Democracy at Work

| 1/4/2008 12:34:43 AM

undefinedUtne Blogs the Iowa Caucuses: The Big Day

Critics can say that Iowa isn’t representative of America as a whole, and that’s true. Its almost 95 percent white, largely rural, and doesn’t even have a pro-sports team. People say there’s too much money flowing through the Iowa caucuses, and that’s probably true, too. Candidates spent millions of dollars over the past few months, trying to sway the opinions of a few hundred thousand voters. No matter what the critics say, however, on Thursday night in the cafeteria of the Merrill Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa, grassroots democracy was hard at work.

Caucus ChairThe Republican caucus was nearby, but I attended the Democratic side. The evening began when the chair, a man  with a long pony tail, mustache, and a t-shirt reading “God Bless Union People, America Needs Us” (seen right), called the meeting to order. “We have some rules for the media,” he said, and the caucus goers responded with thundering applause.

There were 372 people gathered with me in the cafeteria to make their voices heard. There were another dozen or so media correspondents who came out to cover the affair. The “Meat and potatoes” of the evening, the chair said, began when everyone physically separated themselves into camps representing the candidate of their choice. Each candidate needed 15 percent of the group, or 56 people in the Merrill Middle School cafeteria, to remain “viable.”

Here were the initial results:

Results Tally, Iowa CaucusSenator Barack Obama : 155
Senator Hillary Clinton : 77
Senator John Edwards : 67
Governor Bill Richardson : 47
Senator Joe Biden : 34
Kucinich, Dodd, and Gravel: 0

William Hill
1/5/2008 11:23:23 PM

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