Why attend a Democratic Caucus tonight?
By Helen Hotchkin, Grinnell
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.
When Teddy Roosevelt paraphrased that West African proverb in a speech in 1903 he might have been talking about the Iowa Democratic Caucus procedure.
The Iowa caucus is a long time tradition that is the first step in the long electoral process. Unlike Republican Caucus’ there won’t be anyone there giving loud, blubbery speeches. There won’t be any hoopla or fan-fare. We don’t even have secret ballots to fill out. The Iowa Democratic Caucus is a quiet, neighborly gathering where the most exciting thing that happens is when they divide the people into groups according to your selected candidate. Participants are given 30 minute intervals to convince their neighbors to support their candidates. Then, they look at the top of your head and count you as a vote. In turn, your head count ultimately serves as a good indicator of the next presidential candidate to be nominated for the Democratic party.
Though that seems rather simple, it’s actually a more complicated process than the Republican Caucus’.
Democrats are working hard to throw some fireworks under the Lame Duck Congress that has plagued our nation for the last several years. The expansion of Democrats to Congress, particularly Bruce Braley to the US Senate, and finally unseating Gov. Branstad are top priorities this election.
The driving focus of many attendees tonight will be raising minimum wages, controlling fracking which is a fast growing national industry that is a big threat to our drinking water supplies, keeping the Affordable Care Act intact without additional price-gouging loop-holes for pharmaceutical companies, and the abuse and air pollution of hog confinements springing up throughout the mid-west.
If you’ve always wanted to shout your opinion from the rooftops, attending the Iowa caucus is not the place to do that exactly. But, you can take pride in getting your head counted among your neighbors and peers who support the same ideals and patriotic goals as yourself.
Iowa Caucus begins at 7 p.m tonight, January 21; registration begins at 6:30. In Poweshiek County, the Democratic Caucus will be held at the Rosenfield Center at Grinnell College. In Mahaska County, the Democratic Caucus will be held on the 3rd floor of the court house. You must be registered as a Democrat to count as a vote, but observers are also welcome.