My 2012 Iowa Caucus Experience — Part I

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I’m going to write about my January 3, 2012, caucus experience as if it were for my personal journal. (Almost. Not 100% candidly, but close.) I don’t journal often and later wish I had a record of those moments especially important to me. I’m too lazy to write a post here and a separate private journal entry so, here goes. Hopefully when 5-year-old grandson Jackson is 25, he’ll enjoy reading of my experience. Just as I enjoy reading my dad’s speech from when he campaigned in 1968 to be a delegate to the National Republican Convention.

The basic premise here is that I believed in something and felt that I shouldn’t sit back and let others do the work to promote what I believed in. And, that now, with the event in the past, I feel really good about it.

It has to do with promoting a conservative candidate. If you don’t want to read any more, just click out of this post. If you do want to read further, scroll down past the dotted/blank space (below) and read on. I realize that by posting this, I may alienate some readers. However, I hope that my posting at this point is ok with readers, since, now that the caucus is past, I’m not trying to persuade anyone to vote for “my” candidate. (I guess…unless you are from out of state and your caucus/primary hasn’t taken place yet.) I’m just really excited about my experience and want to record it. And share it with those who want to be shared with.

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In Tuesday night’s Iowa caucus, I spoke on behalf of, and voted for Newt Gingrich. Anything of a political nature is so unlike me. I’ve been on the core committee (co-chair in 1989 and chair in 1999) for two bond referendums for new school buildings in Perry. Other than that, I’ve pretty much been a political wallflower, too timid and too non-versed (I thought) to feel like I could develop an opinion 100% on my own.

The contrast is that in the last five years before the caucus, I’d been in the presence of Newt three times (now four) to listen to him speak regarding how history relates to our nation’s future. (Two of those times were book signings.) My gosh. Why couldn’t Newt Gingrich, instead of Marshall Farley, have been my high school history teacher? Newt makes history come alive for me. He made me feel like I was crossing the Delaware with Washington. He made me feel as if I was at Pearl Harbor in 1941. He made me feel as if I was present when the Constitution was developed and signed. And, for me he connected it all to our country’s future. For me his methodology makes everything such a compelling history lesson that Newt doesn’t need to turn on some fake, kiss-babies campaign smile.

Callista Gingrich, me (Louise), Bill (my husband), and Newt Gingrich at the Santa Maria winery in Carroll, Iowa. December 29, 2011. (Click on image to enlarge.)

I’m a conservative (not necessarily Republican) by nature. I have been for several years. The difference in recent years, due to Newt, is that I now have a fire lit under me.

So I started to pay more attention by watching, when possible, this fall’s debates. I saw more of the same from Newt during the debates. Then I saw all the attack ads targeted at Newt, while Newt was trying to wage a positive campaign. And I got disgusted.

On Thursday night before the caucus, Bill and I drove to Carroll to, once again, listen to/see Newt. Callista was with him. What a pleasant experience. (Callista kept saying she really liked my camera. I thought, “Oh sure, she probably doesn’t know anything about photography, and is just saying that. Little did I know that one of her loves is photography. She provided the photography for one of the books authored by Newt, Rediscovering God in America.)

On Facebook I had written about seeing and listening to Newt in Carroll, “We really enjoyed Newt. It’s the third time I’ve seen him over the past five years (second time for Bill). Each time he seems so much like a younger version of my educated/no-nonsense/strict-but-gentle dad who “didn’t know anything” until I “got it” as I got older. Bill is more versed in history, the Constitution and what’s going on today than I am. So, a lot (all?) of what Newt says reinforces what Bill already knows/believes. For me, listening to Newt is like getting a comprehensive (connecting history with the present and also connecting disciplines) education instead of a campaign speech. We like that. Even though he is very intellectual and has expertise, his answers/explanations meet with common sense and resonate with my value system. He’s pragmatic and his answers are no-nonsense, non-scripted. He seems so genuinely passionate about his concern for our future. And throughout his entire speech and Q and A, he did not say one negative thing about any other GOP candidate; he was 100% positive. All of that just makes us just really, really enjoy and trust the guy. On top of that, no plastic about him. (We also enjoyed Callista. I had assumed she would seem artificial. She seemed very warm and personable.)”

That night at Carroll, I signed the attendance sheet, including providing my address and phone number. When I provided the number, I knew I was setting myself up to get a call from the Newt campaign. (I’d not yet received one.)

The Friday before the caucus, I received that call, although when I answered the phone, I had no idea who the caller was, since I only could see that it came from a 515 area code number. I’m not sure why I stayed on the line, because for all the other calls (bazillions of them) I would hang up as soon as I realized it was a political call (even though many of them showed up on caller ID as a local-looking 515 phone number). For this one particular call, I stayed on the line. It was a recording saying that Newt was going to have a teleconference call and that I could dial in to participate. I could even ask questions.

