The Caucus Circus

By the time you read this, Super Tuesday will be a thing of the past.  But, since this was my first time participating in an election that wasn’t directly for the next President, I thought I’d share some first-timer experience.

Yes, that’s correct.  I am…um…old enough to have participated in many elections, and have never before exercised my right to check boxes in a primary, caucus, or any other non-general election.

Now, before you go flogging me with the judgement whip – let me explain.

First, I’ve only lived in this state for about 10 years.  In my prior state, I wasn’t ALLOWED to vote in the primaries, because I’m not affiliated with any political party.  I spent most of my adult life in a state that shut out those of us not willing to provide external support to one of the two major players in this twisted, broken game we call “politics.”

And why don’t I align myself with a party?  Because parties are supposed to be fun, with friends, dancing, music, and great munchies.  They’re NOT supposed to be some twisted version of Satan’s Zoo, where all the monkeys hoot and snort around their territory while flinging virtual dung at each other.  We innocent observers stand at what we hope is a safe distance – we know the whole thing stinks, yet we’re unwilling to intervene because we might end up getting a steaming, grain-laden fecal pie right in the kisser.

So yeah, if THAT is what political “parties” are like, I think I’ll be a hermit and sit at home on the couch, eating popcorn and NOT dodging poo and NOT affiliating with either group of classless Neanderthals.

I suppose I have that in common with our esteemed former Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura.  (My dad and my brother were totally into WWE, back when it was WWF – we watched as religiously as we went to Mass – and I didn’t live here when he was Governor, so he’ll always be Jesse “The Body” to me.)

That, and these impressive guns:

Jesse

Jesse The Body’s guns (image from pro-wrestlers.com)

gunsofsteel

My Guns of Steel, yo.

It’s like we’re twins.

Anyway, he’s a bit more…well, you can view his thoughts on the whole mess here, if you’re curious.   But suffice it to say I’m not the biggest fan of the whole political machine, either.  Normally, I happily stick my head in the sand and ignore it all until it comes time to vote for President, at which time I try to pick the least unpalatable option.

This is no easy feat.  It’s much like choosing which poison to drink.  Death by suffocation or severe intestinal distress? 

This year, though, was a little bit different.  While I haven’t yet decided which of the current frontrunners is least likely to force me to flee to a deserted island*, I did know that there was at least one candidate I wanted to push out of the running.

*I used to say “move to Canada” – but that shiz is FREAKIN COLD YO.  So no.

When I first heard that Trump was running for President, I (and, I suspect, much of America) was amused.  Initially, it wasn’t a terrible thing, really.  Since he’s a personality of pop culture, he got a lot of people paying attention to politics that couldn’t be bothered with it all in the past.  Let’s face it, if you’re of the can’t-miss-The-Bachelor, Kardashians-are-fascinating** set, there isn’t much in American politics that likely interests you.

**For the record, I don’t care about either of those, OR politics, because boring.

But once the “You’re Fired” guy runs for office?  THINGS JUST GOT INTERESTING.

Trump is unabashedly and decidedly different. He’s not your mother’s politician.  He’s bold, he’s brash, and he’s saying a lot of things that a lot of people want to hear.  He made politics entertaining, which made it interesting to those of us who’d rather do yard work or go to the dentist than follow politics.

But we all knew that this was just a role he was playing.  Right?   The man’s not a politician.  HE’S A  FREAKING CARICATURE. He’s only making a statement. He can’t REALLY want to be President.  Eventually, he’ll do the right thing and bow out.

Right?

RIGHT?

?????!!!!!!?!?!?!?!! @#($*@#($@

COME ON, AMERICA.  What in the exact hell is happening here?  You DO realize that this walking satire might ACTUALLY have a shot at leading the nation in a few short months?

<insert collective “oh shi@($@#$” moment>

And you know what else totally puzzles me?  Trump has a HUGE following…but I have yet to meet a person that admits publicly that they’re voting for this clown. He’s like the most popular politician that NO ONE will admit they support.

ZOMG.  TRUMP IS THE WAL-MART OF POLITICS.

(You know how THAT is, right?  When you’re mingling in your social circle, everyone is singing the praises of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and how they only buy free range quinoa and antibiotic-free tofu and would NEVER EVER support Evil Corporate Giants and their dirty High Fructose Corn Syrup profits.  But if you peeked into their pantries, I suspect the contents would Equate to their Great Values coming from you-know-where.  It’s the biggest retail company that NOBODY SHOPS AT.  Mysterious.) <cough>

Anyway.  As an Independent in this state, I can participate in either party’s caucus, as long as I agree to only participate in one or the other.  I also have to have voted for that party at least once before, and generally agree with stuff they support.  (I assume if you don’t really care about either party, that counts.  School of Close Enough gave me a C.)  So I thought it might be a good time to use my one small voice at the state caucus to vote thusly:

Team Not Trump

Image:  Imgur

So off to the Republican caucus I went, to cast my vote for Not Trump.

