Iowa Protects the Franchise

The chase

The chase

As we’ve all noted, the Iowa Caucuses are really not important. It’s a tiny state with very few delegates, profoundly unrepresentative of the make-up of the country (read: blindingly white, deeply theocratic) and even from the perspective of momentum, Momentum, MOMENTUM! it doesn’t influence the next contest, New Hampshire. With great pride, New Hampshire ignores the hayseed Bible-thumpers.

I was listening to the radio in the car the other day, and the host was talking to some citizen of a small Iowa town, who said that she had not made up her mind because she had only met something like seven of the candidates in person. I understand that retail politics is charming and all that, but really?

In our modern era there always seems to be some sort of controversy in Iowa about divvying up the spoils the delegates. In the 2012 Goat Rodeo we found out some weeks later that Frothy Santorum had actually won, and not The Willard Mechanism.

This time around the controversy was on the Dims’ side, which resulted in coin flips to determine a winner (Clinton). The state Dim Party Chairwoman says no to an audit demanded by team Sanders. At best, it would result in one more delegate on the Sanders side of the ledger.

What has become clear is that the Iowa Caucuses are really a tourism grift for that first-in-the-nation state, and hence the Des Moines Register calling for a full audit to lessen the obvious showmanship of the entire deep-fried, county-fair laden stupidity of the entire thing (and they endorsed Clinton):

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

That’s a call to defend their cash cow; the small-town lady needs to meet all 17 candidates. The political parties (as I understand it) set the sequence of primaries. It’s time for Iowa to step down. It’s just stupid to continue with them as the first primary, especially if they cannot seem to accurately count the results and assign delegates. (Added dumbness: both parties have different mechanisms for doing this, so there is not even an apples-to-apples way to determine what the hell is going on. You have to trust the Parties.)

Growing up in California, which has 20%-plus of the entire US population, it always irked me that by the time the primary came to us, so many candidates had already dropped out of the race, and we never had a chance to support them. It still seems profoundly undemocratic though I now live elsewhere.

I’ve visited Iowa several times, it is a uniquely beautiful green place; the balloon races are truly dazzling, the colorful balloons floating across that endless blue sky. The people I’ve met have been uniformly pleasant (well, that’s a lie, but in general they’ve been pleasant until they find out you are from California, and then they tell you about how you are damned and so is the entire state), and did I mention how green everything is? The point is I don’t hate Iowa, I hate the caucuses. This is inexcusable nincompoopery, and it needs to stop. Now.

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10 Responses to Iowa Protects the Franchise

  1. grs says:

    Michigan and Florida tried to move their Democratic primaries in 2008 precisely because Iowa is bonkers. The DNC lost its mind over it and basically rendered those delegates useless. It made me sour on the DNC since their was essentially zero Democratic campaigning in Michigan that year. Republican ads up the ying yang during primary season with no Democratic push back.


  2. MDavis says:

    Iowa doesn’t have the first primary, New Hampshire does. Iowa has the first “event”, the caucuses. Apparently, being first in line is written into Iowa state law so trying to get them to go later will only work if the whole shebang is moved back – first Iowa, by at least 8 days (I looked it up), then New Hampshire and then … I don’t know if there are other order requirements but it seems like they could at least group them closer on the calendar even without trying the hopeless task of getting those two states to change their “me first!” laws.


    • tengrain says:

      Yeah, MDavis, I forgot about the law bit. I know that there is a difference between a primary and a caucus, I was trying to use one word to describe the end effect: assigning delegates.

      What happens if *every state* has a me-first law? Hmmm…




  3. RobGinChicago says:

    Where were these clowns at the Des Moines register in 2008 when the Iowa caucus was even more chaotic, disorganized, thuggish, and irregular? The caucus system is absurd everywhere it is used, and should give way to a conventional primary election.


  4. HenryWallace says:

    For god sake, please rotate this around!

    Last Friday I was 35ft away from Bill & Hillary at one of their events. Two and a half hours later (and 100 yards across the street) I got to talk to Cornel West and was within 20ft of Sanders………

    We are not this important!


  5. american exceptionalism at its best
    we couldnt count votes in 2000 – and we all know where that got us
    and we still cant count votes or cauci today

    must be all those mexicans with watermelon sized calves that the rapid nazi steve king talks about
    always screwing up something

    by going first, iowa has way to much influence on what happens in the primary season


  6. I found a new goat gif:


  7. badtux99 says:

    Yes, most of the candidates drop out by the time the California primary arrives. But on the plus side, most of the candidates have dropped out by the time the California primary arrives, so you don’t have to watch their stupid TV commercials attacking the other candidates. Lose some, win some.


  8. Dave Dugan says:

    Hey Tengrain,
    I thought I’d weigh in here, as I actually live in Iowa and have seen the bullshit go down first hand. We certainly have more than our share of bible thumpers, but the state is close to a 50/50 split on stuff like that. We had democratic governors for 12 straight years (Vilsack and Culver) before the return of Terry Braindead. We had one dem, one repug in the Senate for ages and ages, but Harkin retired and then Joni Ernst got the pigs squealing. If the Dems could put up a good candidate, they can win.
    Meanwhile, I am in complete agreement on the nonsense that is known as the Iowa Caucus. The first part of the problem is that it is designed to restrict access to the process. If you have to work when the event takes place, sorry, no soup for you! In 2008, the places in different precincts hosting the events were so small compared to the crowds wanting to participate, you could not get in the building, or the room in the building, like an elementary school gym, while party flunkies were in there passing procedural votes on a “voice vote”. It is one of the most undemocratic processes you could possibly imagine. If they really wanted to make it democratic, you’d hold an “instant run-off” vote, secret ballot, with polls open for at least a week, with absentee voting. The instant run-off takes the place of the ridiculous “horse trading” crap, and providing expanded voting opportunities maximizes participation. But they don’t want that, they want to limit participation because it is easier to control. If the rest of the country truly understood what a pathetic excuse for an electoral process it is, there would an effort to change this nonsense, but the parties control it, and they want to keep it just as it is.


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