February 2, 2016


If Only Russia Could Have Iowa's Democracy (Leonid Bershidsky, 2/02/16, Bloomberg View)

Among these first-timers were Kris and Jenny Kunz, who had their two young kids in tow, and were looking for a candidate with strong Christian values and a firm stand on abortions. Trump didn't fit the bill.

Trump supporters weren't very visible in the audience. They had thronged his rallies across the state, decked out in campaign hats, T-shirts and other merchandise, but in the high school auditorium, they blended in with the crowd, and the pro-Trump speech didn't generate much enthusiasm. The audience laughed and clapped, however, when a backer of Senator Marco Rubio who had served in the military in Germany derided Trump's plan for a wall along the Mexican border. "You can't build one as good as they had in East Berlin," he said.

Rubio carried Polk County and came in a close third to Trump statewide. Although Ted Cruz emerged as the overall winner thanks to his relentless campaigning and hyperactive canvassing, Rubio, the strongest performer in the last Republican debate, showed that he would be the one to beat as the campaign rolled on. Mainstream Republicans will have to pin their hopes on him.

As for Trump, he got his first hint that good poll results might not translate to votes. People like the show, but they don't necessarily want it to go on for the next four years. He won in Muscatine County, where I saw him fire up an angry crowd, but that wasn't enough to carry the state. Not playing by the accepted rules is bold and flashy, but the rules weren't made by losers, either.

Like many at Stilwell Junior High on Monday night, I was a first-time caucus-goer. I saw a genuine democratic process. People cared, argued, despaired and laughed. I found myself hoping that my country, Russia, could elect its leaders this way, rather than accept dictates from above.

Posted by at February 2, 2016 3:14 PM


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