Today’s the day we in Texas go to the polls – for the second time – to elect our Presidential nominee. Most of you by now have heard of our peculiar nominating process where we vote first by ballot, then by caucus. I cast my ballot last Tuesday, and tonight I thought I’d be ready and charged for my first caucus event.
But instead I feel like Garfield. Not the former President Garfield. The cat Garfield, in a comic strip from years ago. If I recall it right, Jon was pondering the intricacies of the cat walk and asked his furry feline friend exactly how he did it. Paraphrasing, Jon asked, “Garfield, do you move both of your front paws forward, followed by your two back paws? Or do you move your front right paw and back left paw at the same time? Or maybe you move your front right, back right, back left and front left in sequence?” Jon waited patiently, but the answer never came, in part because Garfield is, after all, a cat. But also because thinking and doing are two separate things, and not only can cats not talk, now this one couldn’t walk.
So today, as I ready for the big event, I’m trying not to over-think what comes naturally, or as close to natural as things become with practice. In theory nothing could be easier, particularly for someone like me, than helping elect a President. I vote wherever and whenever I can. I’ve voted in person on election day. I’ve voted absentee. I’ve voted using push-pins, and hand levers, and electronic voting machines (hate them, by the way). And having lived in Texas for four years, I’ve now grown accustomed to early voting, having done so at least three times. Rain or shine, big election or small (and the small one’s sometimes matter most), expect me there. I was voter #15 in the last City Council race, and that was about an hour before the polls closed. It was rainy. It was cold. Clearly no-one wanted to be there. But I was. Because history is made by the people who show up. And so I did.
And tonight, at 7:15, I will show up again. To caucus.
There’s only one problem. No-one here is quite sure exactly how to caucus, and that includes my hyper-intelligent civically militant law prof and lawyer friends. Hillary Clinton reminds me how important the caucus is in her radio ads – its where a full 1/3 of the delegates will be chosen. And Barack Obama sent a flyer telling me its as easy as doing “the Texas two-step.” But I’m from New England. What in the world is a “Texas two-step”?!
I should call my friends in Iowa, but then again, maybe their caucus is different. They had to stand in a room, right? I heard we only have to sign a declaration. But then might have to stand in a room. Or in the corner of a room. And later might have to move to another corner. Or maybe another room. I’ve been on the internet for an hour, and can’t even find the right building to make sure I get to the right room! All this and I still haven’t decided who to caucus for.
So here I sit, three hours before we’re supposed to caucus in the election I never thought my future children’s children would ever get to see.
I’m ready to go. But so gripped by anxiety I can’t even get out of my chair.
-Kathleen A. Bergin