Guys. A long, long time ago, in high school Civics class we learned about voting. Mr. Marozzi could not have been more clear that it was important as an 18 year old to go to the polls and cast your vote. It was effectively step number one to becoming an adult and claiming my place in the world. It was with passion that I happily declared my chosen candidate to anyone with ears. That first year, I went to my polling location not knowing much beyond what my parents had told me and proudly made it official.
I’m not sure I’ve voted since then. Somehow, for me, politics became something I didn’t want to shout about from the rooftops. Over the years, it had morphed into something that I identified with being a free American to something that I should keep secret and be ashamed about. People – strangers even – are apt to point fingers that if you voted for so-and-so you’re part of the country’s problem. No choice ever seemed good enough when the truth of the matter is, aren’t we all just choosing the best that we can?
Things began to change this year for me when I *finally* took the last step toward Iowa residency by actually getting an Iowa driver’s license (I held onto that Ohio license as long as I possibly could – as a sort of bastion of my former Ohio-ness preferring to live in that fluid visitor status. I took pride pointing out my dates of birth every time I was carded because the cashier didn’t know how to read my pretty pink foreign license, and I relished in the “Oh, you’re from Ohio?” question. Now I’m just another Iowan. Blending in.) When I was filling out my licensing paperwork, I was asked if I wanted to be registered to vote. Despite the drawback of jury duty, it was something I realized I wanted to do. It is more than simply my civic duty, casting my vote in this election is something I want to be part of.
Before moving to Iowa, I don’t really know if I knew what the caucus was. Dave told me I would see what it was all about in 2016 – how media from all over the United States converge on our tiny little city in our flyover state. And now here we are, in 2016, and I am EMBRACING this caucus business. He wasn’t kidding. The Today show was broadcasting live from West End Salvage this morning; Tom Brokaw was at Scenic Route this week (the very location I’m blogging from today); there are candidates and staffers all over this city; there are motorcades and blocked off roads and people outside hotels holding up signs for their candidate. This is nothing short of inspiring. All these young people with hope for change in our country, paying attention to our tax dollars and healthcare and government spending and military budgets and treatment for Vets. It’s suddenly become the thing to do – to vote. And here in Des Moines, in the lovely state of Iowa, it’s all around me.
The decision of who to caucus for feels overwhelming. Like it’s the most important decision I have made in a while. It’s not even a real vote yet, Ryan. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman, or I’m a tax-payer, or an American citizen but I’m taking this quite seriously. I implore you, dear reader, to go and cast your vote when it’s time. It’s one of the most important things we can do. Yes, the outcome isn’t always what we imagined it to be but it’s worth it to go declare your name and declare your decision on who will effectively have the most influence over our lives for the next four years (if not more).