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Kansas Caucus – I was hoping for more fireworks

I was hoping for something.


Along with about 140 others, I arrived at the Community Center in Marion, Kansas for the state Republican caucus ready for action. As a history teacher and poly sci major, I’ve been to primaries and election but have never experienced a caucus. So I was pumped for some political fireworks.

The Romney representative loudly squaring off against the Santorum rep, with a little fingerpointing by the Newt guy. Maybe a few Michelle Bachman t-shirts hanging around. Some pointed questions and yelling by the Ron Paul folks. You know, some excitement.

But . . . nothing.

The county chair read letters from the Romney and Gingrich campaigns and that was about it. We all scratched an X on a piece of paper, dropped it into a box, and went home. The box wasn’t even locked or monitored. Pretty boring. But you know, maybe that’s the point. American democracy should be boring.

There were no armed soldiers monitoring the voting. I didn’t have to dip my finger in ink to prevent voter fraud. I wasn’t afraid of physical intimidation by opposing campaigns. And while it was much less exciting due to a lack of figurative fireworks, I liked the fact that actual explosives were nowhere to be found.

I do have one concern. I may have been one of the five youngest people there. Lots of gray hair. Nothing wrong with gray hair. I actually have some of my own. But the lack of young voters was fairly obvious. A recent article in the Wichita Eagle (and tons of other places) tries to explain this lack of interest.

Whatever the reason, we need to be doing a better job of preparing our kids to participate. Check out some of these tools:

(And not that you’re keeping track but I was part of the 252 Other votes. I’m sure that Rick, Mitt, Newt, and Ron are just super nice people but well . . . some would consider me to be a bit of a moderate. Other was really the only option I had.)

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. CountryDuck #

    Given those choices, other would be my nominee as well. Can we start a Super Pac for other? Maybe Stephen Colbert will throw his million(s) behind our candidate.

    March 12, 2012
    • glennw #

      Sounds good to me. Probably have to talk with John Stewart – he’s the one running the PAC now.


      March 12, 2012
  2. Jeff Benes #

    I went last Saturday, also, in Johnson county. Being a government teacher, I was super excited, and posted both to my facebook and new twitter (thanks to Eric Langhorst at the MCSS conference) my day. To little avail. As it turned out, the representatives were interesting, but not terribly fired up. It was fun to look over the crowd. I noticed a similar experience. Being 36, I was absolutely one of the younger ones in the crowd. There were some young families, and an interesting cross section of Ron Paul fans. There was one black man, a police officer there to pull security for Ron Paul (who showed up in the second set of caucuses). Getting in was near impossible. You had to be preregistered, then have state issued ID that met requirements (my federally issued military ID failed to win favor four years ago), and then you had to have a sticker that meant they should count your vote. It was interesting to see Cain and Bachman on the ballot. It gives you an idea how far in advance the ballots were established. The greatest speaker at our caucus (one of seven locations in Johnson County) was a Pentecostal Minister for Rick Santorum. “And that’s why we pick Rick!” He clearly had experience motivating a crowd, and received plenty of Amen’s. Romney’s speaker focused more on his own experience than the candidate, and seemed to just be ready to give the race away. Ron Paul was fun to watch, but looked just as squirrelly in person as he did in the debates. The white, middle to upper, older, educated audience was a lesson in democracy in itself. It is said that those who show up to the primaries are the voters most likely to demand an extreme candidate. Moderates didn’t seem to be in plenty here. It will be fun to see what the Democrats have planned in April.

    March 17, 2012
    • glennw #


      Sounds like you had way more fun than I did! At least you had some people step up and try to make a sale. And Ron Paul would have been great to listen to. The advanced age of many of those in attendance here in Marion County was probably a factor in the lack of excitement – no questions, no speeches, nothing.

      I was a bit surprised at the lack of ballot box security. Unlocked, no one really watching it, a pretty relaxed atmosphere.

      But I can now say that I was part of a caucus. Hoping to go to the Democrat version in April – can’t imagine it being much more exciting. But we’ll see.

      Thanks for the comment!


      March 18, 2012

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