Friday, December 16, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

As a Midwesterner and a graduate of an Iowa College, I think about Iowa more than the average Texas resident. Some of my favorite facts about Iowa:
  • It is the home of Marion Morrison (later known as John Wayne)
  • Iowa is the origin of the Red Delicious apple (you can read more about this factoid in Michael Pollan’s book Botany of Desire)
  • The Des Moines Register sponsors an annual bike ride across the state (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa a.k.a. RAGBRAI)
  • It is hilly and beautiful (not technically a fact)
  • Iowa is also important (to me alone) because it is the first state in which I cast my vote for President of the United States of America.
This last fact, which continues to bring me a warm fuzzy feeling, is also relevant because we are now a mere 18 days from an important event. The Iowa Caucus, partly because it is the first presidential caucus of the year, has taken on a huge amount of significance over the years. Stephen Bloom recently wrote an article for The Atlantic in which he claims, “whoever wins the Iowa Caucuses in January will very likely have a 50 percent chance of being elected president 11 months later.” Probably explains why the GOP candidates came out with their figurative guns blazing during last night’s debate in Sioux City.

Maybe, like many of us, you’re confused about why and how Iowa has become so important in elections. Guess what! Your local library can help you out. In addition to providing access to many newspapers in print and through our databases, we also have quite a few books on this topic precisely!

A few suggestions:
Primary politics : how presidential candidates have shaped the modern nominating system
by Kamarck, Elaine Ciulla.

Grassroots rules : how the Iowa Caucus helps elect American presidents
by Hull, Christopher C.

We will be heard : women's struggles for political power in the United States
by Freeman, Jo

Postville : a clash of cultures in heartland America
by Bloom, Stephen G. (Also the author of the Atlantic article reference above)

An Electronic Resource:
Iowa precinct caucuses [electronic resource] : the making of a media event 2nd ed.
by Winebrenner, Hugh, 1937-

1 comment:

Talking With said...

Here’s our show about Bloom’s article:

“Yale talks with four native Iowans about the depiction of them and the state they call home in Stephen Bloom’s scathing and controversial article in The Atlantic Monthly, his motives for publishing it, the response its generated across the state, and its national implications with regards to Iowa’s first in the nation voting status.”