By Kia Sims
As a college student you are surrounded by people who think that there are more important things in life than politics. Mostly because they think that it doesn’t affect them or they simply just don’t have time to follow it. It can be really easy to lose your faith in democracy because you think that people simply just don’t care. For anyone who feels this way you might want to take a trip to Iowa to help restore your faith in the democratic process. It is hard to imagine a process in which neighbors and friends debate which candidate they will support and why, or to think of a place where anyone can become a very important part of the election process. However, Iowa is just that place during the presidential process. It is just what the forefathers imagined. Communities coming together and sharing their thoughts and opinions in order to make a well-informed decision on whom they want to vote for as president.
The Iowa caucuses are where presidential candidates will either die or thrive. Iowa is known for winnowing the field of candidates and about half of the candidates will have dropped out of the race between Iowa and the New Hampshire primary. The people of Iowa know this and they take the special task of weeding out presidential candidates very seriously. They take the time to learn about the candidates and their policies. They come to a candidate’s event ready to ask questions and they really listen to what they have to say. But they also expect the candidates to listen to them and their concerns and have reasonable solutions for them. Imagine that, a race where those who wish to run for the nation’s listen to actual people, rather than just assuming information about them based on data. If you want to do well in Iowa, you have to work for your vote. Its not enough to fly into a city, give a speech and leave. Intimacy is a very important part of the campaigning process. Candidates have events in local bars, restaurants and schools so they can really tap into the community. The candidates are put on the spot and asked the questions that are important to that community. Many Iowans will not even vote for a presidential candidate if they have never seen them or been able to shake their hand. Meaning, the candidates are at the mercy of the citizens of Iowa and they have to be able to satisfy their very high expectations for political candidates.
The best part of the caucus process is that anyone in the community can get involved. You don’t have to be a political elite to get involved in the election process. The participants in the process are normal Iowans from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds. Everyday citizens can sign up to be a precinct captain and organize the supporter of their candidate. A regular citizen can sign up to go door knocking and convince others to vote for the candidate they are supporting. People in Iowa truly feel as if they are a part of the election process, which is a feeling that every American should have.
I also waked away with a better understanding of every candidate. Researching a candidate and watching interviews on television is one thing, but you get a true sense of who the candidate is by sitting in the same room as them. For example, I could have never imagined Chis Christie as a viable presidential candidate, but I walked away from his event extremely impressed with him and his ability to connect with his audience.
It is impossible for the caucus process to happen in every state because its such a time consuming process and would make the election season extremely long. The caucus is something that every person should experience in their lifetime. You walk away with a restored faith in the democratic process because of all the thought people put into making a decision. You understand a sense of community by watching community members come together and organizing for candidates.
The media may turn Iowa into a media circus around caucus time, but they are covering them for the wrong reasons. The media like to show how candidates are rising and falling the polls, but they fail to really show the rest of the country the work that regular, everyday people are doing to pick a candidate. The Iowans are getting it right. Anyone who wants to be the President of the United States should be at the mercy of regular citizens while campaigning and this same expectation should be carried over into their presidency. Going to Iowa will show anyone that people still care about politics and the democratic process and the rest of the country could learn a lot from the Iowans.