I walked into the Nevada caucus a reluctant first-timer, and walked out a county delegate.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to the caucus, to vote, or to support my candidate. I did. In fact, you might say I have never supported a candidate more. I supported Hillary in 2008, and I support her now. I think there is no greater proof how much this country needs its first female president than that a “great male hope” has arisen in both elections in which Hillary was considered the “frontrunner.”
It was the noise I was dreading, and the pointless sitting. Having seen clips of caucuses during election coverages past, I feared hours and hours of both of those things. As it turned out, it was actually pretty quiet. Though, the sitting really was pointless and the chairs were designed for junior high school students and really not all that well. More than twenty years out of 8th grade, I think I finally figured out why I’ve had back issues for as long as I can remember.
At least, it was an English/composition classroom, and I kind of dug the vibe the place was throwing down.
A lovely sentiment. And with puppies!
Thing was, though, we were not all in this together.
Same shitty seats, same impatience, it seemed, at first, as if we were. Except, of course, for those three Republicans who changed parties for the day to vote against Hillary. We know that’s why, because they proudly proclaimed the fact, and rolled their collective eyes when the precinct captain said either Democratic candidate could clean up money in politics.
As for the rest of us, there we all were, Hillary supporters sitting next to Bernie supporters. I even moved from my original seat so the people wearing the most Bernie gear in the place could have chairs next to each other. Because they were people, and an election is an election, and flesh and blood trumps ideas. Always. If they don’t, you need new ideas.
Once back in junior high English, we had to wait more than an hour to get to the actual voting part. Because the caucus system inarguably sucks. During that time, a couple of Sanders supporters got tired of waiting and left. The rest of us sat it out. Hey, this is what democracy is all about, right? Leaving the house to go to a place to exercise your constitutional right and be totally inconvenienced?
We were all equally inconvenienced for the cause.
Then, the vote came. The precinct captain told us to check our chosen candidate, and we turned our forms over to the Clinton and Sanders secretaries for the count.
Final tally for the district?
Total voters: 37
“That can’t be right,” the most outspoken Bernie supporter declared, and started to immediately count heads. “Thirty-nine,” he said. “Who didn’t vote?”
“There are a couple of visitors. Relax,” another guy said. And it was true. People had just said they brought people with them from out of state.
“If you don’t want to be a county delegate, you can go,” the precinct captain announced when the tally was marked, and half the room was up and out of the place like rockets. The half that supported Bernie Sanders.
Except for one woman. A woman about our age, or a couple years younger, was like, “Shouldn’t we get the delegates first?” Literally the only Bernie supporter who did not immediately gun for the door, she had to pull two guys back in to get the three Sanders delegates for county. Including the guy who was so sure the vote was wrong.
They had no alternates.
Meanwhile, on the Hillary side of things, the number of supporters who stayed was making it a difficult decision for the woman who volunteered as secretary. Everyone wanted to go and support Hillary at the county level, and the secretary really wanted a spot for herself. In the end, there were four delegates, four alternates, a couple of disappointed people, and one woman who didn’t “need to be a delegate”, but just wanted “to see the entire process.”
Bernie supporters get a lot of credit for being “passionate,” for being forward-thinking, for wanting to change a broken system. But loudest and most adorned in t-shirts and buttons does not mean most passionate. Nor, as became clear in that room, does it mean most dedicated.
On our way out of the school, feeling pretty good about scoring our county delegate spots and going to support Hillary in a larger arena, we heard a young woman who was working our room ask her male friend/partner/whatever about the final count.
“Eighteen Sanders, nineteen Clinton,” he told her.
“Really. So, if those two people had stayed, we would have won?” she responded. “Well, Sanders supporters have lives.”
Then, when we got home, we saw the footage of Bernie’s supporters booing Hillary’s speech. Again.
I know –
NOT ALL BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTERS.
But, for those of you who believe Bernie is some kind of godsend, that he is the only way to a better future, or that he is getting shafted so the political system can go about business as usual, all I can say is this –
You do not have to be AGAINST something to be FOR something. And I really hope the snark and feelings of superiority will change this country in all the ways you want.