Last Saturday night my wife, father-in-law and I headed to our favorite theater in Des Moines, Fleur Cinema, to see the theatrical premiere of “Caucus” and listen to a Q&A with one of the filmmakers, AJ Schnack, and Des Moines Register political reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Kathie Obradovich.
What a treat. And I’m not talking about the giant homemade rice crispy treats Fleur sells. (Support independent cinema!)
The documentary covers the roller coaster ride of the 2012 Iowa caucuses on the Republican side. All major candidates were given screen time but the majority of the film is spent tracking the crash of the Bachmann campaign after the Ames Straw Poll and the slow boil rise of Rick Santorum to be the grassroots alternative to Mitt Romney.
Anyone contemplating running for President should see this film as a README.txt for how to make a serious play in Iowa.
- Do the work. Visit every county, organize and treat it like a marathon instead of a sprint.
- Be authentic. You’re not in the DC bubble anymore so stop trying to act like it. Yes, the national media may be following you, but your events should be run as if they weren’t.
- Show respect. Chances are, especially if you’re Congress, you’re used to being kissed up to and told how great you are. Leave the ego at home. Acting like a divo/diva or like you’re above the process doesn’t play well on either side.
My wife asked AJ Schnack after the film whether or not, after being front and center for the entire process (he started filming in April 2011), he feels Iowa should remain first in the nation. He agreed that we should. He saw first hand how seriously we take the process and how Iowa and New Hampshire’s roles aren’t necessarily to pick the winner but to train these candidates and weed out some of the weaker ones.
Is it a perfect process? Heavens, no. Are there eccentrics in our towns and cities who make for a good “silly Iowa rube” story by asking crazy questions or causing a scene? Yes. But find me a state that DOESN’T have them… I’m looking at you, Florida. Iowa is and should remain first because of the low bar of entry and high standards we hold for anyone wanting to seek the highest office in our nation.
Great film, great night. A must see for any political junkie. Pre-order your copy on caucusdocumentary.com.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.