Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A few critical voices have complained about some of the negative aspects of last night's Colorado Caucus, our ritual every other year since 1912 when the Teddy Roosevelt progressive reforms brought us our current system. Some even call for the elimination of our caucus-assembly system and a return to our pre-1912 ways.

Thomas Jefferson would have preferred that we not have political parties. But he quickly realized that Alexander Hamilton would win every election unless an opposition party was formed. So the two party system that has served us so well for these 200+ years was born. (Unaffiliated voters and 3rd parties have a valid useful place in our system, but it is the two major parties that almost always produce winning campaigns.)

Some say there is no difference between the two parties. This is a sign of health; they are both competing for the majority of voters. Just as supply and demand create an equilibrium price, when the system is healthy Democrats and Republicans create elected government officials who best represent the true will of the people.

The Colorado Caucus is the full flowering of this representative system, but the flowers have wilted in recent decades because of the declining levels of participation and misguided (or devious) party leaders who have tried to bring the system that has been entrusted to their care to an end.

Powerful forces would like to kill the grassroots in Colorado, and return to the powerful elites to their pre-1912 back rooms.

Our caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot is not perfect. It takes more time, some just aren’t able to attend for various reasons, etc. But these shortcomings are more than compensated for by the fact that it gives the common person a strong voice in our government, something the direct primary just does not do.

People who got involved for the first time last night can now use the leverage of the party system to come back in future years and use the leverage of their party to get on the primary ballot with a fair chance of becoming their party’s nominee in the general election. Doing this without the caucus system is much more expensive, out of the reach of most people.

So the question is this: Is strengthening the voice of the common person worth it? I say yes it is. And 60% of the people in Colorado agreed in 2002 when the question was on the ballot and everyone got a chance to voice their opinion. Let’s not be misled now by the whining voices of a few slackers and the manipulation of the elite.

Wake up Colorado! Celebrate the victory of last night’s massive turnout. Let this day mark a new dawning, the rebirth of the true grassroots in Colorado.

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