Guest Columnist

Chelsea Chaney

‘Tis the season to be political. It’s the 25 days of caucus, the Iowa Caucus that is. The countdown begins, and it is beginning to look like a neck-and-neck race with the results of the current polls. If you have not had the opportunity to experience campaigning firsthand in a setting like Iowa, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you what you are missing.

I am taking Bob Beatty’s Contemporary American Politics class, and, to be honest, I would not have taken the four-hour drive to Iowa if it wasn’t for the simple fact that my grade depended on it. However, what I found in Iowa and the experience I witnessed was priceless.

My group was assigned John Edwards, but we also followed Barack Obama to several of his events. There is no doubt that Obama targets the younger generation, but as educated Americans it is important not to be blind-sided by the bells and whistles of a campaign. Don’t get me wrong, for college students, free T-shirts and live music is always a draw, but are these politicians using popular culture to buy votes? What really matters when electing the next president of the United States? Is it a catchy slogan, the funniest commercials on YouTube or perhaps it’s the number of Facebook friends that strike a chord with your voter appeal.

As a young adult, I know from experience that I want to see an American in power who I feel I can relate to, trust and who will protect our country. If you were hiring the next president of the United States what would you look for on a resume? What would your job requirements be? As a young American, I don’t know which candidate is going to be the best individual for the job, but I do know that it is never too early to start researching and supporting the candidate that you can most relate to.

When I attended the Harkins Steak Fry and the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, I couldn’t help relating both events to high school cheerleading camp. I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this, but hear me out. The point of camp was to become better at what you do, and everyone is there for that same purpose, much like the Democratic Party. However, you yell, scream, cheer and basically do everything in your power to make sure your team or candidate becomes “camp champs” or in this case, the nomination. At the Harkins Steak Fry and the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, the campaigns take their spirit-spreading seriously. They do everything in their power to impress the voter by having the biggest entourage, the most elaborate signs and more fun than any other campaign. Campaigns are definitely something people get caught up in and in some cases, loose their identity to.

Regardless if you are a campaign junkie or just the typical voter, every American should experience the caucus once in their lives. Republican, Democrat or political explorer, all of the candidates pay Iowa a visit delivering their stump speech attempting to touch hearts and minds. Following the campaign trail was a spectacular opportunity that helped me to realize how crucial Iowa is to the future of our country and the make-or-break point of a presidential candidate. It is amazing to think the next president of the United States spent weeks in Iowa along to trail talking with Americans about why they are the right individual for the job. From Huckabee to Edwards or Romney to Obama, any of these candidates could claim their future residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On Jan. 3 the campaign signs were hung by the interstate with care in hopes that a landslide win in Iowa would soon be there.

Chelsea ChaneyWashburn student