So here I am, a thirtysomething mother of three who loves books, newsmagazines, political discourse and, of course, my country. I like to think of myself as a fairly interested citizen who’s at least vaguely aware of what’s happening throughout this great nation in which I live. I am not consumed with politics nor do I enjoy debating politics (you’ll never change anyone’s mind and usually end up sounding ignorant, imo), but I am certainly interested in the broad strokes of influence that political events brush over our social and cultural lives. The big picture of politics–where we are and where we’re going–interests me far more than the neverending minutiae of who-said-what-when and how-the-other-side-is-out-to-get-us. Following politics that closely can feel like watching a really bad soap opera.
Nevertheless, I have my beliefs and I have my opinions, simple-minded as they may be. And I naturally get a bit more excited about politics every time a presidential election rolls around. I pay more attention to the parties and platforms and develop the same heady optimism about democracy that most of us enjoy as we survey this “arena of ideas.” I love these election cycles when the crowds are cheering, the flags are flying, and a lot of wonderful (if highly unlikely) changes seem palpably near. I get a little caught up in it all and, along with most of you, feel joy to bursting for being an American. If I’m not careful, I’ll even begin to fancy myself some kind of real thinker who takes political philosophy–and my own self–quite seriously. Against the backdrop of a presidential election cycle, I find myself pondering and questioning the proverbial status quo more ardently than ever, if only in my head. (I draw many original and impressive conclusions in my head.) I feel I am perched on the edge of a great cliff, parachute securely fastened, ready to soar into the clouds of great political and philosophical thought. But just as I’m ready to take the leap and pull the string, a single, inevitable word always yanks the parachute right off my pack and sends me plummeting back down, where I belong, to the hard flat ground of ignorance.
Do you want to know what word it is? ‘Cause I’ll tell you.
Caucus. Don’t get it. Don’t understand it. Never have.
A caucus is occurring in my hometown this weekend, which is what brought this ever-puzzling word to the forefront of my mind. I thought I’d been loosely following the presidential race, but upon learning that we had a caucus here this weekend I quickly remembered that I don’t really know what that word means. I’ve googled it, wickepedia-ed it, even huffington post-ed it. They all tried their best, but none of them could deliver. I still don’t get it. Trying to reconcile the electoral ramifications of a caucus is, for me, like watching The Social Network: ten minutes into it, I become painfully aware of just how dumb I really am.
Much as I’d like to blame the news media for failing me, my real stumbling block is that I lose interest in a Caucus Explanation about forty seconds into hearing it. Just when they get to the part about sending delegates to the county, my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about which Weight Watchers dessert tastes the least like fake chocolate and will thus mask my need for a real brownie after dinner. (I generally choose the double-chocolate-mousse-candy over a two-points bar. You?) Such laziness is why I’ll never be a true blogging/facebooking/controversy-stirring politico. I mean, I do care. Really I do. Just not quite that much. Which is why I’ll probably never quite understand how a caucus works.
And, as with most things I don’t understand, at some subconscious level I’ve decided that the inattention is worth the ignorance. My brain is just too jam-packed with other things; important things, like designing a Lego diorama for my son’s school project and keeping an eye out for the FedEx guy who will, one fine day, be delivering my Pampered Chef order. What can I say? I’m a busy woman. Far too busy to develop an adult understanding of the democratic process. But I maintain my position that if I really wanted to know how a caucus works, I think I could probably figure it out.
I”m pretty sure I could.