Dispatches from Iowa: The voters

Iowa caucus goers see themselves as the people who help vet presidents.

(Link to the full story here.)

When our production team arrived in Iowa, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect about the caucuses. I had read everything I could to try and understand how they worked and I was, admittedly, still in the weeds.

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered Iowa was more than cows and corn fields from a visit to the Iowa State Fair in 2014. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the Iowans I met were involved and knowledgeable about state politics. The bars and restaurants were abuzz with conversations of politics ranging from Ted Cruz’s visit to agricultural legislation.

In many states, we shuttle into voting booths and preform our civic duty in complete privacy. And some people say that’s to much of a “chore.” But this select group of Iowans, these caucus-goers, are MVPs of democracy. They relish coming together with their friends and neighbors to discuss the issues and make the personal political.  It’s something we citizens could all learn from.

From talking with them over the past 24 hours I’ve discovered how the caucuses take citizen participation to a new level. The exuberance Iowans exhibit over the caucuses is unmatched. Even with an impending blizzard, people are excited to congregate with their neighbors and kick off the start of the presidential elections.

It’s clear that the excitement is contagious. We’ve seen men and women of all ages from all over the world who’ve come to Iowa to contribute in some capacity. Stella Tsantekidou, a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, came from Greece. She came because she believes American politics are important to all countries.

Richard Napieralski from Springfield, MO piled in a van with other Bernie supporters to do his part for his favorite candidate.

And maybe it’s this contagious excitement of being first in the nation to have a say on who should be our next president that drives Iowans to stay informed and involved.

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