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Last night, I showed up at East High School in Sioux City, Iowa for the Republican caucuses with Milton Friedman's book "Free to Choose" under my arm. I was excited to be attending my second caucus.
We filed into the gymnasium with our blue paper ballots and heard a few words from representatives of the candidates. They were supposed to speak for two minutes, but each went on for at least four. The impatient Iowans we are, we began to applaud in the middle of their speech- "playing them off," so-to-speak- like winners at the Oscars who ramble too long.
We then moved to different parts of the school, separated by precinct. There were about fifty people in my precinct. There was no precinct captain, so I volunteered. In the end, my precinct elected Huckabee by two votes over Romney.
After I counted the votes twice, we elected three people to join a County-wide group to help make phone calls and distribute signs when the national election rolls around. Being the good citizen that I am, I threw my hat into the ring.
The four candidates for the three seats made little speeches about why they'd be good for these positions, then asked the precinct if they had questions.
True to the evangelical nature of the midwest, they berated me with social issues. I tried talking about the free market and limited government, but they would have none of it. Needless to say, I lost. A few people stuck around and tried to argue with me, insisting the government should regulate heavily. I wonder why they didn't attend the Democratic caucus!
The cap to my night was standing up to my knees in dirty snow, helping push an elderly woman out of a snow drift she had unwittingly driven into while trying to park.
I arrived home cold and wet, but satisfied. The Iowa caucuses may seem meaningless or over-hyped, but they're the grassroots democracy that keeps the nation chugging.
To be sure, it was an interesting night, since Huck won the state. Let's hope- for freedom's sake- he doesn't win in New Hampshire.