There is a possibility that when I get home this evening, there will be no messages on my phone. I have been looking forward to that. This past weekend I must have deleted at least two dozen messages urging me to support one candidate or another. I briefly thought how nice it might feel to support whichever campaign had called the fewest times, but I really do try to vote primarily based on issues.
As a resident of Iowa, I get a firsthand view of a process that the rest of the country just reads about in the newspapers. Hmm, do many people still read newspapers? OK, that the rest of the country hears about on TV … or on facebook, or wherever it is people get their information these days.
Anyway, I was one of over 180,000 people who turned out last night to caucus. It was much better organized than when I went in 2008 (I think I missed 2012 but I don’t remember why), which is a good thing because of the record numbers who showed up. The lines to sign in were long, but there was room for the long lines and there wasn’t the pushing and confusion that I remember from 2008.
Then after the long line, there was a long wait, because the lines were even longer now. (I got to the high school plenty early, unlike my older son who managed to get in just in time to be the last in line.) Fortunately I had thought ahead and brought a book to read.
In 2008, they had speeches before everyone was even signed in, which meant I didn’t get to hear much of them. This time it was much better. They waited until everyone was signed in and sitting down (in the bleachers of the gymnasium, at least for our precinct and some others, not sure about the ones who signed in over in the cafeteria), before doing anything else.
Then we started with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a trio singing the national anthem. I don’t remember that from eight years ago either, but I’m sure it was appreciated by the crowd. Then there was the “passing of the hat,” though the “hat” was a cardboard box. I dropped in a couple of dollars, my little contribution to democracy at work. (This helps pay for the expenses of holding the caucus.)
Next we had to elect a precinct committee chair and secretary. Each precinct had a “temporary” chair who had been trained on what needed to be done, and the person announcing what was going on strongly recommended electing the temporary chair as permanent, since the rest of us wouldn’t have had the training. We could nominate someone else, but not surprisingly the temporary chairs were all elected quickly and easily. (Not sure just how “grassroots” this all is, but it was very efficient.)
And then we had the speeches. It was interesting to hear the different speeches, not sure for what was said about each candidate but the kind of people who spoke and what they chose to talk about. Some were elected leaders at the local or state level, while others were clearly not used to giving speeches.
One talked mostly about what was wrong with the country, and only briefly asserted at the end that the candidate she supported was the one who could best fix it. Another gave more info about she candidate supported, but it was mostly what the candidate was against, not what he was for. (Admitted, it’s often far easier to put into words what you’re against than what you’re for.)
I thought a bit about possibly changing my mind who I would vote for, but in the end no one’s speech convinced me. And anyway, I don’t want to select a candidate based on someone else’s ability – or inability – to give a good speech. I was open to supporting either Rubio or Cruz, but chose Cruz as I had read he had the better chance of defeating Trump, at least in Iowa. So I voted for Cruz as a vote against Trump as much as anything else. (But I’m also glad Rubio made a good showing.)
And then it was over. Mark an X on a paper ballot, turn it in and then began the long process of getting out – not quite as long as getting in, but the parking lots had been filled to overflowing, so it took a while.
Now we have a few months – I hope – before the election-related phone calls start up again.