[R-G] An Idaho Caucus [massive, rip-roaring]
hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Wed Feb 6 07:54:13 MST 2008
Still recovering after a long sojourn at our Bannock Co. Democratic Caucus, up late to watch returns on MSNBC, and having gotten up at 3 am, I may be a little punchy. But I do want to give a few brief, relevant impressions of our caucus experience and observations.
First, I think the Obama people have many good reasons to be pleased and proud at the nation-wide outcome, and I think the future augers well for Barack. Idaho Democrats went 80% for Obama. While I haven't yet gotten the final tally of those who came to our gathering, the number exceeded a thousand -- breaking local caucus records. Several of us from our family got there, relatively early [we thought], but things, already pretty full at the Idaho State ballroom, had already been moved to the larger auditorium. [In time, yet another room was opened in an extension sense.] The line was the longest I've seen in a very long time, and it was obvious immediately that the cold and somewhat snowy weather had discouraged no one. This is Eastern Idaho, heavily LDS, and with a strong organized labor base for the Democrats [UP railroad center, phosphate mining and refining etc] and generally considered pretty Democratic. It was a stronghold of the liberal senator [ousted in '80 by the Reagan wave], Frank Church.
The ISU ballroom was packed -- soon, standing room only. The Obama "side" vastly outnumbered the Clinton camp -- and featured, I should add, many women indeed and many young people. But there were plenty of others on the Obama side as well. The crowd -- and that's almost an understatement -- was universally amiable, many folks knew others, there was an enormous amount of cheering, clapping, even yelling -- at various points. Garb was informal, often Western. Outwardly, things seemed chaotic -- I recalled the old Army saw, "Organized confusion." But things were orderly enough and the structures of organization, first rather dim, surfaced in such a fashion that matters proceeded -- with a few rough procedural jiggles and jags -- in a fairly timely fashion. At no point did anyone seem devoid of enthusiasm. It was truly a fascinating sight.
[The Republicans in Idaho will hold a conventional primary in May. That, I'm sure, will be well-dressed generally, orderly, maybe dull -- at least compared to the rather raucous affair of last night.]
Idaho is a heavily Anglo [white] state. There is a very, very small African American populations, more Hispanics [mostly Mexican in background] but still a very distinct minority. There are substantial local groups of Native Americans, mostly residing on reservations -- but definitely a statistical minority. The Clinton group, from what I could see, had little minority participation -- and, while there may have been a few, I saw no African Americans in that much smaller body. Sitting in front of us were two Black women and, adjoining Eldri was a very elderly white woman whose pro-Obama position was occasionally manifested with surprising energy.
There was a small contingent of Edwards people. If Edwards had not dropped out, he would have done respectably -- but the night would have still been Obama's.
The Idaho Democratic Party has a long and traditional grassroots populist position: Labor, small farmers and ranchers, more recently significant college and university people, many people with solid environmental concerns. And it also represents a deserved wariness of Eastern business and related interests: e.g., mining [mostly now gone], lumbering, big banks, railroads, land speculators -- and political machines from Back East. That populist tradition welcomes constructive government involvement and regulation on behalf of people. Obama is rightly seen in Demo circles as an honorable and open and people-sensitive person. The Clintons are not viewed as that. [ And the Clintons have a long history of hostility toward gun owners -- and Idaho is for sure a hunting state.]
And the War[s] is certainly an issue. Obama is seen as the most dependable force for an end to that/those -- and a creative and constructive force for rationality in the international context. Idaho Dems are wary of the Clintons when it comes to international adventuring.
Idaho remains, in many ways, dominated by Republicans -- a process that began in 1980 and was in part spurred by the anti-gun campaigns of the Clintons. But it has never been deeply so. In the mid-90s, Larry Echohawk, a well known Native attorney, served as state AG. He almost won the gubernatorial race shortly before we came here. Even in recent times, there've been Demo governors. And now, there are cracks in the Republican "hold."
The great scene last night may not please those to prefer to watch, in an ostensibly supercilious fashion, from a lofty distance and denounce the whole U.S. electoral process as a "snare and a delusion." As I have noted, we ourselves have on occasion supported responsible third party endeavors. But the stakes at this juncture -- among them, life and death for many -- are now drawn starkly in this country -- and in many parts of the world now directly affected by the U.S. Beyond that, what we saw last night in this small and still rather isolated Rocky Mountain state, was one hell of a vigorous expression of direct grassroots democracy.
Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear]
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
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