20+ Candidates: the blog begins

I’m not sure if starting a blog makes anything official, but I’m making it official: I am NOT going to be a candidate for President in 2020. However, I am pledging to try to see as many of the Presidential candidates as possible as they come through Iowa prior to the February 2020 Caucus.  If prognosticators are correct, this blog will live up to its title, “20+ Candidates.”

First, it’s important to know something about Iowa’s role with the first-in-the-nation caucus: it doesn’t really make sense. A recent Raygun t-shirt captures this dynamic with the slogan, “Iowa! For some reason, you have to come here to be President!” If one was creating an electoral process from scratch, this isn’t how you would do it. The whole thing always seems a little ramshackle and thrown together, like finding out last minute that you’ve agreed to host a party at your house.  “Oh, sh*t! Do we have enough clean plates? Is there any wine in the refrigerator?”

Of course, that’s also what makes it interesting. Every four years, in the state that I’ve called home for almost 20 years, I have to reorient my sense of what it means to be here. For example, I live in Cedar Falls, a small city/college town in the northeast part of the state. It’s a great place to live, and I can give you lots of reasons to come visit, but if you’re not from here, you’re likely to say something like “Is that the same things a Cedar Rapids?” Uh…no. But every four years, presidential candidates traverse the state, and any place with a sizable population and available space for rallies becomes an attraction.

Basically, I don’t expect anyone from outside Iowa to know where I live, but I’m also not surprised when a nationally-recognized politician gladhands it through the crowd at a bar within walking distance of my house.

In this blog I’m going to try to capture a couple of things. On the one hand, this whole process is weird, and it only gets weirder the closer you are to it. However, on the other hand, this election couldn’t be more serious. There’s a reason more than 20 candidates are expected to run. How could you be a politician with any experience and a national reputation and not consider running?  Haven’t you watched Donald Trump and thought “WTF? I could do better than that!”

I may approach political events a bit skeptically, looking for humor to alleviate the experience of standing in lines or being crowded into rooms not designed for the events they are hosting. But I’m not going to be snarky about candidates who are running. Sure, some I’m drawn to more than others, and I get that politicians can be driven by vanity and calculation, but I also know that one of these people is going to be what separates us from a second Donald Trump term. The stakes are high and the results are unpredictable. I’m trying not to prejudge.

So, bring it on. Big rallies, small house parties, candidate selfies and firm handshaking.  I’m in for it all.

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