Let me begin by saying that it was not my car in the parking lot which sported the "W" sticker. I learned my lesson early in the first go-round, thank you very much.
For anyone who has ever wondered how one living in the good old U.S. of A. could become disillusioned with the idea of democracy and/or the election process, I invite them to look no further than their county party convention. However, "invite" might be the wrong word; "condemn," maybe. Or "suffer." Yes, suffer, for that is exactly what I did for a little under six hours yesterday morning and afternoon at the Guadalupe County Democratic Convention.
Way back on Texas Primary day, I made the somewhat foolish mistake of signing up to be an alternate to the convention. With but two days remaining until the convention, and no word from anyone about my required presence at the convention, I presumed I was "out of the woods" and made plans for Saturday, including a ride with SAW, as well as dinner and a hockey game with N---, S---, and K---. Come Thursday, though, I got a phone call. And an email. After a return phone call, where I was assured all would be wrapped up within four hours; I would be finished by 2 o'clock. It is with this assurance in mind that I set out Saturday morning to perform my civic duty. I should have known by the overflowing parking lot at the Lion's Hall down the road that this would not end well.
By 9:15, I was signed in as an alternate and seated in the hall, waiting for the show to get going. A cursory glance at the agenda revealed that my 2:00 PM time frame was off by an hour; if all went well, we'd be out around three o'clock. All was not going well, as semi-organized chaos ruled supreme in the lair of the Lion's. Microphone problems and other setup issues were resolved relatively quickly, and, at 10:03, the county chairperson began introductions and a series of hackneyed political rhetoric. Shortly after, the chair admitted he was stalling for time because roll call for delegates had not been remedied, so he introduced a few of the county candidates for local positions: one constable and one precinct chair. The former proved why an outline or some form of organization of thoughts for public speaking is a good thing by rambling on for better than ten minutes about his own history and a non-profit organization he's established in the county seat. All I really got out of why he would make a better constable was that he's established an NPO, is a veteran, and is younger than the current constable. Yes, younger. Well, shucks. No wonder there was such a dynamic turnout for the Democratic party this year: The presidential candidates on their side of the fence are younger than that of the Republican. Heck, I'm sure Clinton & Obama combined are younger than McCain. But, I digress.
The second candidate kept things mercifully short, acknowledging she did not have much to say, simply asking for votes; guess she was running unopposed. Surprise, surprise.
Two-and-a-half hours after arriving, it is determined that I am to be bumped up to a delegate. Why it took them two-and-a-half hours to determine this is beyond me, for none of the @#(%* delegates from my precinct bothered to show up; only alternates did. Because of this, three precincts wound up being combined in order to get some predetermined number of folks to vote for delegates. This took another hour, another thirty minutes to go outside and determine who would be delegate to the state convention, who would be alternate, and then develop & implement strategies to ensure the delegate guaranteed to vote for the candidate that our "side" wanted would win the precinct vote. Sounds a lot like cheating, and, in a way it was. I felt like such a whore for allowing myself to be used as such but I just wanted to get it over with. Ironic, that, the night before, N--- & I had watched Goya's Ghost, which used the backdrop of the latter days of the Spanish Inquisition (and subsequent days & effects of the French Revolution -- egads! will I ever be rid of that blasted subject?) to tell its story, part of which focused on what people will do to stop pain. And that was me: I just wanted the pain to stop and get on with it.
Precincts successfully divided over the candidate & delegate selection, we rejoined the rest of the delegates and began voting on resolutions to be put before the state convention. After a handful of resolutions (there were some twenty or thirty requiring voting), I excused myself and made for home. I'd had enough. Yeah, I'm pleased as punch to call America home, and the country has been good to me, but I just can't help but feel we, the citizens, have had the proverbial wool pulled over our collective eyes. Even at the local level, power rests in the hands of those who, literally, play the system and have the time to do so. Most are white men; even more are retired. And the masses remain mute for no better reason than to not want to rock the boat. Smile, nod, and pray that it'll all work out in the end.
Speaking of the end, this is the end of this one. Thanks for reading.//d