By Mike Robinson
The choices for activities on a wintry evening in the American Heartland are fairly limited. As for me, on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m., I will be attending my precinct caucus, and I encourage everyone who is able to do the same. Here are some reasons to enroll at your precinct caucus.
First, the precinct caucuses are an open invitation to participate in discussions relevant to one’s community, state and nation. Participants can endorse federal candidates, socialize with friends, neighbors and other like-minded people from within their area, and vote on the concepts that represent the values of the hosting political party. These valued ideas are collected in the party platform, which discusses and categorizes a large variety of subjects influencing everyday life.
Caucusgoers are encouraged to submit for consideration platform resolutions that they feel would benefit the greatest number of our citizens. The entire caucus then votes on the resolutions that best reflect the values of the party, the state and/or the United States as a whole.
Second, the Iowa caucuses are party-building opportunities. Participants must declare a party of preference. For some folks, political alignment is not something they are interested in, and we respect that decision. However, all attendees are provided the ability to advance within their party of choice. A person can vie for convention delegate or alternate, volunteer for pre-convention committees, or run for one of two seats as precinct committee person.
An elected precinct person represents his or her voter precinct for a two-year term of office in a legal, political organization for a particular county. A convention delegate or alternate reports to the county convention, meets with candidates for office and votes on the county platform and for select county officials. That person also may seek nomination to the district and state conventions held later this year.
Last, there is a larger meaning in attending one’s precinct caucus. After the first Democratic caucuses were held in 1968, Iowa has become the envy of every state because we have maintained a consistent, first-in-the-nation status since that time. The importance here is that tiny, Midwestern Iowa is made relevant on an electoral map dominated by the heavily populated U.S. coastal and southwestern regions. Without our caucuses, we would not enjoy the close contact with candidates in which we have come to accept as part and parcel of our lives here; campaigns might be inclined to forego a trip through the Heartland altogether.
The Iowa caucuses, even in the non-presidential election years, are important because of the reasons above, but, perhaps most significantly, they offer a citizen with a forum for his or her voice. And isn’t that a truly rare item in our world today?
To find your precinct caucus, consult The Gazette online, your county auditor’s website or the website of your political party of choice. See you at the caucuses.
Mike Robinson is a Central City Council member and a former chairman of the Linn County Democrats. Comments: Mikeccia.mr@gmai