Think of it this way. It will be interesting. It will be different. It could be a free date night. It will give you something to tell your kids about at dinner. Hey — it will give you something better than “I need Diet Coke!” to tweet or post on Facebook.
I’m talking about attending your caucus meetings, of course, and I know the word is off-putting. It sounds boring. It’s the liver and onions of political words, and you need another meeting like you need your dishwasher to stop working.
But this isn’t just another meeting. This is your chance to hear what your neighbors think is important, maybe for the first time. Yes. You can express your opinions, too, but you don’t have to. You can just listen and then vote. Vote for the person who will represent you. With only 10 or 20 or fewer people in the room, your vote has never mattered more. Wouldn’t it be fun to have your vote count in such a meaningful way?
“The caucus system works if people show up,” Dixie Huefner, chair of the communications committee for Utahns for Ethical Government, said on “A Woman’s View.” “What has been happening is very few people from either party show up. You select your delegates for the state conventions. Those who feel most intensely show up, and the big moderate middle tends not to. That is seen as a big problem because this is meant to be government at the grassroots level. It’s critical that people wake up to the system and show up!”
Dixie is right, of course. It’s critical. So are colonoscopies, but a lot of us don’t get them.
(“Amanda, you’re not suggesting . . .”
“No, of course not.”)
“We find this in public health, too,” Andrea Jensen, environmental health educator with the Utah County Health Department explained, “the apathy. We offer public classes, and people don’t come.”
There is apathy at the front end of the process, but not apathy at the back end. More than 80 percent of us have not, before this year, showed up to our caucus meetings, but we sure complain about the quality of our elected officials, their decisions, the effect those decisions have on our lives. We don’t hesitate to roll our eyes, cry “throw the bums out,” wonder how someone like that could be in office.
I’ll tell you how. You didn’t show up to your caucus meeting, and the delegate who was elected without you there voted for a candidate you don’t believe in, leaving you apathetic about the general election and cast in the role of permanent complainer.
Aren’t you bored with that role? Aren’t you done with the role of complainer now? This week we have a chance to try on a different role, the one we were meant to play — participant.
“Do young people show up less to their caucus meetings?” asked Molly Daunt, executive producer for KSL 5 News Today.
“Yes,” Huefner answered. Daunt is a 30-year-old woman who, probably not unlike many voters, particularly in her age group, does not identify strongly with either party. What about this group? What if you want to be involved at the grassroots level, but you don’t think of yourself as a Democrat or a Republican? What then? There is no caucus for independents.
“You can change your mind and go to one one year and one the next,” Huefner offered, “and it’s meant to be a conversation where you can find out what your neighbors think. You should ask the delegates why they want to be a delegate.”
Huefner’s advice reminds me of advice my father has given me for the whole of my life whenever I struggle with a decision. “This is not the last decision you’ll ever get to make,” Papa would say. Yes. You go to the Republican caucus this year. You vote for a delegate, and if for some reason that doesn’t feel right to you next election season, you can go to the Democratic caucus and vote for a delegate, or vice versa, and do it all again the time after that.
We can always change our minds. It would just be tragic for us not to use them at all, and then blame those who did. Politics was not meant to be a spectator sport. Super Tuesday is not like the Super Bowl in that regard. I learned that after spending the last week in Ohio. From the cab drivers to the hotel desk clerks to the waitresses to the people I met in the airport, they got it. At least many of them did. They vote. They have opinions, which often differ from their children’s opinions and their spouse’s opinions, and they share them.
This is our beautiful democracy.
So, see you this week? There might be cookies.
Amanda Dickson co-hosts Utah's No. 1 rated morning show, "Utah's Morning News with Grant and Amanda," on KSL Newsradio. Amanda also hosts the award winning program "A Woman's View," heard Sunday mornings on KSL.