My first presidential caucus – Washington state primary 2016

It’s that magical time in our lives when a group of Americans presents themselves to the country in hopes they’ll be chosen as our next President. I have always tried to take politics seriously, at least as seriously as one can take our political system as I think it is important for people to be as informed as possible in how our government works and what it does inside and outside our country. I am guilty of not being as informed as I would like to be, but with this election I am trying to learn more so that I can make a decision in the coming election.

I grew up in California where caucuses aren’t held. Primaries are held to choose a candidate from each party, but those votes are cast in the same way that one votes for anything else, by going to a poll and checking a box on a ballot. I had always heard about other states and how they caucus to choose a candidate for their party’s nomination, but never really knew what what going on. Cassidy and I moved to Seattle four years ago in 2012. At the time Obama was going for re-election, so there was no process of choosing who would run from the Democratic party. It was going to be him versus whoever the Republicans put up. We made sure to get registered to vote as soon as we moved to make sure there wasn’t an issue and we voted by mail as is the process here in King County.

Now that the presidency is open to anyone Washington state goes through a caucus process to choose who the nominee will be for the Democratic party. Cassidy and I had our reservations about going to it, but we decided that since we have the right to vote and express our opinions on the subjects that matter to us it really is our civic duty to go out and put in our vote.

We got to our caucus location on Saturday morning ready to go. By now we have both chosen Bernie Sanders as our choice for the Democratic nomination and most other people there came as a decided voter as well. The awesome part of the caucus process is getting to hear everyone make their point as to who the right candidate is that the party should choose to put forth in the election in November. Both Cassidy and I were surprised by how respectfully everyone was treating each other. When it comes to political debates it is really easy for discussions to get heated and turn into arguments rather than meaningful discussions. People spoke passionately, but remained respectful to everyone and let others say what was on their minds.

Our precinct was a small group and only one person in our group was undecided, though leaning towards Bernie Sanders as their choice. A few people spoke on behalf of each candidate as to why they should be the nominee. Then we made a vote. After the first round others had things to say, but no one was getting swayed one way or the other. From what I could tell this was true in other groups as well. Most people came to the caucus with their choice of candidate and it would take a lot to change their minds. As I heard people talking about different issues I could see that most people have done their homework on each candidate and have chosen the one that speaks to their ideals. Most people in the room were for Bernie Sanders with very few Hilary Clinton supporters. One woman volunteering for Hilary was handing out stickers as she walked around before the caucus began. As most people declined her I could hear her joke how they were such underdogs there.

Our group then made our choice of delegates to represent Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton at the upcoming conventions. Everyone thanked each other for coming out and joining in the process and we headed home. As we walked out I could see lots more people coming to vote in the caucus. It felt good to see so many people coming out to add their voice to the issues. This was the first time voting that I felt like my voice was really a part of the political process. Voting in the past I have felt like such a small piece in a gigantic system. But, getting involved in the process early on along side other members of my community I really felt like my vote counted towards something real.

It was a really awesome experience that I am glad to have taken part in.

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