|My voter registration card. Photo by J. Berta|
In nine days, it will be over. Gone will be the attention lavished on us out here in frozen flyover country by the press. The candidates will be gone as well. For some, their journeys will be brief, as their campaigns will be soon coming to an end. For others, a long slog awaits through the south and the rest of the primary season.
For us in Iowa, February 2nd will mark the return to normalcy. The Iowa Caucuses, the first in the nation presidential contests, will be in the history books. Even the most hard-core political enthusiast will likely (yet silently) breathe a sigh of relief. For many other Iowans, it will be a giant cheer. "Hooray! No more phone calls, or junk mail, or calls from surveys or campaigns!"
Until then, there is one more week to go. This is truly the home stretch. Although the polls have been reasonably accurate over the past few cycles, there is always the wild card of who will actually come out to participate. Unlike primaries, to engage in the caucus process, one must commit a period of time to gather and engage with one's neighbors to some extent about the issues of the day. I will be curious to see just how many of a certain candidate's supporters will actually show up on caucus night. We shall see.
I am excited that my oldest daughter can participate, as she'll be eligible to vote in the general election. Both my wife and I plan on attending as well.
Participating can mean different things to different people. For some, it will be a quiet display of support for a candidate. For others, it will be a loud expression of support for a cause that transcends any one candidate. I like to think that for all attending the caucuses, they will feel a sense of civic pride. They all should.
I may have some other comments on this process and might even write about my own choice on caucus night. For now, I will say this: I find no perfect choice.
I don't envy those who have found their candidate, I'm happy for them. Even those who support a certain one (whose name I shall not mention), if their intent of support is pure and genuine, then so be it.
I have particular admiration for those who are supporting a candidate that has no chance of winning. There are candidates who are polling in the low single digits. Their campaigns, like a lawn mover running out of gas, will cough along for a few more weeks before fading away. Until that day, supporters, perhaps only a handful, will cheer them on. As well they should.
For my adult life and even prior to that, I've never had a challenge rallying to a candidate. Not so this year. If you'd read my blog, you might have noticed how I have commented on the evil of ISIS. While I do not favor single issue politics, I see this year as different. I see the defeat of this barbaric terror group to be THE issue. To say I am disappointed with the candidates' responses would be an understatement. As mentioned above, I may comment more on this subject in a few days.
For now, I'll simply say that while I wish there was a "perfect" candidate for me. There is not. Then again, the sheer fact I would even think there is such a candidate is a new low in my sense of entitlement.
There can never be a perfect candidate. The reason is simple. To be a candidate, one has to be a person first. And people are flawed.
Yet flawed is fine, to an extent. For within one's flaws can lie an authenticy, an authenticy that can knock down the walls of bluster and rage and naivity and cynicism.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of Democracy in America, wrote: "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, Amercia will cease to be great."
Yes, America is still good. And because "good" is less that "great," there is the room in good (or goodness) for flaws.
So to those of you reading this that live in Iowa, go out and caucus on February 1st. Don't worry if you don't find your perfect choice, find one with flaw, just flaws you can accept.
And by participating, by making the commitment to both choose and accept the less-than-perfect candidate, you're embracing, continuing and renewing the greatness of America.
I'm convinced if Mr.de Tocqueville de Tocquevilde Tocqueville were to make another visit to America, Iowa to be precise, next Monday night, and watch our caucus process, he'd agree America is doing just fine.
Be well my friends,