The process started at 7.  I showed up at 6:30 so I could sign in and figure out what I was supposed to actually DO.  And I’m glad I did, because the place was a flippin’ madhouse.  (You’d think Prince came home to visit or something.)  I wedged my truck into a questionable half-space between another car and a lamppost, and headed inside.

By this time, it was 6:42, and from the end of the rather formidable line, I heard “we’re out of forms already.”  Even though this state has the highest voter turnout, they simply weren’t prepared for the flood of people wanting to have a say this early in the process.

Eventually, we all got directed to different rooms, separated by “precinct.”  (My precinct was green on the map.  Thus begins and ends my knowledge of precincts. ???)

Once I found my room (since I’m still in my work heels, OF COURSE it was the furthest one from the door) we all had to sign in.  They wanted my name, address, phone number, and email address.  They got my name, my signature, my address, and a dirty look.  (When you’re an independent, EVERYONE wants a piece of you come election time.  Why make it easy?  COME FIND ME BRO.)

There was one more spot on the form to complete….I was asked to “initial this box if you’re voting in the next election.”

I took a look at the box the volunteer was pointing to.  It said, “Voting GOP Next Election?”

Waitwaitwait.

“I only initial this if I’m voting Republican, then – not if I’m just planning to vote, right?”

The volunteer confirmed this.  “Right.  Are you voting Republican for our next President?”

What I wanted to say:  Well, that depends.  BUT CERTAINLY AND MOST DEFINITIVELY NOT IF YOU CLOWNS PICK TRUMP.

What I actually said:  “I’m…still undecided.”

He then gave me a name tag with my first name printed on it.  I stuck it on and watched a few others sign in.  Turns out that if you ARE voting GOP in the fall, you get a red dot on your name tag.

 

Red Color Coding Dot Labels 3/4&quot; Round .75 Diameter Inventory Code Stickers - 500 Per Roll

Image:  Amazon

Out of fifty or so caucus attendees in my little room, guess how many weren’t marked with a red dot?

C’mon.  Guess.

I remember scanning the room, my eyes locating red dot after red dot, one affixed to every. single. name tag on every. single. person.  Every last ever-loving one of ’em was claiming to vote Republican, no matter what.

Except moi.

That was a solo I wasn’t planning on singing.  But I grabbed the mike and ran with it.  The Scarlet Lemming, I ain’t.

(But seriously.  Really?  REALLY??!?? Even if it’s TRUMP?  I judge you, Red Dot Society.  I.  JUDGE.  YOU.)

Hell toupee:

Now it was time to get down to business.

We opened up with the Pledge of Allegiance (a nice touch, although someone needs to remind people to take their hats off.  Do they not teach this in schools anymore?)

Next, after “electing” the emcee  (who probably has a more official title that I can’t recall), a secretary, and two vote counters, the leader emcee dude read a statement from each of the candidates “in the running.”  YAWN.  No surprises there.  I’m sure your mothers all think you’re as fabulous as you say you are.  I’ll admit it was really difficult to refrain from playing a few rounds of Candy Crush focus on these little love letters.  I give myself C+ for the effort (and beat two more levels. GO ME)

Finally, it was time to vote.  Paper ballots (ah, good ol’ 1890’s technology!) were handed out, marked, and collected.

Then, because it was nearly 8 PM and I was hungry, I left.  (Which is totally OK – you can stay and listen as some boring politics stuff gets discussed, or you can go home and eat a turkey burger.  In my house, the burger ALWAYS wins. #teamhungry)

On the way out (and there were STILL people coming in!) I overheard a few of the volunteers commenting on the turnout.  Last go-round, they thought they had MAYBE fifty or sixty voters for the caucus at this location.  This year, there were over fifty in my precinct alone – close to a thousand total crammed into the local high school to have their say that night.

And this was consistent across the entire state.

Kind of warms my heart that so many people showed up. Because showing up means they still CARE.

My state hasn’t given up.  Not yet.

Ironically, one of Trump’s claims is that “I really unify and bring people together.  And, I suppose on Tuesday in Minnesota, he did just that. Attendance at the Republican caucus was 75% higher than it was in 2008.  People unified and turned out in droves to join their voices together and make sure they were heard.

And they didn’t pick Trump.  Neither did the Democrats pick Clinton:

MNCaucus

Image: politico.com

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.

Trump?  You’re fired.

<mic drop>

3 Days, 3 Quotes: Day 1 – Artfully Plating an Opinion

Earlier today, I was so VERY KINDLY nominated to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge by luvbearlvx.

<coughcoughjustyouwaituntiltheglittereyeshadowchallengecoughcough>

Ok, seriously, he is really quite entertaining, plus he has cats (one of whom typed his username, I think) so you should totally read his shiz.

