As many know Monday night was caucus night in Iowa and I couldn’t be more excited. Not because I’m into politics, the exact opposite actually. I rather detest the state of politics today, usually because traditionally campaigns focus on why other candidates are awful rather than point out the good of their own candidate. All that is accomplished by this tactic is that everyone looks like a terrible prospect for (in this case) president and voters are reduced to trying to find the candidate that they find least offensive. Sounds fun, right? This has been my experience in life up to now.
Ignoring the Republican side for this post (you lot matter, but don’t have much to do with what I’m addressing today) I was delighted to see that there was minimal slashing between Clinton, O’Malley and Sanders. Or at least I wasn’t exposed to much, I don’t have live TV any more so I didn’t see many commercials, but seeing as how I’d do media blackout in the past and was still subjected to awfulness I think it was down in percentage, not gone, I’m sure, but less. Candidates tried to focus more on why they were the best or were pointing out the flaws in the system in general.
Focusing back to Monday. 24 hours before I was certain I would not be caucusing. As stated, I don’t love politics, I don’t like conflict and I felt like I had other things to do that I would enjoy 1000 times more than assembling with my fellow democrats (I can say that now, because I had to finally register to caucus). However, on Monday during my free time I decided to get informed. I read up on the candidates (mainly Clinton and Sanders since they were the front runners) and then on how caucusing worked. I was delighted to learn that I was wrong (how often do people say that). Before that day I thought each precinct had to support just one candidate but no no dear readers, you just need a high enough percentage (15%). I also started thinking about civic duty. We expect a lot from our government, and if I’m going to make demands of it, then I need to do my part too. In this case, being an Iowan, I am called to caucus. So now informed on the candidates (if you look into it, and whittle the answers to their essence (like this site does) you’ll find that Clinton and Sanders have pretty similar views, they are just playing the political game differently) and armed with clarification on how the process worked I made my mind up to go to the assembly.
We arrived about 45 minutes early (that Quarnstrom gene will not be kicked) and I was the 31st person to register. Over the hour that number swelled to 320 (I believe). As I looked around I saw lots of Bernie shirts, Hilary stickers and signs for both. I was glad I had picked between the two of them, there were enough of each to meet the threshold of 15%. Why does that matter? How a democratic caucus works (because yes, our friends on the right run things differently) is that you find out what the threshold for a viable candidate is (for our turnout you needed 47 supporters for any one candidate to be able to get a delegate) and then divide into support groups. For our precinct there were four sections: Clinton, O’Malley, Sanders and undecided. After you divide, you count off to see if you meet the required number. Both the Clinton and Sanders groups qualified but the O’Malley and undecided did not so they needed to pick one of the other candidates. People from both sides went to talk to the dozen-ish people that were left to get them to join them. The people who needed to switch had thirty minutes to decide and then after a few counts Clinton left with four delegates and Sanders left with three.
This neck-and-neck rate was how it ended up for the state, with Clinton earning just .03% more of the vote than Sanders. More is more and for the first time ever (I think) a woman has won the caucus and it seems like everyone is ignoring the fact, instead focusing on faulty coin flips and what not. So, let it be known, I noticed, and I am not alone. A woman “winning” a caucus is a huge achievement (and just 96 years after ratifying the 19th amendment). Another note that should be made is that combined the two had the approval of over 99% of the party. Perhaps a Clinton-Sanders ticket is in our future? I know, not likely, but it’d be nice if they could reunite our party after all the division that has occurred supporting the two. Pipe dreams, maybe, but I’ll hold on to them for now.