I came to Iowa openminded, but wary, about the caucus process as a democratic institution. Of course, I was deeply aware of disproportionately white and nonurban population and how that skewed the issues the candidates talk about. And, the homogenous nature of the population has clearly been obvious as I’ve traveled to events. But, there is an odd upside in that. Because this is such an overwhelmingly white place without the same intensity of race as a dividing line in the state, it has allowed the consideration of an African-American candidate without race being front and center in that evaluation.
But, my shift towards a generally positive evaluation of this process comes from the energy about politics as a way to create change that I’ve seen here continuously in dramatically different ways, the bringing into the process people who have been left out that is possible here (from Huckabee’s voters to Ron Paul’s revolutionaries to Barack Obama’s young people) because of the permeability of that process, and the depth of knowledge about political issues that I’ve seen in questions asked by voters and in conversations I’ve overheard in coffee shops. While the turnout will be low, Iowa voters who engage in the process know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
This thing has flaws, but I must say I trust it more than the megaprimary that’s going to happen on February 5th that will leave many more folks feeling like they’ve been left behind.
Now, I’m off to watch it happen….