Reflecting on the caucus


by Jackie Alfonso | March 8, 2009 • On Tuesday I attended my neighborhood’s caucus, as I have many times. Coming away with deep misgivings, I wrestled with how to think about what had happened.

The Precinct, and especially the ward, have long histories of activism, union support, and as a nursery for elected officials. The caucus each year had been packed with people, full of vibrant conversation, and a true representation of principled discussion.

On Tuesday, it was none of those things. There were only enough people to barely fill our obligation to the next level. Of those people, a noisy and significant portion were loud, sniping, making fun of others, and rude. They were also young, and sprawled over every inch of space. They had no understanding of basic neighborliness, nor of how meetings operate smoothly.

My initial response (as always) was sarcasm. However, with time to ponder, I have come to a realization: For nearly all of the lifetime of these people, the dominant model has been without basic civility, without regard for the significance of each person who participates in the process. Political life has been rife with a verbal paucity of ideas and a breeding ground of nasty innuendo. The dominant personalities have been full of bile and sly lack of forthrightness.

We have a job ahead of us, after such a long time – a responsibility to replace that hostile environment with the civility on which our political life depends. We must roll up our sleeves and get to it.