By Don Heinzman, ECM editorialist—
During these unsettled political times, public confidence in state and national lawmakers is down. The average person who really wants to get involved has one chance to change the country’s direction and its office holders, and that’s by attending their precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 7
Changing the direction and electing someone other than the office holder is not an easy process, but political party leaders maintain it can be done.
Political parties sponsor these precinct caucuses so everyone has an opportunity to become a delegate to their political unit and to vote on resolutions that could become part of the party platform.
A person can attend their precinct caucus if they live in the precinct, are eligible to vote and agree in principle with the political party sponsoring the caucus.
By going to the Secretary of State’s website, and following directions, you can learn where your caucus is meeting. The address is http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=886.
At the caucus, those attending will be electing delegates and alternates to the district and state conventions where candidates are endorsed.
Changing the current cast of office holders who in turn could change the direction of the party would take a wave of disgruntled citizens across the congressional districts and state.
There is little evidence that such a wave of discontent is forming enough to take over election of delegates at the precinct caucuses.
While party leaders say everyone is eligible to attend the caucus and influence the future, odds are stacked against it because the party machinery usually controls.
In the Republican Party, precinct convenors are appointed by the executive committee of the party’s Basic Political Party Unit. The same committee determines the number of delegates at the caucus by using a formula dividing the selected number into the number who voted in the 2010 election.
The DFL party likewise selects the convenors and determines the number of delegates.
The Tea Party, which has gained influence and elected legislators, did not go through a caucus system to gain its power. It started out as a grassroots organization and through social media quickly spread its gospel across the country.
There are, however, stories of prominent office holders who got their start by attending their neighborhood precinct caucus.
Attend the caucus on Feb. 7, be eager to become a delegate, and work through the party system, but chances are you’ll have to work long and hard within the party to make a difference in how Minnesota and the United States are governed.