This is what they want you to think, of course. Iowa is just the convenient excuse for the ruling elite to get what they want. And let's face it, what they want is the downfall of democracy. By making it as hard as possible for "folks" to attend the caucuses, they ensure that very few people will have the energy, money, transportation and time to participate in the selection process. The "grassroots democracy" of the Iowa caucuses is overgrown with choking weeds. The only beneficiaries of this endless spectacle are the TV networks and the SuperPacs raking in the dough from the contrived, horse-race frenzy of it all.
Marty Kaplan of The Jewish Journal is right on the money (the really big money) when he writes:
What a dangerous distraction the Iowa spectacle has been from the dysfunction and unfairness of democracy as we now know it. No, worse, what a cynical celebration of it. Pitifully few Americans vote, and shockingly few of them are young or poor or people of color, yet we give wildly disproportionate influence to the white rural voters of one small state whose priorities, like subsidies for corn-based ethanol, are nationally marginal, and whose disposable time for caucus-going is unimaginable to parents working multiple shifts at multiple jobs.
At the same time, what a bonanza it’s been for the state’s TV and radio stations, which have raked in tens of millions of dollars in attack ads, and what a bordello it’s been for the billionaires and special interests who’ve anonymously funded those air wars.
What a misbegotten surrogate for civic seriousness this interminable campaign has become, with news networks getting in bed with parties to co-sponsor debates, selling national ad time for those debates at Super Bowl rates and polluting public discourse with bloviating “strategists” and accountability-free predictions.And the excellent Paul Street, who knows whereof he speaks because he actually lives in Iowa, damns the state's caucuses as a classist slap in the face to democracy. People are expected to drop everything just after dinner to cast their votes. Shift-workers are denied the chance to have their voices heard. Aged and disabled people are expected to venture out in the ice and snow. Struggling parents have to find a few spare dollars for child care.
Many of these folks would seem to be precisely the sort of working class people one might expect to gain from the enactment of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ progressive domestic social agenda, including a significant increase in the federal minimum wage and single-payer (Medicare for All) health insurance. But most early evening workers can’t participate in the Iowa presidential Caucus pitting Sanders against the corporate Democrat Hillary Clinton next Monday night. There’s no federal or statewide Election Day law requiring employers to let those workers participate in the “beloved Iowa political ritual.” The prime-time workers who want to Caucus have to ask for special permission (so their bosses can find replacements) and give up lost wages to go sit and stand through hours of political deliberation.Street goes to describe what amounts to a classroom session from hell, in which boring professorial types run the show and have undue influence on the outcome of the D-Party "vote." Anybody who's ever been trapped in a company boardroom for the putative purpose of airing employee grievances knows just how this psychological warfare works. They'll wear you down, and wear you down, until your eyes bleed and you'll do anything, anything at all, to just escape and go home.
Amazingly enough, Street says, the Republican Iowa caucuses are actually more human-friendly than the Democratic variety. You simply write your choice down on a paper ballot and you're done. Voters with short attention spans are just what the right-wing doctor ordered.
Is it any wonder that the participation rate for the Iowa caucuses is only a measly 16 percent? This makes the recent, worst turnout-in-modern history Congressional midterm elections look like an overwhelming plebiscite in comparison, with a whopping one-quarter to one-half of eligible voters bothering to show up in a burst of enthusiasm.
I'm treating Iowa the same way that the Oz Gatekeeper advised Dorothy to pay no attention to the little man operating the controls behind the curtain. The show is corny, and the directors are doing their unlevel best to rig the outcome. They'll try to convince us that what happens in Iowa won't stay in Iowa. Subsidized ethanol will escape the Heartland to melt the icy climes of New Hampshire before it chemically pivots to solidify the "Black Firewall" of South Carolina, and then creeps its greasy way back west to Nevada.
Unless, of course, Bernie Sanders ekes out a victory over Hillary Clinton. If that comes to pass, we'll be told that Iowa doesn't matter after all. What counts are the Super Delegates.
So I, for one, plan to spend this evening watching the third installment of The X-Files. If the truth is anywhere out there, it's certainly not going to be coming from the prattle of CNN's Panel of Experts, or the New York Times' cracked-corn team of Live Bloggers.
|Scully: "Any thoughts as to why anybody would be growing corn in the middle of the desert?"|