Dial in I did. On Friday. Again on Saturday. And a third time on Monday. It was fascinating to listen to all the questions people asked each time, and to hear Newt’s sincere, personalized responses.

On Friday evening Bill and I had a voice message saying that I had volunteered to give a speech at the caucus on behalf of Newt. Typically I think that assumption would have prompted me to return the call and firmly let the caller know that I had NOT volunteered to do any such thing. I’d only provided my phone number.

However, I think I was kind of titillated by the idea of giving a speech in support of Newt. I was especially drawn in because I knew I believed in what Newt stands for and I didn’t think it was right to just sit back and rely on other people to use their energy to stick their necks out on a limb. So, I made the return call…saying that I’d be glad to provide a speech. I was told that I’d receive a letter that I could read at the caucus, or I could write my own speech.

(I’ll post Part II tomorrow, January 6th, or over the weekend.)

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When in Carroll, I recorded a little video of Newt’s speech. Unfortunately, I didn’t begin early enough to record the “history lesson” part. But, if you’d like to see the other (i.e., campaign) segments, if you’ll email me, I’ll send a link to that video. MGundersonArt@gmail.com

Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.

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7 Responses to “My 2012 Iowa Caucus Experience — Part I”

  1. Jeff Moore Says:

    Thanks! Fun to hear your experiences and feelings!

  2. Patti S[piker Collett Says:

    It sounds like you had a very enjoyable time. Like you, I like what Newt has to say. My only problem is with trusting him. Can you give me a personal reason as to why I should believe what he says? I have the same problem with many of the candidates. Both parties included. On a personal note, my husband & I went to Poky for supper with friends of ours, Pat & Harold, who live across the street from Jon and Bonnie. Does Jon have any brothers besides Lowell? My memory’s getting dim in my old age.

  3. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Jeff and Patti: Thank you for your comments.

    Boy, Patti, you’re gonna make me really exercise my brain! And that is good for me. I just got home from being gone all day, am pooped from staying up so late working on the blog post but want to get Part II posted tonight or tomorrow, and have a birthday celebration on both tomorrow and Sunday (including a trip to Rolfe).

    I will respond to your question by Monday. I don’t know if my response will say a lot more than my blog post did, but I ***want*** it to say more. So I’m going to mull it over and will get back to you. In the meantime, I might email you a question or two to ask for clarification of your question.

    If anyone wants me to email to you my response to Patti, send me a request via email and I’ll be happy to send it to you. MGundersonArt@gmail.com

    Also for anyone else, I challenge you to answer for yourself Patti’s question. I don’t mean I’m challenging you to post it here (although if you want to, that’s fine as long as you identify yourself with your first and last name).

    Patti, maybe you should have been a high school government teacher. The question you posed is excellent. I saw it on my phone when I was in DSM earlier today and thought of it much of the time while driving.

    Also Patti, John (Bill’s dad) had one brother…Frank. Frank has been deceased for quite some time. I believe Lowell is a cousin to John.

  4. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    In the comment above, I said that if anyone wanted to see the response I send to Patti, I would be glad to share it if a request was sent to me via email. However, I should have said I’d be glad to share all or ***most*** of my response to Patti. I might share more with Patti than I feel comfortable sharing with the world, which is why I might not share every single word of my response to Patti.

  5. Clara Hoover Says:

    In spite of all the robo calls, advertising and relentless babble by media pundits, I think it’s really neat that ordinary people in even the most rural areas have the opportunity to meet all the candidates in person and actually talk with them.

    And since I don’t live in Iowa, I enjoyed watching C-SPAN broadcast live from an Urbandale caucus and then provide live coverage from KCCI television. C-SPAN 2 broadcast live from a Treynor (southeast of Council Bluffs) caucus. And then later on my computer, the Des Moines register had live coverage from a DM television station.

    Patti, did you remember that Bonnie is a sister of Jackie Flaherty?

  6. Patti S[piker Collett Says:

    Clara, I did remember that. As I remember it, there were several girls in the family. I believe I always thought John & Lowell were brothers. I John also related to Raymond Shimon?

  7. Clara Hoover Says:

    Patti: When I don’t know the answers, I check the 1981 Pocahontas County History. And sometimes when I do know or think I know, I check anyway just to verify. I always discover something new and am fascinated by the stories I read.

    Frank Shimon Sr. and Catherine Victor Shimon came to Pocahontas County in 1886. They had six children. One son was Clement, married to Clara and the father of Raymond and Marilyn. They all lived on the east side of the highway about four miles south of Rolfe.

    Another of Frank Sr. and Catherine’s sons was Casper (Cap, C.J.), the father of Frank and John Shimon. John is married to Bonnie, and they have five sons, one of whom is Louise’s husband, Bill. So John’s father and Raymond’s father were brothers.

    When I was in high school John and Bonnie lived in a house across the highway from Clara, Raymond and Marilyn Shimon. I remember riding that school bus occasionally and picking up the little Shimon boys.

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