The tsunami has passed.

March 23, 2008

Now that almost three weeks have passed since the Texas tsunami of precinct caucuses the effects at the precinct and county level have become more clear. The flood of uninitiated voters to the Democratic precinct convention on the evening of March 4th and their astonishment at the lack of accommodations appears to be a transient occurrence. At my precinct the largest turnout for a convention in the past decade and a half was about a dozen folks. The 2004 presidential election brought out 6 and for the 2006 gubernatorial election there was just me. The presidential campaigns that proved so effective in getting over 200 people to the convention this year failed them by not providing information on the mechanisms and moreover failed to get them involved in preparing for the convention. Most were looking for a “drive-by” caucus where they could just show up, sign their preference and drive off. For those who stayed and actually participated the fire of activism has cooled to a few glowing coals. The separation of campaigns from the formal party apparatus is not new, but continues to be a major impediment to social progress. The dissolution of civic organizations from parent teacher associations to bowling leagues has been well documented. The alienation of the electorate from the practice of democracy is still pervasive. I sent a followup email to all the conventioneers who signed in with their email addresses. I offered them a chance to be more involved, to meet  like-minded neighbors and make some real contribution through the local party. The response was anemic at best. With email spam blockers and answering machines in place they return to American Idol as the murmured complaints of “why weren’t things prepared” fade for another election cycle.

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