Iowa caucuses are democracy at grass roots

By Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

Des Moines, Iowa — John Dennis is a San Francisco guy who found himself standing in a Des Moines high school auditorium Tuesday in front of 225 Iowans and asking them to vote for Ron Paul.

“His campaign inspired me to run for office. I ran for Congress in my district in 2010,” Dennis said, then paused a beat. “Anybody know Nancy Pelosi?”

The room full of Republicans laughed. At a GOP caucus in Iowa, “Nancy Pelosi” is a punch line.

What happened over the next hour at Herbert Hoover High School, one of 1,774 caucuses across Iowa, would thrill any fan of the American democratic process and make others shake their heads at how Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status has assumed so much power in our political system.

If you weren’t a registered voter already on the rolls in Des Moines precincts 11 or 12, you could register as a Republican at the door, provided you showed a photo ID. If you were new in town, maybe a utility bill.

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