As a state, Iowans are known to be respectful, thoughtful, and rational. I like to think that’s why the nation entrusts us with the responsibility of helping set the landscape for its general elections by being the nation’s first caucus. Unfortunately, by splitting us into differently colored rooms we’re robbed of our greatest strength: community.
Fortunately, as a startup, we’re uniquely positioned to poke things.
So today, along with the reddit Internet Bus Tour 2012, The Des Moines Register, and community leaders across the state, we’re challenging the political conversation in Iowa (and the nation) to participate in an entirely community-sourced caucus, called the Iowa Internet Uncaucus. Why? Quite frankly, the Internet allows us to do so.
What is an Uncaucus?
On Saturday, October 6th, we’re using old-fashioned grassroot campaigns, and that new-fangled Internet everyone keeps talking about, to flip the party caucuses on their head. Instead of filling gyms and town halls with democrats or republicans, we’re going to cram thousands of Iowans and Internet Citizens onto the Locust Street Bridge in downtown Des Moines from 6pm-9m. With interactive tools, livestreams, and real-time conversations, we want to reimagine the political discourse as Iowans (and Americans). And because we’re focused on creating a light-hearted and bipartisan atmosphere, it won’t matter if you entered from the left or right side of the river, just that you’re willing to meet in the middle and build a better Iowa.
We’re looking for 15 respectful, thoughtful, and rational Iowans to share their stories, concerns, or ideas with the public. Have questions or concerns over financial aid? Tell us. Want to re-address ethanol subsidies? Tell us. We’ll work with you to provide the best conversation your idea deserves. Ten of these speakers will be pre-selected by organizers and community leaders, with five slots waiting to be filled on the bridge.
After these 5-minute overviews, participants will have the opportunity to engage the speakers, ultimately refining and advancing the conversations that matter most to them. Better yet, this will all take place in an environment that is free from the kind of discourse that characterizes today’s politics.
What’s better is that we’re relying on the community to step up (and they have) to help pull this off. To do that, we’ve designed this to be entirely open. Email me, I’ll invite you to the dropbox and google docs we’re using to organize this thing. Grab the logo, make a poster, print out a flyer, draft an op-ed, throw’em in the folder for the rest of us to enjoy, just go go go.
What will be at the Uncaucus?
- Livestream provided by The Des Moines Register at IowaInternetUncaucus.org
- Real-time voting and interaction with Catchwind
- Professional production by Bow and Arrow
- Coverage by Catchfire
- Internet provided by Internet Solver
- Awesome shirt designs by 87 Central
- Photography by Joe Crimmings
- Interactive online chat rooms with Google Hangouts to engage Iowans all over the state
- Open and honest discourse about issues that matter
- While enthusiastically invited to observe, political candidates and surrogates are not allowed to speak or canvas the event.
- Upon entrance you agree to make a conscientious attempt to disregard all political leanings in the name of open, fair, and impartial discourse.
- Be prepared to be hugged should you violate rules 1 and/or 2 (we’ll explain at the event).
We’ll be compiling all of the texts, conversations, audio, visual, etc., into a report that will be disseminated to every government email we can get our hands on. In doing so, we hope to:
- Set a new expectation for civil discourse
- Key-in our representatives to the issues that matter most to Iowans
- Create a replicable event and format to hand off to other states that want to try this out as well
It’s audacious, impromptu, and different, but Iowans are used to coming together and beating the odds.
We hope you’ll join us in using our greatest strengths to create a new kind of national conversation.