People who work evenings or long hours during the day are another group that has problems attending the caucuses. While there is a statute in Texas that requires employers to allow employees to take off work to attend caucuses, the reality is that many evening workers miss the caucuses because they do not want to ask their bosses for time off.
One of the reasons for the reluctance to ask off of low wage workers is that they lack power in the workplace. Barbara Ehrenreich addressed the pressures faced by low wage workers in her book, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America“. A low wage worker may be asked to find a replacement for their shift if they want off. While the law prohibits this, someone working a low wage job knows that if they ask off for the caucuses, the next week they may have to ask off again for another personal reason or the week before they may have had to ask off for one reason or another, so their boss may say well you just had off last week.
Other people may not work in the evenings, but they may still have missed the caucuses because they had to get up early and work all day, some doing physically demanding jobs. They could have voted early at their convenience, but they may not have had the energy after a long day to attend a caucus at 7:15 PM that might last several hours. Low wage workers are also more likely to have trouble hiring a babysitter, so that they can attend the caucuses.
People whose jobs take them out of town on caucus night are also not able to attend a caucus.
The popular Texas two-step is usually danced to country music in 4/4 time.
Texas Democrats have their own version of the Texas two-step that is unpopular and undemocratic.
This version of the two-step needs fixin’ before the next big dance is called in 2012.
Unfortunately, the Texas Democrats failed to make any reforms to their dysfunctional primary process when they gathered at their state convention earlier this month.
It had been so long since the outcome of a Texas Democratic primary had any impact on the outcome of a presidential race that the flaws with the party’s two-step primary process went unnoticed.
The early state primary competition has generally settled on a nominee before Texas Democrats had an opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite candidates.
This year, however, contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama was still neck and neck when Texans turned out to the polls for the March 4 primaries.
Unlike Republican voters, or Democratic primary voters in other states, Texas Democrats were required to cast ballots for the candidate of their choice when the polls were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then turn around and convene in precinct conventions, or caucuses, later that evening if they wanted to take full advantage of their opportunity to support their candidate.
This process, which actually is a lot more complicated than it sounds, generated a great deal of confusion and hard feelings on primary night. It also resulted in Clinton winning the popular vote and Obama picking up more Texas delegates once the final tally was determined long after the primary election.
Texas Democrats who voted for their favorite candidate during the day but could not return later that evening to attend their precinct conventions ran the risk of seeing their vote diluted through the extra step of the caucus system.
The purpose behind the caucus system was to increase party participation among Democrats. This year it increased turmoil and feelings of being disenfranchised.
Democratic leaders need to pick one system or the other — just not both.
Saturday, June 21, 2008