Iowa reporting in

Post below begging to hear from Iowa has turned up a caucus goer--or as we have been calling them caucusasians!UPDATE: David Cochran, 2nd Iowan reporting in, is on comments below. Sound like a rousing blow for discussion, debate, and democracy!Here'sKoch's report:I went to my first caucus last night, even though Ive been able to vote for over lets see3 or 4 decades(Yikes!).anyway, my 18 year old son was going (for Obama) and I was undecided but had been impressesd over the years with Biden and Dodd.We went to Irving Elementary School and people were streaming in at 6:15, looking for their ward (or precinctIm not versed in these details). We were directed to the location for our precinct (the library) and when we went in there were 60 some people there, with supporters for a candidate congregated together. Hillary and Obama had the biggest groups, Edwards a smaller one. There were 3 people at a table with the Biden poster up. The organization of this caucus process was a bit lax. As we stood around waiting for the event to begin, my guitar teacher, a Biden supporter, walked in looking for the precinct listings. He wondered if I was supporting Biden and when I told him i was undecided he urged me to go Biden. He noted that BIdens plan to bring order to IRaq had passed the Senate.As we talked, a Richardson supporter came up asking if i would support Richardson. She needed more supporters to make Richardson viable. But since my guitar teacher (and colleague here at University of Northern Iowa) had found me, I took that as a sign (Im hopelessly naive about political convictions!). Our precinct captain had just been asked to organize the caucus a few days ago. He had done this sort of things for years but had been absent for several more years, so he plodded along. When the real caucus began, we Biden supporters numbered 7. So supporters from the other candidates approached us asking us to join them. The man in our group who was use to caucusing went to the Hillary group to see if their extra people would join us to make us viable (we needed 12 supporters to get 15% of the number of supporters).One Obama guy asked me what issues i was concerned about. I had so many, i didnt know where to start. i said, Iraq and education. he then went into a spiel about Obamas plans. Eventually I said, who knows what he can do once hes in office. At this point, I think we need to keep up the exchange of ideas and so Id rather join with another small group to make them viable. So we have 3 groups discussing things. I think the words we need to give us better understandig of our problems are yet to be expressed and will only be expressed if we discuss things. The Obama guy liked that. It ended up the Richardson people joined us and so Biden got one delegate for the county convention.I left with the impression that it is easy to get involved in politicsjust go to a caucus. I could have become a county delegate. And you see all sorts of people there, grumpy children of God, rude children of God. Those precinct caucuses in more depressed areas must really be a revelation. Ones patience would be tested, but i think you would have impressive expereinces of human solidarity and hope (and frustration). I tell students that their liberal education should be showing them how to be civic leaders. I better walk the walk more.

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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