Patsy Pridgen

Patsy Pridgen

Our state deserves earliest caucus date

By Patsy Pridgen
Life Columnist

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Here’s what I want to know: Who decided that Iowa always gets to go first? What ruler of the presidential primaries decreed that this state, known for its “rolling plains and cornfields” – I’m quoting Wikipedia here – deserves all the early-voter attention?

I mean why not us? If there is to be a first caucus to gauge the support for presidential candidates, we here in North Carolina deserve the honor, especially if you compare us to Iowa. Let me present my case.

We have people. North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the nation in terms of population. Iowa ranks 30th. With just more than 10 million residents, we are three times larger than the Hawkeye State. Why use a small sample when you can get a big one?

Not only do we have more people, we have more types of people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa is 92 percent white, 3.45 percent black and 5.65 percent Latino/Hispanic. North Carolina is 71.5 percent white, 22.1 percent black, and 9 percent Latino/Hispanic. Guess which state looks more like the rest of America? (It’s us.) Wouldn’t it be a better idea to have that state serve as a litmus test of which candidate might get elected by the entire population of the country?

OK, enough with the facts. There are other totally fun reasons why North Carolina should replace Iowa as the first state to hold a presidential caucus.

Our state is more interesting. With 24/7 news coverage, the commentators have to find human interest stories to keep us tuned in between interviews with the candidates. I saw one such item out of Iowa on the “Today” show. College football players had been recruited to demonstrate how to play corn hole. Yeah, that tailgate pastime that involves throwing bean bags through holes cut in a board. In another segment of the show, Al Roker interviewed a butter sculptor who showed off a cow she had made out of nearly 40 pounds of the stuff.

I just know we would have more to offer in terms of entertaining life-in-our-state stories. Gail King of CBS News could go to Charlotte and get Cam Newton to do the dab, always a crowd pleaser. Or the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer could participate in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That’s way better than a butter sculpture.

Iowa is supposed to be known for its pork tenderloin sandwich. Big whoopee. Our state is 10 times more interesting when it comes to pig dishes. The media could pick up on our barbecue wars, Eastern versus Piedmont. I, for one, would love to see The Donald chowing down at the buffet at Gardner’s Barbecue right here in Rocky Mount. Wouldn’t that be special?

So to wrap up my pitch here, North Carolina should hold the first caucus because we are a fairly large state with a diverse population, thus, being a better indication of how the rest of the country actually feels about the candidates.

Also, we’re all about fun and good food, which would provide a more entertaining viewing experience. Sounds good to me, but after Iowa it was on to New Hampshire, 94 percent white, followed by Nevada, 35th in population. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Patsy Pridgen is a retired community college English instructor. She can be reached at patsy.pridgen@gmail.com.

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