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  • A lot of people’s first encounter with this word must be in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, where a bemused Alice participates in a ‘caucus race’, which may or may not be a satire on the futility of politics:

    `What I was going to say,’ said the Dodo in an offended tone, `was, that the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race.’

    `What IS a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.

    `Why,’ said the Dodo, `the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

    First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’