Feb 032008
Authors: Sean Reed

With Super Tuesday mere spitting distance away, a large number of CSU students are preparing themselves for the Colorado Caucus.

For many, this will be their first opportunity to voice their opinions in a presidential election year, so here are a few things you should know before you set out tomorrow night:

A caucus is not a primary.

Primaries involve individuals going into a polling place, casting their vote and leaving, no more enlightened about the issues surrounding the election than they were before they cast their primary ballots.

Caucuses, on the other hand, while still serving as a means to “pick” a candidate, serve another, larger purpose, as well.

On Tuesday night, people from across the state will be meeting with other members of their communities to do something they don’t often do — dialogue.

In the Democratic caucus process, at the beginning of the night, attendees divide into separate preference groups based on which candidate they support. And yes, if a caucus-goer is still undecided, that is an acceptable option, too.

Then, the precinct captain (elected that night) determines if each group has the 15 percent necessary to be considered a viable candidate.

After determining whether or not all candidates are viable, the floor is then opened for the members of different groups to convince those in others to break rank.

What is particularly cool about this process is that it forces people to focus on the positive aspects of their candidate to get people to come to their side, because if they merely focusing on the negative aspects of the candidate another participant is supporting, they may convince them to change. But there is a risk they may join a different preference group.

At the end of the night, when it seems like the groups are pretty much finalized, delegates are then awarded.

The Republican system is a bit more simplistic, but still offers an opportunity for discussion.

An informal straw poll is typically taken at the beginning of the evening, giving participants a window into their candidate’s chances, before the floor is opened up for members of the crowd to give their pitches for candidates.

When they are finished, a final nonbinding poll is taken and delegates are awarded to the candidate with the most votes.

But forget the numbers and the delegates. What’s important is what happens before the final selection.

Too often today, Americans don’t talk — they bicker.

At the caucus, attendees are forced to discuss their values and the common vision they have with their peers for their community.

So, on Tuesday night, go to the caucus, and go prepared to convince, but take care to keep an open mind.

You never know, you might just find you have more in common with your neighbors than you might think.

Editorials editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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