“There’s a caucus this year? Trump was just elected. Why would we have another caucus?”
Said almost everyone I’ve told about the odd-year caucus. Or is it Odd-Year Caucus?
Please, if you’re one of those people, don’t feel slighted. Two years ago, I had no idea the odd-year caucus existed. The state and county Democratic Parties have never done much to advertise its existence. The conspiracy fans among you are thinking, “That’s how they control the system, they keep us out.” The truth doesn’t take us that far down the rabbit hole.
Burnout following the presidential and congressional election years has limited attendance to the odd-year caucuses. Disappointment and lack of enthusiasm, not unexpected after a losing an election, also play a part. I suspect the biggest factor in the lack of promotion for the odd-year caucus is that, most years, it’s a housekeeping event for people that always attend their local/county central committee meetings.
That’s why it’s so important to attend this year. Whether we want to admit it, there remains a divide between members of the Democratic Party, in and out of Iowa. I hope you’re one of the people tired of the ‘Clinton vs. Sanders’ debate because I need the company. The truth is much more complicated, and nuance seems absent in America of late.
The divide is not simply a question of being ‘progressive’ or ‘establishment’. Bernie Sanders has been around awhile and no one questions his ‘progressive’ bona fides. It’s not just ‘millennial’ versus ‘baby boomer’. Again, see that ol’ rascal Bernie. It can’t be reduced to ‘authoritarian’ against ‘libertarian’. The ‘Social Justice Warrior’ community has a strong authoritarian bent, as do most neo-liberal corporatists. It doesn’t explain away as ‘candidate-driven’ in opposition to ‘issue-driven’. It is all of these and none of these.
In my opinion, which I appreciate you taking the time to read, I promise I’ve tried to keep this mostly factual, the divide is driven by fear. Democrats like to think of themselves as better than Republicans, but we’re doing the same thing we decry in them, only instead of attacking immigrants we’re attacking each other. That’s why you need to attend the odd-year caucus of your county party.
This is an opportunity to meet the other side. It’s a chance to put a face to the avatar of the person you’ve been sitting in an echo chamber with on Facebook. The odd-year caucus takes the divide and starts building a bridge across it. Speaking, eating, sharing together is key to building a real community. We need to remind ourselves we have more in common with each other than we might think. We need to remind ourselves that the DNC is not the Iowa Democratic Party. And we need to understand that if we don’t like it, we have the power to change it. The odd-year caucus lets us water the grassroots that will give us back our democracy.
The odd-year caucus occurs during odd years. It’s focus, according to the Iowa Democratic Party Constitution ratified at the 2016 State Convention is to…
Discuss and may indicate priorities regarding platform resolutions on such issues of national, state, and local importance or interest as those in attendance may determine, and forward such resolutions to the County and State Platform Committees for such action as their members may wish to take.
Nominate a committeeperson if a vacancy has occurred in that post between the election year caucus and the off-year county central committee meeting. The committeeperson nominated at the off-year meeting shall stand for election by the County Central Committee, and if elected, serve until the completion of the term of the predecessor.
The addition of platform resolutions is largely symbolic, as any resolution forwarded on to the platform committees cannot be included until the next Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) State Convention. This is usually the case on the county level, as county platforms are ratified at the county conventions held in even years.
The second purpose, filling open committeeperson positions, is something that can occur at any official County Central Committee meeting. In fact, “The committeeperson nominated at the off-year meeting shall stand for election by the County Central Committee.” That means anyone that wants to join County Central Committees must attend the next official meeting of their local party to be added. It’s largely a symbolic event.
This year the odd-year caucus’ most important purpose is to set the direction for your county-level Democratic Party. If you want a voice in the process, this is the place to share your desires and aspirations. In Wapello County, we are using it to create action plans for party building, fundraising, media outreach and issue advocacy. This country, and its citizenry, needs the Democratic Party to step up and defend ‘The Spirit of America’.
The ‘Odd-Year Caucus Schedule for the Iowa Democratic Party County Organizations‘ can be found through the link. We don’t have every county, so if yours isn’t listed please comment and we’ll add it to the list.