Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Caucus Process

I've been rather busy the last few days with all the different things that make up my life. Today was rather a big day here in the dreary state of Washington, as Washingtonians went to their caucuses to choose the state's delegates for the Democratic presidential race.

I was rather inspired to caucus today and participate in what many are calling one of the most pivotal elections of our time. What fun to see a woman and a man of color running head-to-head in such a historic race. So as I arrived at my polling place I expected to find rows of friendly caucus organizers lining the halls with stickers and clipboards and making check marks as they pointed people to their rooms and we all went on our marry-caucus way.

Instead, T.T. Minor elementary was snarled at the main entrance, where a crowd of people from all walks of life were fighting just to get out of the rain, much less participate in a presidential election. But the craziness at the doorway was just the beginning of what would turn out to be a rather disappointing afternoon of frustrated caucusers, unorganized (and far too many) caucus organizers and people who really wanted to get involved in their community - and their country - and make a difference but were at the wrong caucus location, couldn't find their precinct room, or were just plain fed up with the whole process itself.

Leaving the caucus, I felt rather discouraged. Sure, I had gone in, helped in any way I could, written down my general information and who I preferred for the race and then scooted away; all done. Processes - whether it's to elect a candidate, an official, or even just how to make a morning cup of coffee (which I do for a living) - are all different, and everyone feels as though their way is best, but that's not always the case. I think you can chalk the caucus process (in my opinion) up in the "bad process" column... there's just got to be a better way.

When I left the caucus, I rode the bus down to campus and got to thinking about how many issues swirl around this globe every day. Clinton, Obama and all the other candidates have had to speak to these issues day in and day out of the campaign, and eventually one of them will take office in hopes of making this world a better place.

That's something I want to achieve in my life: making the world a better place. I often wonder what role tennis has to do with that. I am passionate about the game of tennis, and about my writing and what impact they both have on society. Is tennis just a sport for the rich and powerful? Has professional tennis warped into a game of advertising moguls and diva millionaires?

In a lot of ways I think that yes, it has. But at the same time, I think the complete opposite. I look at the elite of the game and see many socially-aware players who do their part to be diplomats and agents of social change, but meanwhile take million-dollar contracts with corporations and play a wasteful and often times frivolous.

As I move toward college graduation I am starting to analyze the 'big picture' more often. Perhaps I should give up on my dream of sitting court-side at Wimbledon documenting the final and instead find a path of change and good that might do what these candidates are trying to do.

For now, I'll take solace in being a student... four more months of this dream world!


Johanna said...

You bring up an interesting issue - what is the value of tennis in a world needing a lot of help coping with poverty, destruction of our environment, discrimination, war... Sports, at its most basic value, can offer distraction to its viewers, but even more, offer inspiration and heart. Though inspiration is intangible, I believe such feelings can influence positive actions, for the good of others, community and oneself (there are examples of this with international humanitarian work, using sports as a development tool). Specifically, I think tennis is a great venue for showing inspiration and courage since it's just two or four people slugging it out... "Winners take chances and pressure is privilege" can work for everyone. Thanks for your blog!


Nick McCarvel said...

Thanks for your thoughts Johanna. Tennis is certainly a venue for inspiration and courage, I just hope that players are able to carry such heart beyond the court in what they do with their lives.

And I love that quote from BJK, it seems as they it might take on some what of an iconic (in tennis terms) stature: "Winners take chances and pressure is privilege."

So true.