Minneapolis, Ward 2, Post 3

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by Heidi Hanse, February 5 2008 • I am definitely out of my comfort zone when it comes to politics. I have never voted during a presidential election, let alone a caucus, so I had no idea what to do. Walking to the caucus, I was very nervous that I would have no idea what everyone was talking about. The line to get into the building extended about half a block away. The people in line were half college students and half non-college students.

The people around me were having conversations about the candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Two people argued about who was better and why. A female that was supporting Clinton was called a feminist. I think that since both Democratic candidates are “firsts” for their gender or race, if a voter makes their decision based on race or gender, that person is discriminating and too lazy to research each candidate’s views. It also goes the other way as well if a voter doesn’t vote for a candidate based on their gender or race.

As the people around me discussed the candidates, I became very overwhelmed. It seemed most people knew who they were going to vote for and why and were willing to share their opinion at the drop of a hat. However, I found a group of students that felt the same way I did. Not only did we not know who we were voting for, but didn’t completely understand why we were at the caucus or even what a caucus was. We talked about the ways the media helps us understand the political system in small ways, but overall just makes things worse. The bashing of candidates based on what they are wearing is useless. Each dresses respectable enough to represent a nation but it is pointless for the media to focus on this since our president isn’t trying to make a difference in the fashion world.
As time went on, more and more people showed up. One man said that he hoped we could set a record for the number of people at this caucus. The small park building was crammed with people but no one seemed to mind. Some people came right at 6:30 p.m. and stayed the whole time, while others came only during the voting.

There were a lot of helpful people there, directing people like myself on what to do and where to go. They answered a lot of questions and each time with a smile on their face. This encouraged me to continue participating. If someone was mean and grumpy, I might have given up and went home. In the end, I expected to go to the caucus and be engulfed in politics with no help. This was not the case. Maybe half of the people there didn’t know who they were voting for or even what was going on. They were trying to get some sort of grasp on their own democratic system and this is what I like to see. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and avoiding the unknown, these people gave it a shot and took part in politics. When I expressed my views on not knowing who to vote for, the answer I received from a caucus voter summed up my feelings about this year’s elections: “I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. However, it would be nice if you voted for (unnamed candidate).”

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