Keep Caucuses

Shoshie Hemley, Opinion and Social Media Editor

In the age of Trump, there has been a lack of political accountability. People are embarrassed to admit they belong to a political minority or share bigoted views. If you’re not a vocal supporter of a candidate, chances are you’re keeping your vote a secret, which there’s often a reason behind. While everyone has the right to keep their vote secret, it allows people to vote for bad politicians with no accountability. This is why caucuses are important.

Standing in a room with dozens to hundreds of your fellow party members, neighbors, and friends watching, causes voters to have to own up to who they vote for. When you’re aware that people you know will see who you vote for, it means you’re forced to bear more responsibility for which candidate you choose. If someone is embarrassed of their political views, they’re likely not good ones; this means they’ll be more likely to be swayed to a more respectable candidate. 

However, it’s not only people watching you that results in people switching between candidates. Discussion is one of the most important aspects of the caucuses, and what makes them so interesting. Before you vote, you have the opportunity to engage in political discussion with those you know, which is often deemed inappropriate or simply refrained from. This is another great way to see what your neighbors’ views are, keeping each other accountable. This discussion can do more than keep each other accountable, however. It allows people to have time to convince each other to vote for the other candidate. While some may deem this unproductive, in an era of immense political polarization, where even within party lines, there is immense conflict, this is one of the only times fellow party members can listen to one another. For people with varying political beliefs, it’s rare for people to listen to each other these days. The caucuses allow for that discussion, and allow for people to listen to each other; that’s the point of the entire night. While the Democratic party is divided as ever, hopefully, moving forward from the caucuses, at least Iowa Democrats can feel a stronger sense of unity. The discussion and accountability a public vote brings forward is an attempt at keeping the corrupt world of politics honest, keeping the politicians themselves accountable as well. 

While many are against the fact that Iowa is the first in the nation to vote in the primary, it forces presidential candidates to focus on a part of the nation they are quick to forget once they’re voted into office. Rural states like Iowa make up the entire central area of the United States, however, Presidents are quick to forget about their nation’s food providers. The caucuses, while only every four years, are a way to force politicians to remember the often forgotten states. While yes, it does result in quite a bit of overrepresentation for a heavily white and rural state, it’s a rare representation that the state still needs. 

While, yes, there are some inefficiencies regarding the caucuses, there are solutions. It is true that it is difficult for those who are disabled to be able to caucus, however, due to the American Disability Act, their caucus sites should be accessible. Furthermore, while childcare is a large issue, children are allowed to hang around various public caucus sites, such as the Iowa City Public Library, or South East Junior High; and the Warren campaign even provided free childcare on caucus night this year. 

The caucuses are controversial. For a primarily white state that nobody cares about to get national attention every four years is odd, to say the least. But the caucuses are important. They may be inefficient, but they can be improved. There’s now satellite caucusing, even in Paris. There are drawbacks, but they’re worth it for the necessary discussion and conversations they spark amongst neighbors.