This is the time of year when states that use a caucus system, like Minnesota, will have caucus training. Flawed as it is, it’s part of the package, and if you want to be politically effective, it’s perfectly normal to learn how to do it. We’ve never had a complaint about training people, and it’s bizarre to think that someone would complain about learning basic civic duties.
But then, this is a rather white part of the state. Caucusing while brown would be a whole different story…at least as far as Republicans are concerned.
Warnings from GOP legislators that Muslim voters plan to “infiltrate” Republican caucuses appear to have galvanized Muslim efforts to get out and caucus. But Muslim leaders say the rhetoric has extended well beyond the content that the two Republican representatives have shared.
It started with a Facebook post that said a “Macalester professor from Bangladesh” led a recent caucus training at a mosque. Dave Sina, chairman of the 4th Congressional District GOP, wrote that the training “encourages them to infiltrate them all, Republican, Democratic as well as Green and independent.” The post went on to say that “the easiest is the Republican, because they don’t show up.”
As the article points out, this is training to participate in elections, which has rather different implications than infiltrate. They are proposing entirely legal activities which are in fact encouraged by society. I watched the introduction to this training video on facebook, and while I’m not at all a fan of ISAIAH, a group that tries to encourage non-partisan political partisan by faith groups, everything the speakers say is exactly correct, fair, and just. (I’m not a fan because of sour grapes — I’d like to see more secular training).
But read the comments. People are freaking out. She talks about how to “build political POWER”! The Muslims are going to take over! They’re TAKING OVER! We’re DOOOOOOOOOMED! You can almost hear the shrieks of horror at the idea that minority citizens of the state might actually get out and vote.
By the way, it’s true that Republican caucuses are small. At the last one, the Republicans just held it at someone’s house; the Democrats took over a big meeting room at the big bar in town, and had volunteers at stations to help guide the mobs of people who showed up to their positions and to explain the procedures. It was standing room only.