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Voices / Letters from readers

In Iowa, people with varying viewpoints worked together for the greater good

I watched the Iowa caucuses — and the resulting mayhem — with a mixture of curiosity, astonishment, and hope.

Despite the sometimes haphazard madness of it all, I found myself buoyed by so many of the participants declaring that, if their candidate did not make the cut, they would absolutely be prepared to vote for whoever did get the candidacy.

I was also struck by the camaraderie between so many of those caucusing, from old friends to couples to people who’d only just met, despite their different choices.

Their determination and understanding of the ultimate job at hand — to defeat a force that is trying to destroy everything good about our nation through sheer criminality and by dividing those opposed to them — gave me hope that this year will not be a repeat of 2016’s bickering, bitter battle of the self-righteous.

The spectacle of the caucuses was messy. It was bizarre. The frustration upon learning that, instead of, say, just putting the numbers into a spreadsheet, Iowa’s Democratic Committee had instead decided to test an app to tally everything is infuriating.

But there was something appealing about the sharing of public space, conversations, and viewpoints immediately before deciding as a body for a candidate, as opposed to the solitary ritual of the voting booth.

I’m not saying caucuses are the way forward. I know, also, that the privacy of the voting booth is absolutely vital to preserving free and fair elections.

But Iowa’s caucus experience can help us see that people with varying viewpoints working together for the greater good, rather than single-minded, stubborn emphasis on the ultimately surmountable differences between our candidates, can lead us to the formation of the truly united front we need for the upcoming elections.

Patricia Sheehan

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Originally published in The Commons issue #548 (Wednesday, February 12, 2020). This story appeared on page C3.

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