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Democrats Working For Blue Wave
March 25, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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2018 Elections Won't Win Themselves

Turnout was thinner than expected at the 2018 caucus of the Washington State 46th district Democrats on Saturday, March 24th, in Seattle. It was my first Democratic caucus, so I could only compare it with Green Party conventions and other political meetings I have attended throughout my life.

My first surprise was that State Representative Gerry Pollet was checking people in. Well, it is an election year, but I like Gerry and seeing him take the time to do this mundane work created a good impression.

This is, after all, the 46th, arguably the most progressive legislative district in the State of Washington. The caucus was a good time to meet all our state-level representatives. Later Gerry would give a speech, as would state representative Javier Valdez, state senator David Frockt, state supreme court justice Steven Gonzales, and Seattle City Council member Deborah Juarez.

Javier Valdez at 46th Democrats caucus

Javier Valdez, State Representative, listens with other caucus members

They all gave good speeches, emphasizing progressive values. In some cases they gave insight into the difficulties in getting progressive legislation passed in Olympia. For readers from out-of-state, I would summarize by saying Washington was a largely rural, conservative, and Republican state not that long ago. Only last year did the Democrats gain a majority in the legislature, a one-vote majority. The hope is the 2018 election will result in a Blue Wave that will give a stronger Democratic and possibly even progressive majority in the legislature.

One of the problems with asking people to meet to take part in Democracy is that most people don't like meetings. I understand that. The other thing is there was not much to fight about. In 2016 much larger numbers attended the presidential primary caucuses where Bernie Sanders supporters expressed their anger at women and moderation against Clinton supporters (I was not there, that's just what I heard.) There was no evidence of such a divide on Saturday. But there was a fair amount of time deciding how to decide things.

Groan. I have attended meetings of anarchists, leninists, libertarians, all sorts of single issues groups, and the Green Party, and nothing kills most people's interest like procedural rigmarole. I have been attending the regular monthly meetings of the 46th, and they are pretty well run. I don't mind the occasional objection from the floor about procedures. But I thought the Democrats had worked all that out long ago. In short, nope. Considerable time was spent explaining how the meeting would proceed, and arguing about it. Part of the problem was the rules required a certain number of votes to pass, and with just 71 voting attendees, meeting those thresholds would be difficult or imposssible.

Fortunately the sometimes contentious issue of who would represent the 46th at the Washington State Democrats convention, this year to be held in Wenatchee, fell by the wayside as there were barely enough contenders to fill the slots. In talking to a few of my fellow non-powerful, grassroots members at lunch, the feedback was three days east of the Cascades in a non-Presidential year was not much of a lure.

So most of the convention time was taken up by going over the proposed platform. It is a progressive platform, filled with liberal truisms and many issue-group bullet points. It is little different from Green Party platforms I used to work with, only not as wordy. There was not much fighting over the proposed draft, which I would attribute to the prior work done by the platform committee. Having seen segments of the Green Party platform argued over for large fractions of an hour, sometimes over the placement of a comma, I found the experience to be much less bad than it could have been.

The only thing that approached a fight was over the word "fight" itself. In the introduction there is a short laundry list of the most basic issues (e.g. "For equal rights for all"), prefaced by the line "We fight:"

A proposal was made to substitute the word "rise" for "fight." This from the non-violence faction, I suppose. After all, we are against violence. There was a brief discussion. The motion to substitute "rise" for "fight" failed 18 to 21. I voted to keep fight, but I might have voted for a different substitution. "Rise" did not make much sense.

Saturday was also, of course, the March for Our Lives event. It was nice to see the normally apolitical out in the streets. I suspect many people preferred the fun of chanting with a large crowd over a meeting that would remind them of working.

The caucuses around the state had been scheduled long ago (and spaces for them rented). The work of the Democratic caucuses is necessary work. Assemblyman Valdez, for example, worked with this local caucus for a couple of decades before getting into the legislature, where he can work for a reasonable interpretation of what the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" is. Normally I'm for reasonably modern interpretations of the Constitution, but in this case I'll go with an Original Constitution argument: the right to bear muzzle-loading muskets.

All of our lives are at stake in this era from a variety of directions: overpopulation, resulting food insecurity, violent nutcases, war, and, in general the program of the Republican Party.

We need to win elections; we need to Vote for Our Lives. Thanks to all the volunteers who made the 46th Democrats caucus possible.


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