Sunday, April 17, 2016

104. The Process

The political process revs me up. I love voting. I love participating in the process. I love the rights that have been bestowed on me by being an American citizen. I took that to the next level by participating as a delegate to the DFL Senate District 32 (North Branch area) caucus on Saturday afternoon.

I had done it once before as a member of the college democrats back at Saint John’s. It was a really fun day because a bunch of us from CSB/SJU basically took over the convention and scored a number of primo delegate slots to the congressional district and state convention. We even had one delegate serve as an alternate to the national convention. That whole process was a fun memory that I’ll cherish for a long time.

This time, it was a little bit quieter. I was going by myself. I didn’t have any resolutions that I wanted to have debated and I didn’t try and get a slot at the state convention. (Even though I was elected to the delegate slot when I lived with my parents in the district, I have since moved to a different one, so I thought it might be a little unfair to those who really wanted to go.)

North Branch High School hosted the convention. It was your standard fare: lots of signs for Democrats, buttons, stickers, and other political paraphernalia. The other thing I noticed was that about 80% of the convention looked to be above the age of 60. (I'm 28.)

It didn’t bother me, but it made me upset about everyone in my generation. We don’t show up because we claim the people who represent us don’t actually do anything, yet we don’t show up to the places where we could make change, like caucuses and district conventions, so the cycle continues. It’s so frustrating. There’s a reason people who are in power stay in power: no one challenges them or thinks it's hopeless to try.

The second thing I noticed had to do with the makeup of who was there. It was 100 percent white. The only person of color I saw the whole day was the Diversity and Inclusion officer from the DFL. She was a bubbly, enthusiastic, and personable woman of southeast Asian descent.

I sometimes think it’s unfair to call out places for lack of diversity when they are really less diverse areas, but not a single person of color there? That felt wrong. I don’t know the specific demographics of the area, but I know there had to be at least one person of color in that voting area. Why couldn’t we get them to show? I feel like there are a vast number of communities that are underserved by the political process.

The third thing I noticed was that it takes time. While it was exhausting to be in a school cafeteria on a  gorgeous day, I’m glad it was a bit slow. Democracy is slow and painful. I know we millennials like things done quickly, but I think our founders probably envisioned something like what was going on. There were rules to be agreed on, motions to go through, and time for speeches to be given. It was painful at times, but it had to be done.

I couldn't make the other conventions this year, so I didn't try and be a delegate, but I’m glad I showed up. Too many of us think our political process just involves tweeting and yelling. We have to show up at the places that really matter, too.

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