From the Secretary of State's site:
Washington's presidential preferential primary, formerly scheduled for March 2, 2004, has been cancelled by action of the Washington Legislature and Governor (House Bill 2297, signed into law Dec. 9; visit the Washington State Legislature web sitefor the text). County and District caucuses are scheduled during February, March and April.
Okay, got that- No primary here. We are having a Caucus on Saturday, February 07, 2004, but I'm not sure how that works and why it matters if you aren't in Iowa. Something I found on the web (but can't attribute now) says:
"Although the caucus was the original method for selecting candidates, it is now the least popular, with only 14 states and Washington, D.C., participating in them. The other 36 states hold primaries. Although both select delegates, the process of the caucus and primary are radically different. The caucus requires voters to show up at polling locations where they will listen to speeches and debates sometimes lasting for hours."
Okay, got it- even if the caucus "counts" like a primary towards deciding who goes against Bush in November (and I'm not sure that it does), I'm not committed enough to participate anything political that "lasts for hours".
So why do Democrats make the baby jesus cry?
A nice elderly woman campaign volunteer came by today to talk to me about...Dennis Kucinich! In the last local election I voted in a few months ago, no one came to my door beforehand. Not one school board candidate, monorail board member, port commissioner, city councilman...NO ONE. These were are candidates that were already on the ballot (some in races that were polling neck-and-neck) and conceivably could win and affect my quality of life in Seattle in substantial ways.
So, I didn't talk to the woman, as I was in the middle of painting the kitchen, but I took her flyer. Later though, I wondered, why is she walking around West Seattle pestering Democrats (or is she going door to door pestering everyone)? We have no Primary this year. Iowa has a caucus on January 19. Unless you are Dan Savage, Seattlelites do not generally vote in the Iowa Caucus.
After Iowa is NH on 1/27, and then on February 3 (I think this is Super Tuesday?) AZ, DE, MO, OK and SC have primaries and NM and ND have caucuses). Then on February 7, should I attend the caucus, and only then, will it matter what opinion I, a Washington Democrat, have about Dennis Kucinich.
If I were this woman volunteer, I'd be using the internet to pester people in those states first. I suppose there's a snowball's chance in hell that Dennis might pick up some delegates in the 6 primaries (and 3 caucuses, if those even count) that come before Washington's, but I'm thinking Dennis will be left on the cutting room floor with Al and Carol long before I have a chance to vote for him (assuming I'd even want to).
This problem with this Dennis Kucinich volunteer applies to lefties and Democrats in general lately (or so I've observed): the idea that doing SOMETHING, however inane and futile, in support of your candidate/ideals is better than "picking your battles" or conserving your energy. Even assuming that Kucinich could get the nomination (stop laughing, shoutingboy), having volunteers working Washington State 3 weeks before the caucus seems premature. Maybe if we were having a primary (which we're not), 3 weeks is right, but even then it seems too soon to me. By the time we have our caucus, I'm guessing it will be apparent who the nominee will be, and it won't matter who we vote for.
I wish this woman would have put her "walking around your neighborhood pestering people about politics" energy into stumping for Seattle City Councilwoman and Big Ole' Lefty Judy Nicastro in November, who lost to a little old lady newspaper Gossip Columnist. The cynic in me says that once Kucinich loses the nomination (and loses spectactularly), she'll put away her clipboard and never walk a precinct again. Which is a shame, because I'd like to see people like her out in force in October, when it actually matters.
*I've been a registered Democrat since 1988, so I can say this.