So, the challenge:

For 3 days, post a quote and express what that quote means to you.  And nominate 3 other suckers lucky bloggers to take the challenge as well.

So…today’s quote.  I don’t actually REMEMBER a lot of quotes – once in a while, I’ll see one that’s been artfully crafted into a meme on Facebook; I’ll smile or chuckle, click “like,” and move on with my day.  The quote flits out of my life much like a butterfly tipped from its perch, quickly forgotten and sent off into the ether to make some other person’s life a bit more beautiful for a moment.

But this quote really stuck with me when I read it.  I liked it so much that I actually emailed it to myself so I wouldn’t forget it.  It spoke to me so clearly, I actually HAD IT MADE INTO A T-SHIRT YO.

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Paulo Coelho

shirtfront(Special shoutout to CustomInk for helping me create this.  Isn’t it cute?  It’s awesome and so is their customer service.  You should totally hit up their site and buy a lot of shirts with YOUR quotes on them.)

That’s not me modeling the shirt, by the way.  It’s the model on the site.  And this shirt runs small, so I had to order a <choke> MEDIUM, which would normally mean “I’m fat, I hate myself, and I fail at life,” but I like the shirt so much I DON’T EVEN CARE.  <gasp>

Until I read this quote, I had never heard of this Paulo Coelho dude.  I Googled a little bit, because I don’t want to accidentally support the quotation of, say, some puppy-kicker, or some a$$clown who chucks snow cones at senior citizens just for giggles, right?

I quickly found out that Paulo Coelho has a really, really difficult name to type.  (Seriously, try it. It’s not just me, is it?)  And he’s from Brazil, which probably means he’s pretty hot.  Beyond that, he’s a pretty interesting character, according to Wikipedia:

  • His dad was an engineer, and he was discouraged from pursuing writing.  (Really. I mean, it’s not like the kid wanted to be a wizard, or a penguin, or the Batmobile. Sheesh, let a kid dream a little.)
  • He decided to do it anyway, after researching and deciding that a writer “always wears glasses and never combs his hair” and has a “duty and an obligation never to be understood by his own generation.”   (SAID EVERY TEENAGER IN AMERICA TO HER PARENTS)
  • He escaped three mental institutions before the age of 20 (Misunderstood, yet creative and quite resourceful.)
  • He wrote a whole bunch of books that I haven’t read.  But probably should.  At least The Alchemist.  I mean, MADONNA read it.  And Will Smith.  If it’s good enough for Fresh Prince….?

So – why this quote?  Well, for one, it really explains my FAVORITE BUMPER STICKERS EVAH:

coexist

I like these so well, I put one on the back of my shirt:

shirtbackTo me, these mean something beyond “Live and let live” – they mean “seek, with love, to understand.”   Does it mean we always agree?  No, of course not.  But it DOES mean we’ll hear each other out and be respectful.

Your beliefs are as valuable as mine.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the hubs was, as of late, making some very impassioned downright hateful anti-religion statements.  I know I’ve said I find it hurtful…but even if I step outside of myself and my admittedly selfish, self-centered feelings, I still just cannot see that it’s doing anyone any good.

What’s the benefit of hate?

Does hate change minds?

Does force create converts?

I’ve never thought so.

But this works both ways.  ALL ways.  See, if you want someone to agree with you – if you want someone to listen to you, hear what you’re saying, and possibly adapt your viewpoint as their own – you have to make it appealing.

It’s like food.  You can slop a wad of mystery hash onto a plastic tray next to some cold, soggy vegetables, and bark out orders from under your hairnet to “EAT IT.”  Or, you can pull out some colorful Fiesta dishes, artfully arrange it on a plate with a grain, a bright veggie, and a playful garnish, and serve it with the airplane spoon.

No one will swallow your words if they’re not palatable.  No one will come back for seconds if what you’re saying is too difficult to chew.  Much like many a determined toddler, they’ll either refuse to eat, crossing their arms and staring you down defiantly, or they’ll shove just enough behind their cheeks to get them excused from the unpleasantness that is your dinner table.

You have to present what you’re serving with the concept that it’s a really, really good thing.  That’s the only way to get people to try what you’ve cooked up.  SHOW them that it’s wonderful.

I mean, if you’re presented a new dish, are you likely to relish tasting from a plate violently thrust at you with the command, “EAT THE DAMN SQUID ALREADY”?  I’m guessing notsomuch.  But you MIGHT be willing to dip your fork into the artfully plated broiled calamari with lemon cream sauce.

The human mind is a beautiful thing, really.  I love the incredible creativity and variety that cognitive thought has allowed us to experience.  We all have the opportunity to feed one another; let’s do so with kindness and compassion.  Let’s try to understand how poisonous words and attitudes can be, and instead work to nourish and enrich each other with a balanced, varied diet of thought, respect, and love.

