It’s the eve of one of the most important political events in Colorado for members of the Republican and Democratic parties: the Colorado caucuses.  For the uninitiated, this is the meeting held in each precinct in Colorado to apportion delegates to the DNC and NRC for choosing nominees from either party. Some other business to be conducted is to nominate candidates to state house and state senate and other partisan seats for the primary ballot in June for either party.

It will be an evening full of tension and chaos and certainly not for the faint-hearted.  This year will be a bit different for Republican caucus attendees, because the Colorado Republican Party decided to forego the presidential poll portion of the evening.  That means that Colorado’s R delegates will attend the NRC as “uncommitted” delegates, which could mean that they could be simply standing at the ready to endorse anything RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tells them to.  Is that democratic?  It’s up to Colorado’s Republicans to decide.

At any rate. I digress, because I really want to talk to my fellow Coloradans who have registered as Democrats to participate in the caucuses.

DNC delegate count as of Sunday, February 28, 2016 at approx. 4 p.m. MST

DNC delegate count as of Sunday, February 28, 2016 at approx. 4 p.m. MST

As you can see from the above image (which includes the superdelegate count), Sanders is trailing pretty significantly, as of the time of this blog post’s publishing.  The website FiveThirtyEight has a pretty bleak run-down of Sanders’ prospects during Super Tuesday, too:

Sanders’s loss of momentum couldn’t have come at a worst time for his campaign. There are six Super Tuesday states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) where black voters made up a larger share of the electorate in 2008 than they did in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada this year. That Sanders couldn’t break through with black voters in either Nevada or South Carolina, despite a heavy investment, makes it difficult to believe he will have any more success in these six states, where his campaign hasn’t put in the same effort.

Is Sanders finished after Tuesday?  Stranger things have happened, but it’s probably time for people on the left of the Democratic Party spectrum to start making some contingency plans.  Why?  The deck is stacked pretty firmly against the prospect of Bernie Sanders winning the nomination of the Democratic Party for president.

Heading into caucus

There are a few pitfalls, as you go into Tuesday’s caucus in Colorado, that you should be aware of.  First, you need to understand the true impact of your “vote” at the caucus.  The first “vote” you take will be to impact the delegates each candidate will receive at the county convention.  Tuesday’s caucus is only the first step in the process for Colorado, not the whole enchilada, as the campaigns have led you to believe.  There will be three choices for the presidential selection: Clinton, Sanders or Uncommitted.

The preference poll decides how many delegates to the county convention (this is one step of many) are allocated to each candidate, including Uncommitted.  A candidate has to get at least 15% of the vote in order to be allocated delegates, otherwise their caucus attendees are asked to decide among the other choices left.

Here’s the kicker:  once you vote to allocate a NUMBER of delegates, you can jump into any other candidate group.  For example, if you are a Clinton supporter, you can cast your vote on the presidential preference, then you can jump over to the Sanders camp to vote for, or even run as, a delegate to the county convention.

From “Break Into Preference Groups,” item C, page 5. from the Colorado Democratic Party’s caucus rules:
Everyone can join a group. A person can join any preference group – even if he or she voted for another candidate or a candidate that did not make threshold in the poll. This does not change the poll result or the allocation of delegates. (emphasis mine)

While I am sure there are many caucus participants who have nothing but the best intentions, you can immediately see that the potential exists for a “sleeper delegate” who really supports Clinton to be elected as a delegate to represent Sanders.  The Democrats will say this is to allow Uncommitted participants to flow to whichever candidate they would like, but (a) Uncommitted participants almost never exceed the 15% threshold and (b) the rule should have been written to specifically allow only the Uncommitted participants to flow from group to group. Your only impact on who becomes a delegate is in the initial presidential preference poll at caucus. You have no control over the integrity of that delegate or whether they even go through the next steps, because it’s all internal workings of the Colorado Democratic Party after that point.

And none of this even takes into consideration that after being elected a delegate to the county convention, you then have to run for delegate to the state convention, where the actual election of delegates to the DNC takes place.  At that point, candidates for delegate slots will run actual campaigns and fundraise, just like actual political candidates for office.  The party does not fund the trip to the DNC at the end of July.

There has been some recent commentary about whether caucuses are classist, ableist and/or ageist. These are important things to consider.  And let’s not even talk about how the shark tank that is a heated caucus is already pitted against people who are eligible to vote but who don’t have perfect command of English.

(lots of great inside baseball information, plus a running tally of delegates, here.)

Consider that the DNC has only allocated 77 delegates from Colorado altogether, out of more than 4,700 total delegates nationwide, including the legendary superdelegates.  What are your odds?

So then, given the labyrinthine aspect of this process and diminishing returns of each step, it’s time to take stock. Is your support of Sanders about the progressive agenda or about the candidate? If it’s truly about the agenda, then what’s your Plan B?

Keeping the progressive agenda alive in 2016

As Sanders supporters have said to us Greens since Sanders declared, we should make sure that our progressive message is carried forth by the most viable candidate.  But where does that leave the agenda once Sanders stalls out?  At that point, if your support really is about the agenda, then it makes sense to work with the Green Party to build and grow.

If our Green Party presidential nominee can get 5 percent of the national popular vote, our party qualifies for federal funds to apply toward party operations.  This means that the few states left with ballot access campaigns to run, including Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma and more will then have funds to apply toward those campaigns.  For example, in Oklahoma, some 25, 000 signatures on petitions will need to be collected, but they can only be collected during the months of December through February.  Even though the Green Party of Oklahoma is a hardy group of volunteers who have already collected many hundreds of signatures, it’s easy to see that hiring temporary signature gatherers is an important task.  Those federal funds will help us get that job done, and we’re very proud of the fact that in spite of the odds, we’ll be on the ballot for nearly 90 percent of all voters this November, including Colorado.

And about that agenda…what exactly are we talking about?  Here are important highlights from our national platform:

  • Reparations for our black descendants of chattel slavery
  • Strict adherence to our treaties with Native American nations
  • Opposition to the death penalty
  • The end of privatization of public education and free education from preschool to college
  • Abolition of student loan debt
  • Electoral reform, including proportional representation and instant runoff voting
  • Single-payer healthcare
  • A living wage
  • The right to organize and collectively bargain
  • Deployment of resources currently used for wars for oil toward developing a green economy

There’s so much more to this, and if you are about the agenda over the candidate, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much we’ve thought this agenda through.

Isn’t that a platform you can get behind?

Our Green Party nominee will be on the ballot either way in November.  If the current momentum holds true, it will likely be Jill Stein, but we have five candidates:

Either one of them, or even the national party itself, could use a monetary donation as well.  Consider it your insurance policy for the progressive agenda.  We could use your help in Colorado too.

You can also get involved in our delegate selection process at our state meeting on April 3.  You do have to be registered Green, however, so perhaps one way to keep the progressive ball afloat is to register Green after your work in the caucus is finished, and you won’t be trying to become a delegate.  Here’s more information about our state meeting:

State Nomination Convention
Sunday, April 3, 2016
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Koelbel Library
5955 S Holly St
Centennial, CO 80121
Click here to RSVP

Either way, whether you choose to support us as a new Green Party-registered voter or even just by voting for our nominee in November and retaining your Democrat registration, we appreciate your help.

It will take all hands on deck to move the needle on our collective progressive agenda.

Happy caucusing!