Iowa by Taxi: Undemocratic Caucuses, Out-of-State Groupies

010308 taxi web Iowa by Taxi: Undemocratic Caucuses, Out of State GroupiesOn my way to the Barack Obama event last night, my cab driver, Roger Ward, spoke to an issue addressed in yesterday’s New York Times: There is something undemocratic in depriving people of their caucus vote because they have to work.

Ward said it was unfair, but nevertheless said he’d be out there. "I’ve got to take an hour off work," said Ward, 51. "You think, ‘what’s one guy?’ But they say Kennedy won by a one percent margin per precinct. Adlai Stevenson could have won. So you never know."

My cab back from the event was shared with two self-described political junkies.

Linda had come from Queens to see all the candidates, and checked the Des Moines Register every morning for a schedule of events that she could go to, even though she can’t caucus.

Paul Jones, from Kingsport, Tennessee, received the caucus-week vacation to Iowa as Christmas gift from his brother.

After Linda got dropped off, he and the driver Scott Karnowski, 38, from Des Moines, talked about the caucus.

"I’ve been wanting to do this since 1980," said Jones, who had seen Obama, John Edwards and Ron Paul ("Frank talk on the war but he is way right on domestic stuff"). Jones had seen Hillary and Bill Clinton coming out of a hotel.

"I saw Fred Thompson on an episode of Law & Order," said Karnowski.

"He boarded a plane out of Chatanooga with me once," said Jones.

Karnowski said he planned to caucus for the first time and was leaning towards Edwards.

"My daughter gets extra credit if she observes a caucus," he said. "I’ve never done it myself. Last time with those Dean people it was party, party, party, which he proved was the wrong way to go about it."

Karnowski said he liked Hillary more than Bill, but did not want her in the White House.

"One member of a family being president is enough," he said.