Friday, February 14, 2020

To App Or Not To App?

That is not the question.

And here’s why.

Some states’ political parties use the caucus method of choosing their candidate for president.

The reasons given all seem to boil down to the belief that the caucus is face to face, town meeting, Thirteen Colonies style politics.

And that, the caucus states parties assert, is a good thing.

And I think it is.

I speak from personal experience: I caucused in the Democratic contests in Washington State in 2008 and 2016.

To implement that town hall meeting type of politics is, oddly, complicated: initial horse trading begets a vote which begets a winner and one or more non-winners; rather than leaving it at that, in the interest of consensus, the non-winners are asked to horse trade their way into another voting round from which a winner and – perhaps one or more non winners emerge; that goes on until a winnowed, consensus, winner emerges.

The physical mechanics of this process varies by state but that’s more or less the idea.

One of the long term criticisms of the process is that it tends to draw a limited group of participants.

Another is that the rounds of horse trading take a lot of time.

Apparently in response to those – valid – criticisms, various forms of automation – apps – are being adopted.

The problem with that technology adoption is that the availability, reliability, speed and security of currently available networks all put a gaping pothole into the road of implementing a caucus app right at the starting line; and even if data begins to flow down the network, the weirdness of the calculations required seems to quite consistently yield no results or bogus results.

And, even if the calculations consistently work, a table based computer calculation replacing rounds of sweaty, smoke filled room horse trading negates the whole ostensive purpose that has made the caucus the vehicle of choice in the first place.

And the requirement for expensive devices and expensive networks and the expertise to utilize those expensive resources are obvious factors standing in the way of participation.

So the question is why do parties continue to use the caucus at all?

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