1. An extended family
Wherever I go, I have political family. Everyone who is anyone in politics cuts their teeth in Iowa. We see each other at our best and worst. We have yelled at one another, divulged our deepest secrets, and formed a mafia-like bond.
2. Political boot camp
Want to be a big deal in politics? You have to come to Iowa. Our activists and staff are a tough crowd. We don’t care where you come from. You are expected to work 85+ hours a week and like it. This work is not glamorous: making phone calls, knocking on doors, ensuring event signs are placed properly and never fall down, signing up event attendees before you let them out the door, running to get food for national staff, etc.
3. Meeting presidents (and candidates) before they are a big deal
If you live in Iowa and have not shaken a president’s hand, it really is your own fault. Candidates visit multiple times in a variety of venues. Insider trick: Go see them before they officially throw a hat into the ring. It’s much easier to get a handshake and photo without a gaggle of press closing in.
4. A nobody can succeed
I volunteered on my first campaign while at Simpson College. While my family is informed and votes, no one else has volunteered on a campaign or tried to make a living in the political world. In Iowa, you are given a fair shake as a kid who has no idea what she is getting herself into. Work hard, be loyal, and use your head. That’s what it takes in Iowa.
5. Everyone is a TV star
With national and international media everywhere, if you participate in this process, you are likely to get in a camera shot at one time or another.
6. People care about your opinions
Reporters are dying to know what we are thinking. Friends from across the country reach out seemingly out of the blue.
7. A full mailbox
Ever get disappointed when you check your mailbox, and nothing is there? Never an issue during caucus season in Iowa! As a political nerd, I even keep a few of my favorites as souvenirs. (Photo above courtesy of Marlys Popma.)
8. TV ads
While we all get tired of these ads, they are a sneak peek into the oppo research underway for the general election. Once again, this might be a good thing for us political nerds only.
9. Crossing things off of your bucket list
Being on the Today Show (simply in the crowd outside) has been on my bucket list since grade school. Did I mention I am a nerd? 😉 Tomorrow I will likely cross this off my list if everything goes as planned.
10. People (kids too!) are inspired
With all of the above going on, those Iowans who have never participated in the process often think twice about it every four years. Just this year, I have several friends who are likely to caucus for the very first time. I also get to involve friends and family in many of the cool things listed above. We in Iowa have a voice before the field is narrowed. How cool is that?!