Living in Society

Primary Election Day 2018


Today marks what I like best about politics — a brief pause followed by regrouping before the general election.

Primary election day has been cathartic and today will be no different. Where Democrats have failed is in mending fences after the primary to unite around our slate. There is never enough buy-in to what “our” means. A lot of us will do our best to support the party even if our candidates don’t win tonight.

For a moment there is brief caesura and a glimmer of hope the party can come together.

Democrats have been jockeying for position for over a year, seeking elected office for themselves and their preferred candidates from governor to county supervisor. Shortly after the polls close we’ll know most, if not all of our slate for November. There is suspense in waiting to see who will win the horse race, and half a dozen election returns watch parties have been organized by campaigns. I’d rather the county party held one watch party calling for unity but the bonds people make during a primary campaign are tough to break and manifest hegemony in the social arena. The county seat is a long distance from home in the dark of night.

If no gubernatorial candidate wins 35 percent of votes cast, we’ll decide our nominee at the state convention June 16. I’ll be there. Based on social media it appears John Norris is gaining momentum in the governor’s race. However, he has a steep hill to climb to secure the ~ 52,000 votes needed to get 35 percent, let alone win. If voter turnout is more like 2014 than 2006, Norris doesn’t need as many votes but that’s a problem of another sort. Iowa Democrats attempt to use common sense when picking a candidate. Many of my friends and neighbors will settle on Fred Hubbell because there is a perception he alone has sufficient financial resources and can win the general election. Truth matters less than our commitment to hard work done as we close in on the final votes.

The following idea has been on my mind since Boulton dropped his gubernatorial campaign. Art Cullen of the Storm Lake Times put it into words last week: “Democrats should not be fooled into voting for what is predetermined.”

There is a lot of voting before Democrats settle on who we are. At 5 a.m. on election day I’m seeing a lot of Hubbell green. A record number of county voters cast early ballots this cycle: 54 percent more than in 2014, the last midterm election. The meaning of this statistic may come later.

Our family waited until election day to cast our vote. When I hit publish on this article I’m picking kale to leave for library workers when we go to town. Politics may be endless cycles of campaigns but the efficacy of fresh kale in binding us together is under appreciated. When we’re talking kale, we’re not talking politics… and that’s okay.