Feiler Faster

A couple I’ve known for decades sent along this report from the Iowa Caucuses this week. I’ve substituted Jon for the man and Ellen for the woman — they are in their 60’s.

We attended the Caucuses this past Thursday. It was an amazing experience. In our Caucus Obama had about 240 supporters and Hillary was third with 144. We crammed into an elementary school because the turnout was twice (around 650) what it was four years ago so we mirrored the state pretty closely. Almost everyone was white, reasonably well to do and generally older. Jon supported Obama and their group was eventually sent to a double classroom where it was hard to count but the organizers had cleverly given everyone numbers as they entered the room. Ellen supported Hillary and was one of the volunteers assigned to greet people in the beginning and to what turned out to be the thankless task of trying to persuade those people in “non-viable” groups, i.e. Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich and Biden, to come to Hillary. Her group was sent to the media room, i.e. the library and had the unhappy experience of watching all but three persons from the “non-viables” walk thru their room on the way to Obama’s supporters’ room. Hillary had provided drinks and snacks which were shared with all including the other candidates’ supporters.
Jon’s thoughts: It was exhilerating to see the support for Obama and even better to hear his victory speech on TV. The next day, people here were comparing it to a MLK speech. Obama has a unique feel for the historical moment.
Ellen’s thoughts: The writing was on the wall as people entered the school and Obama and Hillary people, including me, invited them to put on stickers. The Obama greeters took up the front and were younger. We were older and most of those who put on our stickers were older too. This was consistent with the analysis for the state which found an inverse relationship between age and support for Obama. This troubled me as did the reactions of the supporters of “nonviable” candidates when I tried to persuade them to join Hillary’s group. I even knew a lot of them; yet they barely concealed their hostility. I thought Hillary’s speech was remarkably mature and gracious and was impressed by Obama. However, all that fervor is something I distrust at this point in my life. It actually reassures me that I saw Obama up close and personal a few months ago when he had the flu and read his speech. He wasn’t charismatic, but he was intelligent and persuasive.
All of us are so relieved that it is over, and we can answer our phone again. Love to all of you.

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