Column: Caucus in Cedar-Riverside falls short

A grand tradition of democracy fails to work for its participants.

by Kate McCarthy

The caucus might be my favorite weird feature of our democracy. It’s an oft-contentious group effort — strangers shoved together and tripping over each other to get through the event’s semantics.

It’s one of the most uniquely democratic practices I’ve ever seen and always makes me think, “Ah, this is what old town hall meetings must have been like!” It’s unfortunate, however, to see how the system sometimes chokes itself into inefficiency.

The Brian Coyle Center rocked with frantic energy. Somali women, men and children had come out in huge numbers for their Ward 6 City Council candidates — incumbent Abdi Warsame and Mohamud Noor — and cheers erupted each time one was mentioned by name. In an unforeseen turn of events, the fire department came to shut down the overly packed gymnasium and relocate us to the adjacent soccer field.

It was essentially downhill from there. Assembling the masses again, counts and recounts were demanded, duplicitous accusations made and general shouting ensued. Critical mass couldn’t be reached, none of the steps of the caucus were carried out, and it was eventually rescheduled.

This was not a case of political apathy or lack of opportunity. An eager electorate came out, excited to participate and be involved. Rather, it was the murky logistics that robbed them of the chance to engage, and that’s perhaps something to remember as we think about what from our political past should remain and what should be reformed.