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Let's Caucus About the Caucus


Well, it's official. I am a political geek. While most of Lawrence cheered about the Jayhawks winning Virginia Tech, I cheered about Barack Obama winning the Iowa Democratic Caucus. How did this happen? When did a cynical 31 year old with no party affiliation start taking a genuine interest in the political process? Maybe it is the war.... or the economy... or the fact that motherhood has given me a vested interest in the future of our country. But whatever the reason, I was glued to MSNBC not ESPN last night. So, what do a couple of meetings in Iowa really mean in the grand scheme of things?Basically, it's about momentum. The Iowa Caucuses are the first chance candidates get to prove themselves. Obama showed that he can bring in the young people, Huckabee showed us he can carry that evangelical clout, Ron Paul proved that his supporters weren't accurately portrayed by polls, and McCain... well, McCain found out he really needs to win New Hampshire. From here, the campaigns realize who the real competition is and can stradegize about how to move forward. I think Obama will get a huge boost. In his post-caucus appearance, he spoke of change and unity with such passion analysts are comparing him to Bobby Kennedy. This probaby means it is time for the competition to attack him. It is easy to make predictions, but once the results from New Hampshire come in, everything can (and will) change. I think what's exciting about the Iowa Caucuses is the knowledge that election year has begun. Democracy is at work, things can be changed and this is the first step in the process.


antney 9 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Marlo for your insightfull blog.

I too was thrilled to see the underated Jayhawks and Obama win last night.

Barrack Chalk Jayhawk!

grimpeur 9 years, 11 months ago

There was a caucus last night? You wouldn't know it by looking at the LJW today. ZERO.

"Important game." Right up there with "reality television."

Priorities, people.

Jerry Elliott 9 years, 11 months ago

marlo--nice read. we jayhawks forgive the film maker from new york for the slippage. i like your insight. jerry

KU_cynic 9 years, 11 months ago

I'm a transplant from Iowa with a lot of caucus experience. I attended Republican caucuses in 1980 with my parents and later was a precinct captain for a second-tier democratic candidate during my college days in 1988 (I was young and idealistic then, and I suffered from the delusion that college democrat girls had looser morals than republican girls -- the opposite may very well be true).

But, in spite of my nostalgia and my proud Iowa roots, I have to say that the Iowa caucuses are an unproductive diversion. As noted in many recent editorial columns, Iowa voters have only infrequently backed the ultimate party nominees and eventual victors (not counting incumbent presidents); Jimmy Carter's victory in 1976 unfortunately set in motion the idea that an insurgent candidate could launch himself out of Iowa into national victory. While Iowans are some of the nicest and most common-sense people in the country, Iowa is not representative of national demographics in general (think race and age) or even on major issue divides within the two parties (e.g., the appeal of populist democrats like Gephart and Edwards and the undue influence of evangelicals in their support of Republican candidates like Pat Robertson and Huckabee).

So, Iowa seldom picks a winner, big deal you might say, it's democracy in action. Well, the big deal is that while Iowans are bombarded by campaign ads and candidate visits the rest of the country is largely neglected and left to pick over the last men standing in their later primaries (anyone think Kansas will matter one hoot?). And, since most candidates (Rudy Guliani excepted this year, it seems) seldom want not forgo campaigning in Iowa, we get a distortion in issue politics -- like too much pro-life rear-end kissing among Republicans (although I too am pro-life) and unthinking support for costly and inefficient agricultural policies like overly generous farm subsidies and ethanol subsidies.

The selection process has to start somewhere, but to my thinking it might be nice to break the Iowa/New Hampshire stranglehold on the early part of the process and rotate early primaries every four years among groups of three-to-five diverse states. Let's give other Americans get a taste for screening and selecting candidates for the presidency.

David Lignell 9 years, 11 months ago

Hi KU_cynic. I thought your post was balanced and insightful. I hadn't thought about breaking away from the Iowa/New Hampshire stranglehold, but your argument makes a lot of sense. Absolutely, let's rotate early primaries and give other, diverse states early representation.

bilabila 9 years, 11 months ago

well am glad to see that someone else out there is excited about what is going on. I rather wait and see who is going to win before I throw my weight one way or the other. that doesn't mean I don't have my preference....may be a bit bias as I am currently doing a student internship for Obama. I am with you on politics being very important. I know many are watching but I hope that they are listening too. Our caucus will be in February and in order to take part you must be in line by 7pm at the Armory....so I hope to see you there. I will be there with my Obama pin but more importantly I will be there to support anyone looking for change.

Liberal Independent for Change

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