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Surely I am not the only one who slept through civics class? Not long ago I attended my first local caucus and am still reeling from it. This is what democracy was based in? No wonder George Washington loathed the party system. No wonder our parties are so whack.

First of all what surprised me was the lack of education - this was the first caucus I had ever been to and there was no introduction, no paper explaining the rules and procedures, no name tags, just a sign in and not enough agendas to go around.

Secondly, why did the Republicans have the large room while we had the little tiny room? Those poor guys had no one show up while we were crammed two deep around a table. We laughed at the fact that no one showed up for the Republican caucus but later I thought it was a sad fact. After all, I live in a very liberal neighborhood, if there are Republicans there I bet they are liberal ones, which the party could certainly use more of.

Thirdly, even though we didn't fit in the room, there still weren't enough people to be delegates. They had to rope me into saying I would be a delegate despite the fact that I have no idea what I would be doing, why, and I work during that time so I won't be able to attend regardless. Obviously we need more people involved at the local level - and this coming from an area that is politically active compared to the rest of the country.

Then there are the resolutions. I just didn't get the point. Perhaps this is because my caucus was disorganized and poorly run, with about five people doing most of the talking - all of whom seemed to agree with each other. This meant that there was no debating of issues; people talked to hear their own voices. While one or two resolutions were new and interesting (my favorite requested trying to bridge the digital divide) many others were poorly worded, ambiguous, expensive, controversially idealistic and vague. Nonetheless, most of them passed. I would have argued more objections but I was new and cautious. I still found myself the conservative person in the room, arguing immigration, homelessness, financial, and military issues (though mostly in my head). It wasn't that I fall in the conservative camp on the issues, just that I seemed to understand their complexities more than the people writing the resolutions and I couldn't support an issue that is unrealistically represented. It is like making a wish without thinking about all the consequences should it come true. After all, we can't just "do something about the homeless" without understanding how people become homeless, and addressing all of those reasons. This means that one-sided measures won't work - we can't just build more affordable housing without considering location and the impact on the economy. We can't just build more shelters without thinking about the message that sends to homeless people all over the world (I once met a drunk in Mexico who told me he lived in Minneapolis for awhile on welfare). Similarly while we may want to acknowledge the benefits that immigrants bring to our economy and culture, we can't welcome them without acknowledging the cultural and economic aspects they bring that we don't like. Just because the U.S. is founded on unbridled immigration doesn't mean we have to continue that way for all eternity. Yet when I say this, people look at me like there is no middle ground in this argument.

As my roommate lamented, it is tough being a liberal when you haven't drunk the Kool-Aid.

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