Thursday, January 3, 2008

Iowa caucuses -- random notes; and a postscript on the Montana caucuses

First, congratulations to Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. It isn't any accident that Huckabee and Obama share a number of characteristics. Each is the youngest candidate in his party, each has waged an explicitly positive campaign -- even in the face of nasty attack machines, and each has explicitly talked about a desire to transcend current political labels and divisions. And each is easily the best communicator in his party when it comes to connecting with voters on the stump.

Winners of Iowa caucuses have a way of not becoming the nominees of their parties -- in fact, more often than not, the winner of the Iowa caucus in open election years ends up losing the nomination. So for those who don't like Mike or who fear the thought of a President Obama -- don't go throwing fits. History is on your side.

Second, it is truly gratifying to see Barack Obama winning Iowa -- a state where blacks make up 2% of the population. America has changed, and it is a good thing. There are those who still love to score points by labeling this person or that a racist or a bigot. And there are still those who inexplicably love to hate, and those who love to hurt others by falsely calling someone else a hater.

But as anyone who has kids knows, the future belongs neither to bigots nor to baiters -- not because the younger generation is determined to be tolerant, but because the alternative simply doesn't seem to cross their minds.

Third, the excitement that has surrounded these highly competitive caucuses is sure to draw attention to the concept of caucuses and the excitement that can surround this kind of party-oriented, grassroots process.

This is good for Montana Republicans, since we are about to make our first foray into the caucus system of awarding Presidential delegates. While this first caucus in Montana will have a small group of party activists eligible to vote, one would expect that as the Republican Party in Montana learns how to "do caucusing," our system will expand to be more like Iowa's.

We still need to solve the problem of Montana not having voter registration by party -- something that complicates the process of expanding the number of voters participating in Montana's Republican caucuses. But we will have 4 years to apply ourselves to that challenge.

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