Big Harry Deal
By Harry Welty
Published March 7, 2002
Holding Your Nose
last Tuesday came and went and you didn't attend your precinct caucus? Tsk, tsk,
tsk! Reading this column will be your penance for turning your back on
Oh, you may be rolling your eyes, but you're still reading. That's a sure sign
of someone who isn't completely confident of their moral superiority.
Up to now you've patted yourself on the back for not sullying your pristine
independence with cheap and tawdry politics. You sound like my Mother! The last
time I ran for the State Senate she told me that she really wished I
didn't dabble in politics. Such a pris!
Politics is not a matter of depravity its just a matter of getting the cookies
you want. The first sophisticated political act I recall pulling off was asking
my Mother for cookies then seeking my Father out for a more satisfactory reply.
It's not all that different from trying to decide which caucus to attend. Who
will give you the cookies you want, be they low taxes, social justice, or a
If you really want cookies, and not a diet, you should caucus with the DFL or
Neither is perfect. In the DFL I'd have to put up with being reviled for being a
bland, white, middle class, do-gooder. In the GOP I only have to put up with
being reviled for not being a bland enough, white, middle class,
Then there's the vegan diet, otherwise known as the Green Party. While largely
white, middle class, and do-gooder, it is not bland. Somewhere between
kumbayah and a tear-gassing, these shock troops for vegetarianism, ecology,
global peace, and organic farms are skittish about mainstream respectability. As
is the case with other third parties, Green candidates are rarely much more than
a spoiler, but even this has its positive side. When the major parties start
drifting too far out into left or right field the third party candidates start
pulling votes. When this happens and the major parties start losing elections
they have to co-opt popular ideas from the upstarts.
It hardly seems worth mentioning the Independence/Reform Party since they didn't
hold a caucus in Duluth. Poor Indies. Their self-absorbed leader has been
unwilling to spend his political capital to build a party. Soon they will take a
flying leap off the turnbuckle, with their Guv, into a Hollywood sunset.
Last Friday representatives of the "four major" political parties were
assembled on Almanac North to talk about precinct caucuses. When the Republican
on the panel said that anyone who disagreed with the Republican platform ought
to find another party to caucus with I took historical umbrage. Party members
may not like having their platforms tampered with but without change
fossilization sets in. Just look at the zigs and zags of the
"conservative" Republican Party from Abe to Ulysses to Teddy to Herb
to Dwight to Ronald. The "liberal" Democrats can boast a similar
Even I have seen breathtaking changes in my lifetime. In 1972 the Minnesota
Republicans had a pro-choice (on abortion) state platform. Had the Almanac North
suggestion held true, pro-lifers would never have caucused with the Republican
Party. Obviously they were not deterred by the platform they encountered but
joined the party and rewrote it. Their appearance in the party invigorated it,
rather like turning over the soil before planting. That was thirty years ago,
however. Change will come again.
Today's Democratic and Republican parties have platforms that only 15 to 20
percent of the electorate feel comfortable with. Fortunately for the rest of us,
candidates generally require a majority vote to get elected. Unless they appeal
to the public at large they will lose and their party's precious platform will
Still reading? If so, you precinct caucus non-attenders can still redeem
yourselves. There will be primary and general elections this fall.
Although someone else will have made the party nominations for you, you get to
make the final decision.
Of course, you could write-in Donald Duck or not bother to vote at all. Even if
you cast a serious vote you might find yourself having to choose between the
lesser of two evils. If you didn't attend your caucus you'll only have yourself
to blame. It's not easy to cast a ballot while holding your nose.
Don't worry though. If you crouch down low enough in the voting booth no one
will see you doing it.
Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at:
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