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There's been a fair amount of debate throughout the last several days, both here and elsewhere , over whether journalists should be permitted to participate

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Sucking Caucus

dukakis.jpg

There's been a fair amount of debate throughout the last several days, both here and elsewhere, over whether journalists should be permitted to participate in caucuses. On the one hand, barring or discouraging journalists from participating in caucuses can be construed as stripping them of their fundamental right to vote. On the other hand, caucuses are, in their very nature, partisan functions, and choosing which one to participate in would indeed betray a reporter's political stripes, thus cutting away the veil of objectivity.

Both sides of this argument have considerable merit. But the fact that the argument even exists points to a more compelling question: Why do we still have caucuses in the first place? Is there any American practice, other than slavery, that's more antiquated and undemocratic? While the unprecedented excitement associated with this year's wide open Presidential race has bolstered caucus participation in states like Iowa and Nevada, those turnouts would doubtless have been higher had those states simply held open (or even closed) primaries.

Caucuses, to me, are part and parcel to why voter turnout still sucks in America. Their very existence renders both parties hypocritical in their respective GOTV efforts, as caucuses allow each party and its uber-wonk operatives the best chance possible to hijack the candidate selection process from regular voters, most of whom couldn't tell you: (a) how a caucus works, and (b) where they're supposed to go to participate in one. Whether to keep the electoral college intact is a worthy debate. Whether to continue the practice of holding state-by-state caucuses isn't: They're as dated as the telegram, and should be relegated to history textbooks as soon as possible.

That's my take. Here's Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz's: "The process by which we choose our nominees for President in this country is not a primary. What we have is a series of contests held over a couple months. It's a little random, but we think it gives a good test to these candidates. We have always used caucuses in Washington because we believe they test the ability of candidates to organize on a grassroots level, whereas primaries tend to test political advertising."

 
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