My First Democratic Caucus

Kristina Kehrer's picture

  • Somerville Caucus 2018
  • Somerville Caucus 2018

Even though I am a Cambridge resident, I tagged along with a friend of mine to the Somerville Democratic Caucus held at the Somerville high school on Saturday, March 3, 2018. For Cambridge residents, the caucuses were held in February.

Being that I am relatively politically aware, I have always been familiar with the word “caucus,” but I had no idea what actually happens at a caucus. There is so much to keep track of with politics, and the political process, that I sometimes get overwhelmed/lazy. I would image that is the case for many people.

The friend I was tagging along with is like a lot of Americans these days, especially women, horrified by the Trump administration, and the Republican rollback of any and all progress this country has made forward on a progressive, human, and environmental agenda. People of all ages are bound and determined to rectify this egregious situation, and there is a part in this play for everyone. The caucuses are a good place to start.

The caucus is where delegates are chosen to go to the Democratic Party Endorsing Convention on June 1st and 2nd in Worcester; where by the delegates will be your voice on which candidates will be on the Democratic ticket for the 2018 election. Simply put, it is about turnout. If you want to be a delegate: show up to your ward caucus, put your name in the hat, give a little speech about yourself, your causes, and the candidate you are most likely to support. It will be neighbors that cast the deciding vote.

Each town and ward is assigned a number of delegates and alternates to elect. The number of delegates is determined by the number of registered Democrats in the town or ward, plus some other factors.”

If you have a candidate that you really believe in, get your friends and family to show up to the caucus, and either become a delegate or vote for delegates who may have already endorsed your candidate for a spot on the ballot.

While at this caucus, I encountered a lot of passionate people who were very articulate about their issues, causes, and candidates and I listened to everyone with an open ear. But unfortunately, I also heard a few things from proponents of a certain candidate that I would have to consider mistruths or even lies, merely based on the logic of the claim. I won’t go into it, but I would advise that you tune-up your BS detector in preparation for the heated battle of a political competition.

Be prepared to practice your signature. Caucuses are also an event where prospective candidates go to get the required amount of signatures needed for a primary run - 150-300 signatures depending on which office they are running for.

If you would like to brush shoulders with the politicians for whom you may have cast a vote, or whose names you know from the press, this is a good place to possibly meet them. I met several news worthy people.

Attending the Somerville Democratic Caucus gave me a sense of which candidates seemed to have a lot of enthusiasm around them, while also giving me a sense of who may be having a tough reelection fight. But that was a microscopic view based on the Somerville residents that showed up to the caucus. In the end, that is how elections are won and lost. Turn out.

As far as who did show up, in this instance, Somerville has what I consider the same problem as Cambridge when it comes to community based meet-ups – the diversity factor was only in age and not so much in ethnicity – other breakdowns in the diversity factor are not easily measured by glancing around, so I can’t speak to that. The room was definitely packed so, there was a modest showing of diversity, but I would say, from what I know of Somerville, there were constituencies who were not represented.

Overall, my take away was this; it was lovely to see democracy in action. And it solidified my personal annoyance with people who complain about the government as if were an uncontrollable behemoth. We are the government. The government is our friends, our families, and our neighbors. Not all of our friends, families, and neighbors are cool, and it is our responsibility to deal with their un-coolness by unseating them. And the way we do that is by voting.

Photos Courtesy of Linda Viens