Caucus! Shape the future of your party, get in on the ground floor of the political process

Friday, March 2, 2018 10:46 PM
The La Plata County Republican Central Committee, from left, Treasurer, Holly Hott, Vice Chair, Colton Black, Chairman, Jim Harper, 2nd Vice Chair, Sarah Ferrell and former chairman, Travis Oliger, hold a republican caucus training session for about 30 volunteers last Thursday evening at the Durango Elks Lodge. Photo credit: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Colorado’s political precinct caucuses, which will be held Tuesday, March 6, are the first formal opportunity for voters to weigh-in on the candidates and issues in the 2018 election.

Precinct caucuses are meetings of registered electors within a defined geographic area who are members of a major political party, in Colorado the Republican and Democratic Party. The purpose of the caucuses is to elect precinct committee persons and delegates to party county assemblies.

The caucuses are also the place where new ideas bubble-up and begin to be discussed, debated and refined by committed individuals who have the power to shape the future of their party.

Those ideas may not reach the local ballot in November or the national stage for years or perhaps decades, and others will drop from view without notice. But a few, hatched in local precincts under the care of voters, not professional politicians, will take flight. That’s politics.

And this is where it starts. This is the ground floor of partisan decision-making, and participation is in everyone’s best interests. It’s a shame more people don’t take part.

Unregistered voters, unaffiliated voters, those who are registered as members of what the state considers “minor” parties, and others who wanted to switch, had until January 8 to register as Republican or Democrat to participate in the caucus of one of those parties.

As a general rule, with many exceptions, Greens caucus with Democrats, Libertarians with Republicans, and so on, but other voters cross wider gaps. Most of the rural counties of Western Colorado have quite a few registered “Republicans” who may never vote for a Republican in the general election, because in places where one party dominates, decisions made early in the election season determine November’s victors.

Because the state has so many voters who are, for the rest of the year, unaffiliated, those who are registered with a party for caucuses, assemblies and primaries can make a sizeable difference.

That system may not seem fair, as it allows influence in a political party by people who are not, by affinity, members, but the United States allows any eligible voter to vote for any eligible candidate, and that’s a right that shouldn’t be surrendered.

So go ahead; Caucus! Visit and click on “elections” or call the La Plata County clerk’s office at 382-6296 to determine the location of your caucus.

Then, spend the time and energy to be part of representative democracy in the United States of America.

All our political issues, from the most local to the most global, demand our best ideas, greatest minds and most dedicated effort.

This is not the year to let others make decisions on your behalf.