Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Iowa Caucasions

With many of us not done throwing up from New Years's eve reveling, a new source of nausea commences today. The people in Iowa are making their quadrenial march to the caucas rooms to decide who they think the nominees for President should be. I don't like the Iowa caucas. And it's not just because I think the state of Iowa is unrepresentative of most of the country. The Iowans are usurpers in this process. When I was a kid, the political season had a rythmn to it. In February there was the New Hampshire primary. This was the kickoff event of the year, and always seemed to have an upset in store. Then after New Hampshire was digested, there was a Wisconsin primary. Usually in April. Wisconsin was usually a very progressive state (both for Republicans and Democrats). Between Wisconsin and the next primary ,early in the summer in Oregon, most of the other states had caucases which were controlled completely by party leaders. During this period of time, the nominees were really selected. But the media could not penetrate the workings of the machines because most states remained "uncommitted" or bound to a "favorite son"candidate. Usually a popular governor of a state who was really calling the shots, but wanted to be nominated at the convention for ego sake.

The Oregon primary seemed to always go to a candidate who was trailing and would give said candidate a shot in the arm before the big enchilada primary in California. Then the favorite would usually win in California and pretty much sew up the nomination. But you never knew for sure that the nomination had been clinched, so the conventions still had some suspense. Not a whole lot, but some. The last of these fun conventions took place in 1968.

Beginnning in 1972, because of the disaster that had befallen the Democrats at their convention in 1968, almost every state started to have a primary. This was pushed by the Democrats as a way to "open up the process" but in reality, as a way to nominate Senator George McGovern. Having survived the unbelievable disaster of 1968, it took the Democrats four full years to come up with a plan which would cause an even greater electoral debacle, but they did,as they so often do, and George went down to defeat in 49 states. Long live open government.

I think it was in 1972 when Iowa decided to push their Caucases up before the New Hampshire primary. This was done as a way to boost advertising revenues in the state in January when the John Deere ads are down awhile after Christmas. It worked and we still have the damn thing today. It is an interesting process. Every Corn and pig farmer in the state can personally meet every candidate and get a real feel for who is going to run the country.Every motel room in the state and every small town diner has their biggest sales, and most everyone up there is happy.Except at dinner, when you get, on average, six to eight calls a night from Presidential hopefuls.

This year we have one of the largest fields in history. If the polls are to be believed, and for a caucas, there'so reason why they should be, Mitt Romeny or Mike Huckabee will win on the Republican side, and the three major contenders, Edwards, Clinton and Obama will have a photo finish. If Edwards loses, he's probably out of the race. Same for Huckabee. Too bad, I like those two. There are amazingly naieve politicians, but they seem like such nice guys. The other contenders all look like the usual run of the mill candidates, although one is black, one is Mormon and one is a woman.Isn't that funny, how non-run of the mill politicians can look and act so run of the mill ? That's what American politics does to candidates. Of the contenders tonight, I disagree on the issues most with Edwards and Huckabee. Neither has an Iowa hog's chance at the slaughter house of gaining the nomination, but these guys say what they mean,and appear to mean what they say, and that really ought to count for something.It never has before, but it really should. If they don't win, it will mean that,once again, the most sincere candidates have been crushed by the unconscionable amounts of money feeding into the ad agencies in Des Moines. In other words, the American system will have prevailed.


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