The Day After is a dream. The sun is bright, temperatures mild for January in Iowa, and the phones are silent! You’d think the candidates could figure out that people would either be going to caucus or not at the late date of mid-afternoon of the day of caucus and that no recorded phone call will influence anyone in a positive manner.
Neighbors we often don’t see (what does this say about
our society?) showed up, caught up on news as we registered, looked over platform items, and enjoyed the current art show at our caucus location of CS PS in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Why caucus? It’s a good way to show your interest in your country. OK, that sounds so shallowly “patriotic” but it is true!
Caucus has an interesting history and, depending on your source and philosophical preference, is either an honored Native American tradition of everyone (including children) having a say and a vote on an issue, or comes from the Latin meaning “drinking vessel” or is connected to Tammany Hall shenanigans. Probably all three. But, people gather, talk, persuade, stand together, stand alone, commit or not, and come to some consensus. 15% of the total count of participants are needed for a candidate to advance. If a group has less than 15%, then the individuals can: go as a group to another candidate, split up and go their separate ways, become uncommitted, or go home. The latter is really short sighted, as one can “lobby” for delegates in another “camp” and insist on certain platforms being on the agenda. The platforms really are important.
After viable candidates are selected, delegates are confirmed. These go on to the county, then the state then national conventions. Some change of votes is allowed. Then, the numbers and viable candidates are called in with witnesses making sure all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed, so everything is up-and-up. On to the business of the night. The two parties address the issues and candidate selection very differently. For coverage go to The Gazette and read on. Look at the pictures, too.
The presidential candidates are a small part of the scheme. Granted, they are the “glitzy” part, but truly a small part. The platforms that individuals or groups want advanced are the meat. So, I put mine out there on educational issues. Better pay, reform or repeal of the woefully punitive and underfunded “nickelbee” (No Child Left Behind Act), and support for public education rather than private or charter schools.
Our country is very different from other countries. We have a tremendous opportunity to see initial candidates, not just the few that are put up by the parties in control. To a degree the latter does happen, but Iowans and New Hampshirites show the rest of the country the importance of paying attention, of speaking up, of advancing the country on local issues as well as national and international matters. It starts with One. We are the Power of One. (See Bryce Courtenay). Contrary to the stereotypical images of Iowa and New Hampshire, and remember I am a three-decade resident of the first and a native of the second, both states are more urban and suburban than “rural.” We do have good heads on us, tend to think a bit more independently in some areas than other people in other states, take to matters perhaps a bit more slowly, checking things out before jumping on the bandwagon. Does that make us better? No. Just a bit more realistic. Then again, so the arguments can go on and on. They really miss the point.
We need all sorts to participate. We need many perspectives to work well. We are strongest when we affirm each other and the process…and follow the rules of how candidates are elected. (Think back to 2000)
Keep your eye on New Hampshire and then get ready for Tsunami Tuesday in February. But, remember to watch the other states, too.
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