Iowa can appear, on the surface, to be a lonely state with vast open farm fields and few population centers. More than two times as many people live in New York City (8.5 million) as in Iowa (3 million). More than three times as many people live in the District of Columbia (658,000) as in Des Moines (207,000). So why should we care what happens when the people of Iowa gather in caucuses tonight to declare their preferences for the presidential nominees of each party?
The Iowa Caucuses — not really primary elections, but a citizen-driven choice process nonetheless — are a quintessential American political event. Since 1972, these local gatherings of voters throughout the state of Iowa have become the opening bell for the presidential primary season. While the results of the caucuses rarely anoint the ultimate nominees of either party, the process has a way of winnowing the field, strengthening the positions of some candidates and posing complex challenges to those who might appear to be front-runners.
Yes, it seems like we’ve been in the presidential primary season for decades, and yes, it would be so good if we could get to the party conventions more quickly. The media din, dominated by too many shrill voices and not enough insightful analysis of issues, has made this season even more tedious and distracting. The primary season thus far has seemed more like a reality TV show that has run its course rather than a profoundly serious effort to discern who can truly lead this nation in such difficult times. Should the loudest voices win? Should the candidate with the deepest pockets dominate? Have we really heard how the candidates will tackle some of our most pressing national issues — jobs, poverty, education, gun violence, racism and declining equal opportunity? We seem to hear a lot about building walls to keep people out but little about how the next leader will serve the people who are still living inside these borders.
You may never set foot in Iowa, but you should pay close attention to what’s happening in the Iowa Caucuses tonight — and in the New Hampshire primary next week on Tuesday, February 9. This nation is about to elect a president — always a consequential choice, but in this historic era with so much change in the wind, a choice that could truly determine the fate of our lives for decades to come. Pay attention! More to come on this blog as the election season moves ahead…
If you were at the Iowa Caucuses, for which candidate would you stand up to be counted? Comment on the link below….