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Our real grassroots | Editorial
The Democrats in control in Olympia did us a favor by killing off the presidential primary in an effort to save money.
As a result, real grassroots politics returned Saturday to hundreds of Republican Party gathering places around the states. The main business was to select delegates to the upcoming county conventions, but an important side show was the presidential election straw poll, in which caucus-goers picked their preference among GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
As the caucus sites were crowded on both North and South Whidbey, the debate on the candidates was limited but spirited. It was no doubt spurred by the extremes represented by some of the candidates. While Romney and Gingrich try their best to appeal to the middle, Santorum has his sights set on religious conservatives. Paul is a candidate of a different color, who at age 76 has a strong following among the youth of America. Paul is the first major party candidate since Sept. 11, 2001, to stress individual liberty even if it means being a little less safe. He doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning, but he’s already won in the sense by making constitutional principles an issue again.
It was fun and educational to observe supporters of each candidate spend their allotted seconds in front of an interested and feisty crowd, which cheered and applauded each comment they agreed with.
Although Mitt Romney won the straw poll countywide, the other candidates had plenty of support. It was a heartening exercise in grassroots democracy even though the votes didn’t count. This state’s Republican preference for president won’t be finalized until the delegates to the national convention are selected.
For the thousands of Washingtonians who didn’t attend the caucuses, it’s too bad because they missed witnessing how candidates were selected before the primary election process came to dominate national politics.
As Whidbey Islanders showed Saturday, neighbors talking passionately about crucial national issues is really what it’s all about.