Wednesday, April 2, 2008

County Democratic Convention in Texas

I attended the Democratic Party County convention on March 29th. To say it was chaos is an understatement. A twenty minute drive turned into an hour and a half because of a traffic bottleneck. When I reached the Expo Center where the convention was being held, all the close handicapped parking was gone. Absolutely no provision had been made for people like me. I was using a walker, not a wheelchair, so distance from the meeting place was very important. I did manage to make the walk from my car to the Expo Center, but only because I had taken a potent painkiller before I left home. I wonder how many gave up either waiting in the traffic jam or when they realized how far they would have to walk. I do think this location discriminated against the old and the handicapped and therefore against Clinton supporters. I do not think this was a coincidence.

I was directed to the wrong line to check in. Luckily, I used my walker shamelessly to cut in front of people. I really hate to do that, but the ball of my femur is dying and has partially collapsed, so I am walking on dying bone. I cannot stand for any length of time. When I reached the correct line, my name was not on the list. More frustration.

I went looking for my precinct in an arena that was not designed for the handicapped. I entered on the north side, my precinct was on the south side. I could not walk across the arena because the only way down to the arena floor were steep steps. Around the arena I trudged. I was so thankful I had taken the painkiller because even with it, I was hurting.

I reached the other side of the arena and discovered that my precinct was at the top of the bleachers, at least twenty or more steep steps away. As I stared upward, a true gentleman asked if he could help. I told him if he could carry my walker up, I would be grateful. He agreed. Without the walker, I clutched the railing and worked my way up. Once I reached my precinct, I sat down. The gentleman found a place to store the walker. I knew I would not go anywhere else if I could help it.

One of my fellow delegates offered to help with my credential problem. She took my voter registration card and headed off into the chaos of the arena. I really doubted that I would get to vote.

Our precinct was not only high up, but also directly under the air conditioning vents. As the day wore on I got colder and colder, but there was no escape. The narrow metal benches were icy cold and very uncomfortable. Truly, the convention site had been picked for the young and healthy.

Miracles do happen. The woman who took my voter registration card returned with an election official who was able to sign me in and give me a delegate card. I could vote.

The Obama supporters outnumbered us 54 to 14. Three of the Clinton supporters did not show, perhaps discouraged by the crowds or just the location. Nevertheless, we were able to elect one delegate for Clinton out of the five for our entire precinct. We could not elect an alternate.

As I looked at the younger Obama supporters, I came to believe that these caucus sessions are inherently discriminatory because they favor the young, who do not have family commitments, the healthy, who can withstand the physical challenges, and the wealthy because they can afford to hire assistance at home, so they are free to participate.

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