Thursday, January 3, 2008

caucus and effect

Today at work, I learned how the Democratic caucus works in Iowa.

In our cafeteria, we have a big TV that plays CNN all day. We at our table had just had a big discussion where one of the scientists explained how the caucus works, when an anchor on CNN demonstrated the jist with a chess board and chess pieces.

They put everyone together in a big room, and have all the people voting for Candidate X stand in one area, Candidate Y in another area, Candidate Z in another area, and so forth for the rest of the eligible candidates in the party. If the people voting for, say, Candiate Z don't add up to meet a certain threshold of the total vote (I believe it's 15%), then the people who stood in Candidate Z's little corner are forced to choose another candidate to side with, and then go stand with them. This process is continued until the only candidate parties remaining are those who were able to garner 15% of the vote or more.

Maybe you knew all this. I did not.

I don't know what class I supposedly learned that in. Eighth grade Social Studies? Eleventh grade American History? Twelfth grade Government? It was probably the last one, but I pretty much did crossword puzzles all through that class (No offense, Mr. Wiard. Your class was the easiest A I ever got, and I loved you for it. A sweet oasis, if you will, in an otherwise stressful and harrowing desert of a senior year).

Another thing -- we did this in elementary school. And by "this," I mean caucusing.

I have a distinct memory of some silly activity we did once in elementary school. They put my whole grade together in the gymnasium, and they had us form big clots of blue-collar larvae by separating us based on the most innocuous things... like what kind of toothpaste we used. "All the Crest kids over here, Colgate kids over there, and you Aquafresh kids, you can just cling together way over there."

Really, that's what they did. They made us separate ourselves, even. The moderator would yell something like "FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL!" and we would have to shout out our answer and wander around the gymnasium until we found the other kids who were yelling out our answer. "Cocoa Pebbles!" "Lucky Charms!" And I believe that for one of those activities, they picked off the smaller groups of obscure choices (Grape Nuts?) and made them conglomerate with the larger groups.

Why didn't they say something then? "Hey kids, this is actually how we pick who gets to run for President of The United States."

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