Category Archives: Politics

Caucus talk: Why the world might miss Iowa’s circus afterall

As Obama was claiming victory in Wisconsin – and Drake was losing at home – I was lucky enough to participate in an exploration of the future of the Iowa caucuses.

Again, the list of participants was spectacular. Of the 15 or so in attendance, two were former Iowa lieutenant governors – Sally Pederson and Joy Corning – and leading a portion of the discussions was The Des Moines Register’s Rox Laird. The rest…well, they were merely university professors and leaders in industries ranging from finance to marketing.

But the real beauty of this discussion was the lack of egos and pageantry. Above all, we were Iowans discussing an integral part of our culture – the caucus.

Here’s some really thought provoking concepts I brought home:

  • The future of the Iowa caucus rests largely with who wins the general election. If it’s Obama, the circus will return. If it’s McCain, it’s hard to say. If it’s Hillary, well, it’s been a fun ride.
  • After some 36 years of practice, Iowa needs more practice. Every precinct offers a different experience.
  • The ability to vote is something that doesn’t exist for the majority of the world. There’s something significant about doing it in front of your neighbors.
  • The Iowa caucuses force candidates to treat voters (if only a small pool of them) like human beings.
  • In the Democratic caucus, there’s no such thing as a wasted vote.
  • Seeing a young person vote is something that never gets old.

That’s just a few of some of the great ideas thrown around over the course of the evening. And while we weren’t able to say for sure what is to become of all this, we were able to lay out some reasons why the world might miss our show.

Ultimately, I walked away feeling that there is some real magic to the caucus process. There’s no denying the imperfections, the goofy rules and the general madness that is the Iowa caucuses. But past those initial observations lies an undeniable energy and passion – which I believe is a product of what the caucuses should really be considered: A celebration of democracy.

Keep an eye on the Wallace House Foundation for further reflection on the evening.

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Caucus for Kucinich…because when else can you logically vote for that guy?

As I mentioned in my last post, tomorrow evening I’m going to be sitting in on a discussion with some people a whole lot smarter than me, talking about the Iowa caucus of 2012.

If you’ve got three minutes to waste and need a little clarification on the caucus process, watch this video.

There’s plenty of fairly compelling arguments as to why the whole caucus system is at best flawed, and at worst a grand act of disenfranchisement of the American peeps. Try Googling “Iowa caucus sucks.” Or just click here, here or here.

But for all the reasons to hate on the goofy caucus system, it’s got one, gigantic thing going for it. Something that can’t be logically claimed in any other form of voting:

There’s no wasted votes.

Well, at least on the Democrats’ side – you have multiple opportunities to change your preference. So you can stand in front of the world, if only for a few moments, and declare your burning passion for Dennis Kucinich and his lack of strings (seriously, click that link) – only to eventually jump on board with the a mainstream campaign. Or, if you’re really dedicated, go down swinging, vote uncommitted.

There’s just nowhere else you’ll do that – in front of your neighbors, no less.

Sure, there’s a mob mentality aspect to it. People get worked up, there’s shouting and cheering.

But to me, I say that’s the real beauty of it. Like anything really important, like anything you really believe in, why not stand up and do it?

BTW – Roughly $50 million was spent on Iowa voters – at 346,00 voters, that’s $144.50 a vote!

…as I said earlier, tomorrow I’ll be around much smarter people than I, talking about the caucus of 2012. I’ll pass on anything interesting.

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Planning the next party

The battle for presidential nominations has long moved on from Iowa. The whole thing now feels of the morning after a college party – the lingering smell of old booze, scattered debris and plenty of stories to share.

And like any good party folk, we’re already thinking about our next bash.

The Wallace House Foundation – where I worked as a marketing intern during my senior year of college – is hosting a “Dialogue Dinner” focusing on issues relating to the Iowa caucus of 2012.

The list of participants is stellar. It includes a couple former lieutenant governors, university professors and influential journalists.

I was lucky enough to nab one of the final couple of seats at the dinner table with these folks, and I’m curious to see how the discussions evolve.

The caucuses have big implications for Iowa – we’re talking big money, big attention and some real power. Those are things that, frankly, don’t come Iowa’s way all that often.

And while I’m certainly interested in the political implications of all this, there are bigger things lurking here. In an era of everyone clamoring for “change,” there’s no reason to believe the current nomination process won’t evolve as well.

Maybe it should. Maybe it shouldn’t.

But either way, this dialogue is about more than simple politics. We’re talking Iowa’s brand, the future of participatory democracy and how to make it easier to change the world. Or at least that’s what I’d like to talk about.

Much more on this over the next 48 hours.

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