REPRISE: Adventures of a Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses, Part 1

Editor’s Note: Eight years, at the beginning of the 2016 year of Brexit and Trump Hell, Kevin Lang, now our Group Leader on the City of Edinburgh Council, found himself in Iowa during the caucuses. Across three articles, he gives us a great insight of what happened at the Democrat caucus. 

Much of what he says about the Hillary campaign is worth our own opposition politicians thinking about as we approach our own election later this year. I thought you might like to re-read Kevin’s posts. 

Of course this year it’s the Republicans going mad in Iowa with the front runner, Donald Trump, not bothering himself to take part in the debates.

I always find the Pod Save America podcast, presented by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor a great source of information on US politics. Vietor has returned to Iowa to see what’s happening on the ground there with two special episodes of the On the Ground in Iowa podcast. Have a listen here

Over to Kevin:

As if Scottish and UK politics aren’t enough, I’ve long had a curiosity, a voyeuristic fascination with politics and elections in America.

It’s not just that elections there really matter and have an impact well beyond the US domestic border. It’s also the energy and enthusiasm (no matter how superficial or manufactured) that I’ve found infectious. It’s why I, along with my best mate (and 2016 Holyrood candidate) Alex Cole-Hamilton, went to help Obama’s first campaign in 2008. We did our little bit to help the Democrats win Virginia for the first time in a presidential election since 1964.

I also learned a lot about campaigning, especially the impact of reaching out and meeting voters face to face along with the importance of continually making your volunteers feel valued and appreciated. That said, as a Liberal Democrat, it was somewhat unnerving to campaign in a place where door to door leaflet delivery was against the law and subject to pretty stiff fines.

And so, when I realised I would be in the USA for work during the first week of February, I couldn’t resist the chance to head out a few days early and visit Iowa, the state which takes such pride in being the first to begin the process of electing a new president.

The caucuses take place in two days and the state Democrat Party has been incredibly kind in allowing me to be an international observer.

So I’m starting my unavoidably convoluted travels from Edinburgh to Iowa. It’s a place that’s smaller in size and population than my native Scotland and, let’s be honest, it has a somewhat iffy record on predicting presidential nominees. Yet it is a place that will sit firmly in the gaze of the world’s media over these next few days. I’m not going to lie. I’m almost giddy with excitement…

* Kevin Lang is a Councillor for the Almond ward which George Grubb represented from 1999-2012.

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