Washington 48th LD Caucus — April 17, 2016
Jeff Handley

I was there as well … as a Clinton alternate. I was also in the alternate limbo past when they read all of the names and somehow I didn’t become an alternate despite only 2 delegates out of 5 from my caucus being present (and I verified that the others didn’t show up). I also bolted out when they announced they still didn’t have enough, mostly on the Hillary side, and finally got my blue card for the 1st Cong District. And I even got a blue card initially and then they came and took it back. But I be to differ with some of the points and most of the claims of bias above. My perspective point by point to the above:

1–10. Was it disorganized? Yes. Don’t like it, volunteer to help. The Sanders campaign sent someone to herd all the Sanders alternates and make sure they got promoted. He even disrupted the proceedings WITHOUT being recognized, just shouting repeatedly “Sanders alternates over here”. Unstated was “Hillary alternates get lost”. It would have been a lot more persuasive to shout “Point of order, Mr. Chairman. The Sanders alternate the line is here. Clinton alternates, you should organize yourself a line too.” Unless of course you’re hoping that we just leave the caucus and also stay home in November.

15–16. The guy didn’t make himself chairman by fiat. He seemed to know what he was doing and having herded cats as a precinct caucus chair I was extremely happy to have him volunteer and to accept him although at that point I couldn’t vote. So were almost all of the Clinton delegates including the ones in the back like me and most of the 9th district Sanders delegates.

19. On the Hillary side of the 1st district in the back we could hear just fine. Possibly because we kept our mouths shut. I do agree that the alternates in the hall and outside couldn’t hear and I and a woman who I believe was a Sanders alternate circulated and brought back updates to the sitters in the hallway. This woman also volunteered to help collect slips as delegates left so that alternates could be slotted in, speeding up the work of the official volunteers. I informally explained to people waiting to ask questions that running for the CD caucus meant you were signing up for another afternoon of fun and took a few of them (Sanders people too) and showed them where the signup table was for their CD, thereby offloading the official volunteers to do real work. There was NOTHING keeping you from volunteering ON THE SPOT.

20–23. This was all done precisely by Robert’s Rules of Order and the Sanders delegates exploited this technique later (see below).

30–32. The rules are pretty simple and fair. They seat the delegates who show. Then they seat alternates for those who don’t show up, apparently male for male and female for female so that’s probably why I couldn’t be seated for my precint’s absent female Clinton supporters. But I got in eventually, I got to help a bit, I learned something about real participatory democracy. What’s your beef? If you want everything perfectly scripted then go to a Donald Trump event, just not as a protestor. OK, that was a joke.

33–38. You were one of the first people there. You should have signed up to make the speech. But like me you were disenfranchised. I wasn’t thrilled with the content of the Clinton speech because I think there are significant differences between the candidates but I’m not bitching about it. I am glad no additional speeches were allowed because at my precinct caucus we had Bernie supporters speaking twice and going over time and when we finally cut off debate not a single person had changed their minds. You lost nothing because of a bad speech.

41–70. This is a pretty accurate recital of what happened minus the motivation. Except #70, for which let me assure, you had a blue card, you were a delegate and you had just as much vote as anyone else in your caucus. Read on to see why.

Now let me give you the perspective on the Hillary side. Half our 1st district sub-caucus was so steamed they insisted on talking about before we got down to selecting CD delegates so we put it in the minutes of our sub-caucus that we were pissed about how the Bernie CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIVE orchestrated the packing of our caucus. Basically, what happened is that the volunteers were simply anxious to get the final report approved ASAP because that would freeze the ratio of delegates to be elected for the next stage (the CD) and let them figure out the exact counts for the 2 districts and 2 campaigns (2 * 2 = 4 counts, plus male/female). Any alternates seated after that would be allowed to vote but wouldn’t affect the ratio. Sort of like you move to a new state and you get to vote for Congress but until the next Census you aren’t counted for purposes of drawing the district. Your vote still counts!

On the other side the Bernie campaign rep mentioned above was trying to pack in as many alternates as possible so as to skew the ratio and so the Bernie side voted down this “call the question” motion (not the one to stay past 5:00 PM, but the one to just finalize the number of delegates to be selected by each of the 4 caucuses). This motion was stretched on and on with nonsense questions, somebody in my Hillary caucus even claimed Bernie delegates were out in the parking cell phoning in alternates from nearby. When at point 65 it was made clear that the ratio would favor Sanders and that only a handful of empty Sanders slots remained but many Clinton spots remained empty, the question was immediately called and the Sanders delegates voted for it. Sure enough when the numbers were finally counted the Hillary caucus in 1st CD lost a delegate.

Bottom line, my Hillary caucus was rat-fucked out of a delegate to the CD by the Bernie campaign but this fall I suppose some guy from Bernie for President may be calling me to ask for a donation. I’ll remember this caucus when that happens. But I did have a lot of fun and it was educational to see democracy in action.