Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kansas: The thrill of caucusing

By Diane Silver

What a rush. More than 2,200 people turned out at my caucus site at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. We had to park in mud with our tires sinking into a deepening quagmire and stand in lines for an hour or more, but we did it, laughing all the time.

The supporters of my candidate, Barack Obama, far overwhelmed the 385 folks sitting forlorn in a corner for Hillary Clinton. Maybe it was because my candidate came out a head, but for me who won wasn't as important as the sheer energy and joy I felt in that room.

I heard more than one person say it: What counts is that we take back this country. What counts is that we turn our collective backs on George W. Bush and company.

We stood in dirt. (They normally show livestock in this cavernous building.) We milled about, chatted, kicked the sole soda pop machine when it ran out of cans. The machine emptied almost instantly.

I talked to a woman in her 40s who had forgotten to eat dinner before coming and said she was starving. That didn't matter, she said, it was better to be at the caucus. That was at about 8 p.m. I talked to a couple in their 60s who were thrilled by how the crowd was a mixture of black, white and Hispanic.

I saw a woman who had to be at least 85. She was hunched, with a scarf pulled on her head and bundled in a thick winter coat. She sat on a chair with a walker standing in front of her. And yes, this being the home of the University of Kansas, I saw many college students.

The place boiled with energy. I'm amazed we didn't blow the roof off.

Here are other accounts of the Kansas Democratic caucuses.

blueinks at Daily Kos talks about caucusing in the sleet and without power in El Dorado.

Pam Pholy at Everyday Citizen writes "They braved a blizzard" and provides great photos of the Ellis County caucus.

Ally Klimkoski at Everyday Citizen talks about how the caucuses in one Lawrence location overflowed. (That's the one my son attended. Yay Tony!)

The Lawrence Journal-World provides an overview with details on overflowing caucus sites in Johnson County.

PHOTO: Check out the full photo at the Journal-World site and play "Where's Diane?"

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