Bon Appetit!

Whoops.  Forgot to select my next victim nominee.  I’d love to hear from Cass at Indisposed and Undiagnosed. I know she’s taking a break at the moment, but I miss her.

The voice of a flower…

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is sing.  I sing in a band on occasion, which is a total rush, but I got my start in church choirs.  When I first moved here, I sang with a local church, but my attendance petered out a few years ago.  I was traveling a ton for work, and seeing my family out East a couple times a month, and had an illness that would not go away – so I put the brakes on church so I could rest on Sundays.  Gah, that sounds weak…but sometimes, something has to give.  And that’s simply what gave out at the time.

So, since I’m trying to get healthier overall, I thought going back to church would help.  It’s like exercise, in a way.  Dragging myself out of bed takes a Herculean effort, and when it’s dark and cold and the bed is soft and warm and I’m sleepy I JUST DON’T WANNA. <whine>  But once I get up and get to it, I feel so much better.

I’ve been rehearsing with the choir once a week, and got to sing with them this morning.  The sermon was good, as it usually is, but today’s Children’s Message actually got me thinking after I left the four walls of the church.

(A lot of churches have messages targeted to kids before the actual “adult” sermon.  The Children’s Message is a short message, typically with props to keep it entertaining, and invariably one kid wanders off and spills the Communion juice or pulls his pants down or does something that makes you laugh – and makes you thankful that it wasn’t YOUR kid, this time.  After the message, the kids typically get chased down to the basement so the adults can stick around and really focus on the full sermon without worrying if darling little Brittney has enough crayons and animal crackers to keep her still until 11 AM.)

Today the Children’s Message featured flowers.   As the leader talked, she handed out flowers one at a time to all the kids.  Red and yellow roses, white lilies, pink carnations, magenta Gerber daisies.  The message was about Esther.  Essentially, Esther gets picked out of a whole gaggle of really pretty girls to be queen.  Sounds like it was a year-long beauty contest of sorts – they had a year just to make themselves look good (Extreme Makeover, Egyptian Year-Long Edition.)

Anyway – Esther’s Jewish, and one of the bad guys ordered all the Jews to be killed.  Esther has the opportunity as queen to bend the king’s ear and convince him that this isn’t such a good idea.  (Which was no easy feat, because normally if you approached the king without being invited, he had you killed, even if you were totally hot and queen to boot.  So it was kind of a big deal.)

The leader, after telling this story, showed all of the kids a dead rose.  It had blackened and withered, and the bud drooped lifelessly on its stem.  She reminded them that no matter what the kids did – no matter how careful they were, how much water they used, or how much pizza they gave it – in a couple of weeks, that pretty, pretty flower they were holding would look much like the one she was holding.  As one of the children put it, “It goes rotten!”

Hmm.  It goes rotten.

I worry (or re-center my worry) so, so much on what I eat, and how what I eat manifests itself in unwanted places on my body.  I’ve exhausted myself worrying about the bulges in my stomach and the width of my saddlebags.  I spend more time than I’d like to admit putting on this face cream and coloring this gray hair and trying to blend in that wrinkle and these under-eye bags….

Don’t I have more to offer this world?  SHOULDN’T I offer more?  Why is so much of my focus on something so meaningless and fruitless to preserve?

The pastor, in the adult version of the sermon, talked about “finding your voice.”  She specifically talked about the fate of women in many parts of the world – being no more than property, trinkets for trafficking, having no opportunities for education – and encouraged us to DO something.  Get involved, make a difference, at the very least raise your sons and daughters to CARE.

What’s my voice?

So often (between days of beating myself up over eating YET ANOTHER effing bag of kettle corn) I find myself wondering what the point is to my life.  I exist.  I get up, I work, I come home.  Why bother?  So much work, and eventually I’ll die anyway, right?

I’ve come to realize recently that this is a very selfish viewpoint, and maybe I should try looking at this from a different angle.  Why am I thinking that the world owes me a life?  Shouldn’t I instead be looking at how I can work to make the world better somehow?  Instead of wondering why life isn’t particularly meaningful, I should go out and MAKE it meaningful.

In other words – what can I do for this world?

There are things I can do.  I can volunteer.  I can control my anger and biting sarcasm.  I can treat people with kindness.

I did donate to a couple of charities recently, and I know of some volunteer opportunities locally.  I certainly can extend small kindnesses (especially when I’m driving, ha ha) and I can be a better friend, wife, and mom by being more engaged and mindful with my family.

I don’t have any big, lofty goals around this right now, other than to recognize that “just existing” isn’t enough – nor is it the point.  My focus should be on what I can do to make the other flowers here bloom as big and bright as possible.

How can you help someone bloom today?  How can you plant the flowers that make the world more beautiful?