multiple votes? Why not introduce an obstacle course while we’re at it? Your vote only counts if you can scale this wall, walk that tightrope, run across this line of tires, swing across that mud pit, and do it all under three minutes at four O’clock on a Wednesday morning without anybody telling you where it is.”

.: The truth is these caucuses and conventions add nothing to the electoral process. All the numbers were there in the primaries. And if you can’t make it on election day for the primaries, you can vote early. If you can’t make it to the caucus, your vote is squandered. It’s an archaic, pointless, anti-democratic waste of everybody’s time, and Texas needs to get rid of it.

.: But what can I do besides complain? Any attempt to change the system would have to be made through the system. I couldn’t very well stand up and shout, “I hereby motion to abolish this pointless procedure!” I saw people who live for this stuff. They enjoy a good rabble-rousing over meaningless differences. They can’t wait to nominate their friend for a position that could be easily replaced by a recorder. They see no problem asking other people for money so they can fund a process that does very little besides asking people for money. They don’t think twice about renting an expensive convention hall to host an event that could be carried out in a school cafeteria on a weekend (here’s a hint: you don’t need a big hall if you don’t force the people to wait around for no reason).

.: I can’t imagine the republican conventions are much difference. I have a feeling this kind of attitude is endemic to all political processes. I can’t prove it, but everything I see points to it.

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