An Anarchist at the Caucus
by Doug French by Doug French
Saturday was caucus day in Nevada for the first time ever, and despite not choosing to participate in this foolish sport, this anarchist couldn’t resist a front row seat to watch democracy in action. Republicans were to report to a government high school by 9am sharp, and as it turned out, be off the premises by 10:30 to allow Democrats their turn. Like most high schools in fast growing Las Vegas, this one in the southwest area of town is relatively new, built in 1993, and almost prison-like in design with a center concrete yard surrounded by iron gates so that the facility can be "locked-down" easily.
No one knew what was going on as people streamed into the check-in area located in the lunchroom. But after a little investigation we determined that we must look at a map to determine the number of our precinct and go to the classroom designated as the meeting place for those who lived in that area.
Twenty-three average looking folks assembled in a classroom whose day-to-day occupying teacher is not likely a Republican type. Just a guess, but the large Amnesty USA and Ten Indian Commandments posters provided a clue. It turned out that 21 of the 23 were registered Republican participants while two of us just observed.
There were no instructions in the room, which left the assembled, to chat amongst themselves while waiting to learn what to do. The subject of Ron Paul was raised across the room, and the most vociferous of the caucusers said, "Ron Paul is a joke." "The Constitution was a fine document," he went on, "but this isn’t 1776. The Constitution isn’t relevant anymore. You can’t run the country based upon it anymore."
The mouthy caucuser said that he had high hopes for Fred Thompson, but Thompson just "doesn’t have the desire." When the conversation turned to illegal immigrants, the gravelly-voiced know-it-all said: “I have no sympathy for homebuilders going through this crunch at all. They had illegals working seven days a week for only $7 per hour during the boom. These guys were roofing with no safety harnesses and just tennis shoes at 7:30am on Sunday mornings next to my house."
This thoughtful discussion was thankfully interrupted when directions arrived. Unfortunately, these instructions were confusing enough that the Dudley Do-Right Mormon gentleman who reluctantly became precinct captain read them aloud at least three times trying to figure out what they meant. The work that needed to be done was to select six delegates to the Clark County Republican convention from the 21 registered Republicans present. Those who aspired to be delegates were to give a one-minute speech and if more than six wished to run for one of the six spots, there would be an election. Mercifully, only six sought to be delegates, with another four wanting to be alternates.
The precinct captain proved that he has clearly fallen for the government-sponsored baloney explaining that he wanted to be a delegate because: "We are the government. Politics runs our lives. We must participate to have a voice." Another delegate’s motivation is to "stop the Clinton machine." Another grew up in a political family and feels she must get involved, while another said she "wants to be a voice for my country."
One of the delegates just got out of high school and mumbled that he "wanted to get involved." The group was unanimous in its praise for a young person that had the desire to participate in the process. And finally a certain lawyer told the group she wished to be a delegate to make sure Republicans would be elected so employers would not be saddled with the job-killing employment policies that the Democrats were proposing.
After the speechifying was complete, the group of 21 unanimously approved the delegates and alternates. Finally, the ballots arrived to provide for a presidential straw poll. However, the delegates will do the real voting in March or April at the county convention and later at the state convention, and contrary to what most in the room thought, the elected delegates are not required to vote at the convention the way their particular precinct voted.
When the votes were counted, Romney came away with 15, Ron Paul tallied 3 votes, while Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee each received a vote. Of course, the lone vote for Hunter came from the Paul hater quoted above. He must have been crushed when his man decided to throw in the towel by dinnertime that same day.
The countywide vote was similar to our precinct: Romney received approximately 70% of the vote, 14% went to Paul and 13% for McCain.
But, what looks like a landslide for Romney may be deceiving. Our just-out-of-high school delegate is a Ron Paul supporter (if the Romney folks had known that, they might not have been as excited about his participation), as is that certain attorney delegate. So, come county convention time, for this particular precinct, 33 per cent will casting votes for Ron Paul.
Across town at another caucus with 36 voters, the results were: Romney 17, Paul 6, Huckabee 6, McCain 3, Thompson 3, and Giuliani 1, according to my inside source. But more importantly, of the nine delegates, five were Romney supporters, three were for Paul and one was for Thompson. The results in a precinct near downtown were even better: Ron Paul received 10 of 19 votes, and both delegates and two alternate delegates are all for Paul.
And these results are from Clark County, which might as well be a suburb of Los Angeles politically. Paul won the straw vote in Nye County, and was very close to Romney in Esmeralda, Storey and Eureka counties. Statewide, Romney received 51% of the vote, while 14% went to Paul and 13% to McCain. If not for the population centers of Clark and Washoe counties voting 70% for Romney, the vote would have been much closer.
But the real voting begins at the county and state conventions, and the anecdotal evidence is that Ron Paul has much more delegate support than the caucus results reflect.
Doug French [send him mail] is executive vice president of a Nevada bank and associate editor for Liberty Watch Magazine. He received the Murray N. Rothbard Award from the Center for Libertarian Studies.