A key part to American politics is the idea that every citizen should have the ability to change our nation. Recently, residents of Urbandale had the opportunity to shape Iowa’s political future. On Monday, February 6, 2018, the Urbandale Caucuses were held for the Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian parties. Anne La Pietra, a government teacher at Urbandale High School, explained the purpose of the caucuses.
The caucuses aren’t always exactly the same, but they usually have similar end goals. “The caucuses are meetings to handle party business, typically focused candidate selection and party platforms,” says La Pietra, “caucuses in Iowa are held during midterm election year and presidential election years. Most attention, especially nationally, is paid to presidential caucuses as [it is] the first test for presidential candidates to see how voters will respond. The midterm caucuses are more low-key and may vary based on your precinct location. Ultimately, the caucuses are a way to start selecting delegates for state and national party conventions. In some situations, these delegates will be responsible for voting on their party’s official nominee for a major office.”
Midterm caucuses may not have the attention or allure of a presidential caucus, but they still have a vital purpose as the grassroots of basic political organization. “Midterm caucuses are more focused on party building,” states La Pietra, “th
ere is less glamor and excitement for midterms so this gives the party a chance to change its platform and ask suggestions for new planks(policies) to the platform. One student reported from his caucus on Monday night that one man was adamant about adding a Constitutional Amendment specifically about privacy since none of the current amendments specifically define or protect privacy.
Despite the importance of the midterm caucuses, it has a significantly lower attendance when compared to a presidential caucus. La Pietra gives her viewpoint on why this might be. “Turnout is usually pretty low because most people don’t want to give up one to four hours on a weeknight for the caucus process. Also, since the caucus doesn’t officially elect anybody to offices, most people don’t get excited about engaging in the caucus process.”
Despite this, the midterm caucuses remain as key as ever to Iowa’s political process. All the major political parties must go through this process to lay out their plans for the upcoming elections. The caucuses are just the beginning, however. These starting stages will combine with the upcoming county conventions and culminate on November 6, during the midterm elections. The lengthy process of organizing each party has to be started early, and that is exactly what the caucuses are here for.