Bruning: Taking action at the Republican caucus


Photo: Nicole Wiegand/Iowa State Daily

Voters gathered at Ames Middle School for the Ward 3, Precinct 5 caucus to listen to a supporters speak on behalf of various candidates on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Although each candidate was alloted two minutes for those in attendance to speak in their support, Newt Gingrich and John Huntsman were not represented.

Jessica Bruning

I’m discouraged. I’m upset by the lack of decency and compassion that is demonstrated by our presidential candidates. I’m saddened by the attacks on gay people and poor people and people who are just people. I’m troubled that a candidate would tell me my vote doesn’t matter as much because all that I do, as an Iowan, is pick corn. I’m distressed at the lack of concrete plans and the emphasis on social issues.

But, this is not a column on candidates or issues. This is a column on action.

On Tuesday, I, like many other Iowans, participated in the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses. I didn’t even decide I was going until 5 p.m. that day, and I hadn’t decided who I would vote for until about 7:30 that night when it was time to vote at my precinct. To be blunt, none of the candidates are very appealing to me. I used to like Gary Johnson, until he dropped out of the Republican nomination race and entered the Libertarian one. I began to take Jon Huntsman into consideration, but lets face it, his campaign was nonexistent in Iowa, and he didn’t stand a chance.

After that it became a race to see which candidate was the least sexist, racist, pompous, arrogant or just plain stupid. It was a tough choice. Throughout this cycle we’ve been bombarded with advertisements putting down every group of people whom God supposedly doesn’t love.

So after I got over my decision of whether or not to participate in the caucus, I had to decide which candidate to go for. Huntsman was my first choice (despite his poorly generalized view of Iowans). Without going into detail, simply put, there are things I like and things I don’t like. He just has more things I like than any other candidate does. Of course, the problem with Huntsman was the fact that he didn’t stand a chance in Iowa. Would it be a waste of a vote to vote for him? Is it possible to waste a vote? Would I be happy with myself if I compromised on a candidate I liked even less but with a better chance of winning?

I had to think on this last question as I went back and forth on Huntsman or my second choice, Ron Paul. I shiver while slightly admitting to the fact that I considered him. For as much as he preaches constitutionality, I was pretty unimpressed with him when some classmates and I attempted a short discussion with him when he came to Iowa State last year. Again, things I like and things I don’t like. That is the situation in which we are placed.

So there were my choices. As the caucus began, we started moving down the list of candidates, in alphabetical order, asking people to speak in support of the candidate. I laughed to myself when Bachmann received no vocal support, the same with Gingrich. Then it came to Huntsman: No one spoke up. It was time for me to choose. In a split second, I put my hand up. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to say, but I felt that he, at least, deserved some sort of recognition.

My impromptu message certainly wasn’t my best speech ever. I found myself praying that some statistic or bit of research would come to my flustered mind, but I was unable to grasp anything. Instead, I explained how I felt Gov. Huntsman’s executive experience was very applicable to the most pressing problems facing our nation, the budget and spending, and that he wasn’t side tracked by social issues like other Republican candidates. It was short, probably not so sweet, but it was something. It was an action done in the moment, without plans or a script. While my action proves that maybe acting in the moment isn’t always perfect, I think we need to remember that one action provides a foundation for future actions.

When I got home after the caucus, I turned on the TV to watch as the results started coming in and began discussing the night’s events with friends.

When I told my fellow caucus-goers that I had given an impromptu speech in support of Huntsman, I was surprised to be met with replies of, “I wish that I had done that.”

Looking back at my action, there were many things I would have changed. When I sat down, I immediately thought of things I should have said. However, I know the one thing that I don’t have to change is raising my hand, walking up to the stage and telling 150 people why they should vote for the man they’ve never heard of.

I’ll never know if any of the eight votes Gov. Huntsman received from my precinct were due to my speech, and most likely they weren’t.┬áBut I do know I don’t have to say, “I wish that I had done that.”