Community Voices: Rep. Ilhan Omar tells Minneapolis residents ‘Go Caucus’

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The caucus process was my introduction to democracy. I remember how excited my grandfather was to participate. Wanting to see what it was all about, I accompanied as his translator. It was amazing, everyone had a voice. A precinct caucus is a neighborhood meeting – about as grassroots as it gets. It’s an evening of people coming together, building local power and changing the problems we see in our government.

A caucus is a community election. The process isn’t the easiest – honestly, it’s a little messy and can seem uninviting. But I need you to know, not only are you invited, but you are expected. It is our civic duty; participation is the essence of our democracy. Elections guarantee term limits, but only if we show up. Most circumstances or interactions we face, during an average day, are affected by local government. From combatting prejudice to protecting our environment, we must enact change locally. Change will always start local and spread.

One reason we are unhappy with our leaders, is we are unhappy with the choices. Living in the Twin Cities means living in a one-party system. It is likely the DFL nominee wins in November because generally there are not many choices. This is because, in Minneapolis, change-making occurs at precinct caucuses. Caucuses are the first round of screening. Candidates are applying to represent us, but most of us skip the interviews! In 2013, only 2 percent of Minneapolis residents caucused. We can do better than that.

There are great candidates running for office throughout the city. We can make Minneapolis a progressive city, not only in value but in government as well. We must caucus on April 4 – I’ll be at Precinct 2-9 – to choose the leaders we deserve. Most of us were disappointed with the 2016 election results. And I know it can be easy to write of politics, to think, “April is too early, but I’ll definitely vote in November.” But we cannot do that. We cannot let the pain of losses hinder our progress. We must harness our frustration and fear, join with our neighbors and unleash a citywide coalition of love, acceptance and uniting diversity.

To find your caucus location in Minneapolis and to pre-register in your precinct, check out the DFL’s precinct finder here. Caucusing runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.,  but it’s best to get there by 6:30 p.m.

For more information about what goes on at a caucus, check out this handy guide from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.

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