Shaking hands is a gesture often used when greeting someone. It is a normal act that has been done hundreds of times, yet when I was able to shake the hands of presidential candidates, it seemed less normal. This year was my first caucus cycle as a Wisconsinite. Before the cycle, I had shaken a total of 0 hands that belonged to presidential candidates, much less spoken with them in person.
Coming into the caucuses, I understood that I would get to meet some of the highest-ranking politicians in the country, but meeting them is a different story. Throughout the cycle, I started to see the drawings of the Caucasus. It was often stated that Iowans are used to meeting the candidates for president, whether at the Iowa State Fair, a football game, or a bar. In the end, I saw six candidates in person and got to talk with 3 of them.
It was common for me to hear about at least four political events happening that week. One week, I went to 4 events for 3 of the candidates. This greatly differs from Wisconsin, where I heard about maybe one or two political events monthly. Different advertisements for the campaigns mostly bombarded me.
As I stated before, through the caucus season, I was able to meet many of the presidential candidates for the Republicans. There is a major difference between listening to the candidates on TV and hearing them live in person. The passion and determination you can listen to from each candidate are amplified when it is live. I don’t know why, but hearing them speak to a crowd in person is pretty different compared to through a screen. In addition, seeing the candidates in person allows you to see small interactions between them and their supporters. You can only see what the media can or wants to air, leaving out some of the funniest interactions. For example, when I went to Ottumwa to see Donald Trump, there was a part where he was given a picture of himself to sign and kiss it. While it was nothing life-changing, seeing that action was kind of funny. At the same place, there was a group of people who would dance along with the songs being played. It was very entertaining to watch.
Before the 2024 Caucuses, I was excited to caucus for the first time. I would have gone to the Republican ones because of a presidential preference vote. However, it would be the caucuses if something didn’t go wrong. I was supposed to fly into Des Moines after being in Europe the day of the caucuses at 4:30ish, but because of the cold snap in the US, my departure from Europe was delayed. In addition, some plane troubles were leading to a 4-hour delay. While my first caucus cycle ended with some disappointment, I wouldn’t have done anything different.