Sunday, August 10, 2008

Caucus Ban Not In Dem Platform

Caucus Ban Not In Dem Platform

Caucuses won't be banned for 2012 -- at least not in the Democratic Party platform. Last-ditch Hillary Clinton supporters tried to get anti-caucus language into the platform this weekend at a platform committee meeting in Pittsburgh, but failed.

The issue was ruled out of order for the platform and referred to the party rules committee meeting. But supporters of presumptive nominee Barack Obama aren't likely to mess with the caucuses that, starting with Iowa, treated Obama very well.

"Caucuses undermine ... core Democratic values," read the amendment offered by an Illinois Clinton delegate. "Caucuses inherently disenfranchise the elderly, disabled, shift workers, single parents, and others whose circumstance prohibits participation in caucuses." That echoed arguments Clinton herself was using even before Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses. As polls were predicting her third place finish in Iowa, she told a New Year's Day crowd in Iowa City, "You'll be standing up for those who can't be at their caucuses," such as troops and shift workers.

The caucus vs. primary battle continued throughout the nomination process, as Obama won 12 of the 13 states with caucuses. Even in the one he lost, Nevada, he won one more delegate than Clinton due to the geographic distribution of votes.

"Caucuses are inherently unfair," said Conneaut, Pa. waitress Melissa Whitener. "I work in a restaurant. I can't take off a whole shift to go sit in a caucus," she said, though she had managed to travel to Pittsburgh for the platform committee meeting. "We need to all be on the same primary system. Why should 2,000 people (sic) in Iowa have the same say as 2 million in Pennsylvania?"

Actual Iowa caucus attendance was 220,000.

Clinton supporters did get the line, "We have put 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling," into the platform, a line Clinton used in her concession speech that referenced her vote total in the primaries.

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