Tuesday, January 20, 2004


I love Iowa. I spent two of the coldest winters of my life there attending school. While I was not fond of heavy snow and cold temps, I loved the kindness of the folks I met there, the earnestness and respect for education that I had never sensed much in my corner of Central Texas. I loved the fat rolling hills of eastern Iowa, the beauty of large corn fields lorded over by large wooden farmhouses sited among oases of windbreak trees. I loved the pure clear voices, absent of dialect, the epitome of General American Speech.

And it looks to me like the caucuses did what they needed to do, bring together folk to consider the state of their democracy and what they can do to change it.

They confounded the pundits (Mickey Kaus of Slate's Kausfiles had long ago trashed Senator Kerry's chances. He still does). I am not very excited about a Kerry campaign, but I like to think that voters ought to make that decision.

Being active in a democracy forces allows one to pursue dreams and hopes, but it also forces folk to consider realities. I think humans hate dealing with realities. It is so much easier to know what you don't want than to define what you do want. Or to make the definition of who you could support so out-of-reach, so lofty that the very act of support becomes meaningless. And that's ok, if that's your point.

But I wish that a few thousand people who voted for Nader in Florida in 2000 would have thought about the consequences of their vote. A child could have told them that the 2000 election was not a tweedledum-tweedledee choice. But after 8 years of moderation and a hybrid of progressive conservatism, they demanded more. St. Ralph was their more. Karl Rove was the result.

Thanks to population shifts in the census, the electoral votes in 2004 will be much more weighted in GWB's favor. It will be a tough year for any Democrat. That the voters of Iowa thought about the ability to elect one of the candidates in such a formidable year speaks well of them.

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