The rap on the Iowa caucuses is that Iowa is not your typical state, that too few voters have too much influence on the presidential races. Well, the critics are right.
Iowa is unique, but that's the sad part, because Iowa has managed to do what too many places have not. It has managed to keep people -- people -- involved in the political process.
In too many places, most places, we have managed to take politics out of the community and transfer it to the TV screen. People have become the missing ingredient.
Well, out here in Iowa, on Monday night, people will gather at school gyms, in their neighbors' homes, back rooms of public buildings, and they will compare the candidates many of them have seen on the stump. They take it seriously out here, and so do the candidates. Here's where they hone their message, where they find out what clicks with voters and what doesn't, and they find out from direct contact with the people, not from some consultant's survey. And it's the first place we get to see how they react to each other, under fire. That's a good thing to know about would-be presidents.
So the critics are right. Iowa is not typical. But if I had my way, it would be. If I had my way, we would have something like the caucuses in every state. I guess I'm old- fashioned, but I like politics when the people have a part. In Iowa, they still do.
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.