January 05, 2008

I came, I saw, I caucused

I arrived at my polling place at the local elementary school at 6:30 as suggested and when I entered I found myself in the middle of a raucous sea of caucus goers and a feeling of excitement filled the air. Being a caucus novice I took a moment to survey the situation and soon realized by the posters and buttons that this was the democratic caucus. I was obviously in the wrong place. At the other end of the hallway, quietly queued to enter the school gymnasium were my fellow republicans.
The event opened with about a hundred republicans from two different precinct's joining in the Pledge of Allegiance. We were then given two minutes each to stand up and make a case for our candidate. I cringed as one little mousy girl opened her statement by saying she liked Huckabee because he is an evangelical Christian and she then went on to read several pages from Huckabee's web site. She was followed by a young guy that qualified his remarks by telling us that he has been a history teacher for six years and was supporting Ron Paul because he supports the constitution. Who could be against the Constitution? That's like being against mom and apple pie for heavens sake, but did he listen to anything else Paul was saying? The last one to speak was an old gentleman that said he had spent the last six month investigating Romney's experience and had traveled around the state to hear him speak. After the vote most stayed behind to hear the results but few stayed for the party platform and election of delegates.
The Republicans were, shall I say, rather conservative. There was not the buttons, banners and cajoling of fellow caucus goers but instead a certain seriousness in the choices that people had made. If you want a raucous caucus good time I think you go with the Dems, but then again if your candidate gets less than 15% of the vote you don't have to make a second choice. One person one vote, hey, what a concept.
In my precinct Huck beat Mitt by a couple votes with Thompson a distant third. On the other end of the gym Huckabee beat Romney by three to one. That was kind of a shock but in a such a small group it didn't take much to skew the outcome.
You can argue that this process gives Iowa too much power, (I would disagree) and that other places more representative of America should go first. (that may be true) but one thing is certain. Overall caucus goers are a group of deeply interested, dedicated, super voters that take this process and their responsibility to it very seriously and Iowa as whole is also willing to be the stage for a wide range of candidates to roll out their positions not only for itself but for the nation in a very intimate and open process. That is something I don't believe you would get in very many places.

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