Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Sometimes, one vote counts

Wick's World

 


I went looking for zeal expecting dull. I got both. The caucus began with a traffic jam not limited to Eagan, the Twin Cities or even Minnesota. Lines of cars were winding their way to precincts all over America.

Historically low caucus turnouts hit record highs. Republicans can credit Trump. The party establishment came to derail Trump’s run as their presidential nominee. However, it’s safe to say Trump’s fervent followers made up the majority of new caucus-goers. For the Democrats it was Bernie Sanders. I attended because I finally had a candidate to support. Sanders had thrown a monkey wrench into the fracas that led to a fractured caucus. It was a far cry from normally dull caucuses of the recent past.

Following discharge from the Army I caught a plane to London and rode my thumb to the border of Iran where I was not so politely turned away. My journey included traveling behind the Iron Curtain and getting a first-hand look at the communist version of socialism. What I discovered could be described in one word — gray. The countries were bathed in gloom and dreariness, unlike the America where I grew up. They were also in sharp contrast to the colorful Latin American countries I visited: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Panama, although poor, were full of music, laughter and exotic foods. On the other hand, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and other Marxist regions were seeped in a silent depression.

So why do I still advocate socialism? The short version: I believe in a social democracy which is very different from communism. I traveled Scandinavia and saw Finland, Sweden and Denmark taking care of its people and still allowing them the freedoms of democracy.

I attended my last caucus, a turnout of about 20 people, several years ago in Sturgeon Lake. The process lasted one hour. The caucuses in Eagan had over 2,000 voters in attendance. As predicted, they began tediously. Proposals for party platforms were stated and voted on with a show of hands. Finally it was time for our precinct’s ballots to be collected. Two young people along with an overseer went in the hall to count. They returned at 8:20 p.m. when the excitement I was looking for began.

Reading the totals from the post-it note sized ballots our precinct captain said, “Wow! You’re not going to believe this. Zero votes for Smith, zero votes for Johnson and three ballots were marked uncommitted. Seventy-five votes for Sanders.Seventy-six votes for Clinton.”

A collective groan rippled throughout the room. Ironically there was no cheering for the party’s frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

Then the overseer of the vote yelled, “It was a tie! We counted them. They both got 75 votes!”

The two vote counters echoed her, “We counted the ballots. It was 75-75!”

The precinct captain calmly said, “I hadn’t voted yet. I just cast my ballot. It’s 76-75 for Clinton.”

I cried foul, “You just told us how you voted! This is supposed to be a secret ballot!”

The point I really should have made was the fact the precinct captain voted after he saw the tie. I thought this to be highly irregular. In actuality, it was highly illegal.

Someone in the crowd hollered, “Your vote is invalid. It’s 8:20 and by state law the voting ends at eight o’clock!”

The captain admitted his vote was invalid and indeed our precinct ended in a tie. The deciding factor that made me leave the comfort of my home and drive over to the school was this. I felt if Bernie Sanders had any chance to win the party’s endorsement, he would need my vote. It turns out he did. Sometimes your one vote counts. Please get out and vote. It is one of our greatest privileges.

 

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