So, you want to be a Delegate?

That’s right folks, it’s caucus and convention time again!

Who needs the Super Bowl?  This is what we political groupies live for.  Those of you that have just started are probably feeling like deer on a freeway though.  The whole process is a bit confusing.  It’s like watching a football game without knowing the rules.  It’s designed with the best intentions, but we know where those roads lead.  Seriously, the process is designed to figure out what people are feeling and what they want to do.  That’s a good thing, right?

Why would anyone want to be a delegate?  Look at it this way, it’s better to be at the table than on the menu.  It takes real work to get causes and candidates that you support to become reality or get in office, but you don’t have to work alone—the entire state DFL is working together to champion the causes and candidates that its members have voted on.

The best way to get your way is to collect or join a group of people that think like you do and stand up and be heard.  That’s where you get to select or become a delegate to represent that group of people.  That’s the basis of the government of the USA.  It’s government (or in this case, party governance) “By the people for the people”. That starts at the Precinct Caucuses.

What the heck is a caucus?   It’s just a group of people.  Think of it as a band of merry minstrels or pirates.  The goal is to make changes that you want to see.  In the political world, voices of individuals get drowned out, but the voices of groups that vote together get listened to (also those with lots of money, but that’s another story).  If you don’t have money but you want to be heard, you need to form a group.  That’s why there are political parties.  Precinct Caucuses are your neighbors getting together to choose people to represent them, their delegates.  This is the first step towards taking part and being heard. (See the article “What the Heck is a Caucus” in the Caucus page

Now what?  You’re a delegate, that means that you get to vote for candidates for the DFL to endorse.  The endorsed candidates have the advantage of using our network of volunteers and resources.  The voting happens at Endorsing Conventions.  You’ve seen the big national conventions, but there are several other layers of endorsing conventions that take place.  The most local level is the Senate District (SD).  You won’t get to vote to endorse state-wide candidates at the SD Convention.  There are separate endorsing conventions for every level like State Senator (and Representative), US Congressional Representative, and state-wide office like Governor and US Senator.

In Minnesota we’re all represented by a State Senator.  That senator has a district that is set after the census every ten years.  Each senate district is divided in half (an A side and a B side), and each side has its own representative.   The local state SD has a convention to choose local candidates to endorse.  You now get to go to that convention and listen to the speeches, and vote for candidates for the State House and Senate plus county commissioners.  But wait… There’s more!  Holy Smokes, these people want to talk about all kinds of other organizational things, like constitutions, rules, resolutions, platforms, and fundraising.  That’s rightfolks, there’s actual work to do to get people elected.  There’s not some magical force in the universe that steps in and gets the job done.  Well, there actually is, but it’s YOU!

The whole thing runs because of hours of work done by people like you that got tired of watching and want to take part.  Maybe someone got elected that you loathe, and you won’t stand for it.  Maybe you’re recently retired and now you’re bored.  Maybe you’re just a little weird and need other wierdos to hang out with. Thomas Edison said that any invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  This is the room where it happens.

That’s right, you’re a part of the process now, and it takes some elbow grease to get things done.  Other things that happen at the SD convention are: electing officers of the local SD party unit; electing delegates to Congressional District and State conventions; electing members of the State Central Committee, and voting on resolutions and platforms.

Then we’re done, right?  Not by a long shot, Bucky.  This is just the start of the fun.  If you want your voice to continue being heard, the next level up is the Congressional District (CD) convention.  That’s right, they have a convention too.  The people that get to vote in that convention are elected at the SD convention.   The delegates AND ALTERNATES to the State Convention all get to vote in the CD Convention. They get to vote for our local US Congressional Representative among other things. The next level is the State Convention, where the candidates for Governor and other statewide officers are endorsed.  This is the convention that also chooses who will go to the Democratic National Convention as delegates to choose the Democratic Presidential nominee, so this is the big money.

There are other levels of participation that are available to stalwarts and political junkies.  Each convention has committees that work on making them happen.  There are committees on constitutions, rules, arrangements, credentials, and resolutions among others.

All politics are local.  If you want to be one of the people that nominates the presidential candidate, you need to get involved at the local level and have connections with people that will vote for you.  That starts at the precinct caucuses and SD Committee level.  The dates of all of these conventions plus a lot more are available on our party unit’s website and in the DFL Call

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