Creating Your Own Caucus
A wonderful British friend, Keith Handley,
recently asked for a clarification of the quaint American
practice of selecting presidential nomination delegates by
caucuses in some states.
I began by clarifying that, as a resident of
Florida, I was more qualified than most to comment on the idea
of a caucus rather than an actual election. Florida, after
all, and especially the counties of South Florida, have had
some historically significant difficulties with the conduct of
elections. Nonetheless, in doing my best to represent the
people of the United States in providing an explanation to my
British friend, it occurred to me that the practice of holding
a caucus has some particularly compelling advantages for every
one of us.
The word "caucus" was most likely derived
from the language of the Algonquin Indians. It refers to the
convening of a meeting or gathering in a common group or
association. The idea is to create or reinforce common
understandings, reach consensus or at least a shared awareness
of each others positions. It has also taken on the meaning of
a secret gathering, such as a closed-door meeting of members
of a political party in a legislature.
At the local candidate selection level, it
refers to people opening up their homes to neighbors who share
a common political perspective for the purpose of the
selection of delegates.
How many of us ever open our homes anymore to
people other than a small circle of acquaintances on rare
occasions? How many of us host a general gathering of people
sharing a common interest, whether the interest is in a
cooking class "progressive dinner," an astronomy club, hosting
a meeting of a charitable or religious organization, etc.?
After all, the prime requirement to host a caucus is that you
be part of some form of association.
We live at the time of a fascinating
worldwide social conundrum. The large majority of Americans
have a home computer and are able to surf the Web or send an
e-mail anywhere in the world. We have powers of communication
and contact never before imagined in prior generations.
We can join chat rooms, discussion forums,
view other peoples YouTube videos, upload photos to public
Web sites, write blogs, be part of online dating services, and
share hopes and dreams with millions of people.
However, we often use these powerful
communication tools by sitting alone for hours at a time in a
closet that we have now remodeled and call a "computer room."
The conundrum is that the more technologically advanced we
seem to be in communications, the less direct connection we
seem to have with others.
Neither do we know our neighbors as perhaps
other generations did, nor do we take much time to have direct
non-electronic communication with them. We dont invite them
over to dinner. We dont necessarily know their names. We
dont often know when events in their lives are taking place
which involve joys to be shared, or sorrows to be comforted.
How ironic that our new forms of "association" involve
disassociation from one another in the direct, interpersonal
So, whether its practical or not, whether
its modern or "cool," or not, the idea of creating a caucus
of your very own, meeting at your own home and the homes of
friends, has a warm practical appeal.
As the beautiful HR Doctor Daughter Rachel
would point out, there are several marker behaviors of people
who will tend to live longer and happier lives than the
average one of us.
Certainly a sense of optimism and a sense of
humor are critical. The HR Dog Kamala would have me remind you
that pet ownership contributes to a longer and healthier life,
especially with a dog who loves to take you out for a long
For the purposes of this article, however,
success and happiness in life relate to being socially engaged
or networked with other people who take the time, without
being asked, to just call you and see how youre doing, as you
should do with them. The way to do that is to deliberately go
about creating such a group of like-minded friends to share
some of those precious moments together, perhaps over a meal,
an evening of conversation or an opportunity to select a
favorite presidential candidate.
If you create a caucus at work, you will be
more successful on the job. If you create your own caucus in
all the major areas of your life, you will be happier, more
successful and just might live longer in the process.
The HR Doctor www.hrdr.net