My Beautiful Wickedness

How do I love the Iowa Caucus System?
December 24, 2007, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Let Iowahawk count the ways, for he is much funnier than I am.

But really, there is some truth in what he says. When I lived in Iowa, I was much much more in touch with national politics than I am living in the state capitol of one of the most influential states in the electoral system. I actually met and talked to presidential candidates in someone’s living room. My neighbors and I took the caucus process pretty seriously and though coffeecake was consumed and hotdish passed, we got involved in issues and asked some intelligent questions.

I have said (and I’m sure it’s not an original thought) that one of the problems with our current political work is that we have accepted the idea of citizens as shareholders — the gov/corp works for you and pays you as an entitled shareholder dividends (that other people shouldn’t get, as they don’t put as much in as you do) and you put in your investment in taxes and that’s that — rather than as stakeholders. The caucus
system obligates adults to be a stakeholder. If you show up at a caucus uninformed and you have to by God get informed before you can vote. You have to be able to weigh evidence and articulate your case. It keeps the media on its toes. It obligates the state to support an educational system that will turn out citizens fit to participate and elect the next President. It continually refreshes the public sphere.

That’s why Iowa needs to be first. Iowa is one of the only states that gets what face-to-face democracy is all about. It requires intelligence, fortitude, moderation, persuasion.

Would it work everywhere? Maybe not. Iowa is a fairly homogeneous place, with its lovely flat featureless plains and its ample rural areas. But I do know that we either have to figure out how to teach people the true meaning of political investment (besides paying taxes and running their mouths) or we can cash out on what we prize most about our democratic institutions.


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