Sunday, January 31, 2016

Iowa gets its place in the spotlight

Once every four years, Iowa becomes the center of the political universe. For a brief shining moment, all the world looks to Iowa.

Or, as my dad used to say, the sun even shines on a dog's ass once in a while!

Not to knock Iowa, which I'm sure is a lovely state featuring corn and ... well, probably some other stuff. No, I'm convinced it's great to Iowans everywhere, like my pal Spazeboy, who loved Iowa so much he couldn't wait to escape to our beloved Connecticut.

Seriously though, I grant that Beau loves Iowa, but this post isn't about him.

It's about the Iowa Caucus.

The Iowa Caucus is noteworthy only because of it's place on the calendar. The caucus electorate in Iowa comprises of an overwhelming number of white middle-class voters. There is nearly zero representation of any ethnically diverse peoples. Iowa is definitely the whitest caucus state in the union. (It makes me think that's where the term "Caucasian" comes from!)

A lot has been said recently about how non-inclusive the Academy Awards field is this year, and yet, almost nothing is being made of the first two states to cast votes for both party's eventual nominees. You think the Oscars are white? Check out Iowa and New Hampshire!

So why are they given so much political currency in the primary process? And also, while we're at it, why does New Hampshire traditionally get to be the first state in the union to allow voters to go to the voting booth and make their wishes known? In the 2010 census New Hampshire was 93.9% white. Iowa was 91.3% white. Both states are a wide margin from representing the national makeup of ethnicities in our nation.

Yet, the result of these two early election-year contests goes a long way towards determining who stays in the race; who gets the big money, and who goes home. Because the reason politicians get to even stay in the race until the convention is typically because of big money.

Big money is the main reason we have so little diversity among most of our candidates today. It matters little that people like you or me (us 99.999997% of people without the Koch brothers-like money) make contributions to our candidates, only to be out-donated by big-time candidates backed by huge special interests, like Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz. The only candidates who seem to be avoiding the pitfalls of being indentured to big donors are Donald Trump (who can easily self-fund his campaign), and Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump is pretty much indentured to his own interests, seeing as he's basically his OWN super-pac.

Bernie Sanders receives nearly all of his money from individual donations. Now, I'm not going to go into the minutia of what constitutes individual donations, except to say there is no doubt that Bernie gets a much, much larger percentage of his funding from actual people, rather than large corporate interests, like Hillary Clinton does.

Despite my deepest wishes, I'm very pragmatic. My heart wants Sanders to win, or to make a spirited run for the nomination. In doing that, he can be the conscience of the Democratic Party, and help frame the way we go into the next four or eight years. Dennis Kucinich was that, back before the Republicans gerrymandered him out of office.

But my head is telling me that Hillary will get the nomination and most likely the White House. And I'll vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination, regardless. Within reason, that is.

So, should Sanders not get the nod, and it looks fairly likely that'll be the case, I'll go to the voting booth (it's not really a booth anymore, more like a fold-up three-card monty table; and yes, the irony isn't lost on me) and vote for Hillary.

And when she wins, I'm sure I'll have that same uneasy satisfaction of having elected the first woman president (as I did when we elected the first black president), whom I hope will do a good job, but will likey be the source of some disappointment similar to what we've experienced with our current president.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are cut from the same cloth, and I will not be surprised if Hillary reacts with the same level of conservatism that Obama has. Really, there hasn't been a true liberal president since LBJ. And he was a serious asshole most of his life!

Of course, if we are swearing in President Sanders a year from now, I'll be breaking out the Moet and setting off fireworks in my backyard!

Because I don't doubt for a second that Bernie will bring the "hope and change" that we've been looking for!

(I guess this represents my official endorsement of Bernie Sanders for president. Talk about burying the lead!)


Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary if I have to, just like i did for Malloy. The only time it's fun to be Democrat is primary season: Lamont - twice, Bernie!

CT Bob said...

Very true Jon. Primaries are great fun, but I don't think I'll be thrilled when the general election rolls around. And Hillary doesn't enjoy 1/2 of the popularity Obama had going into the general. It's gonna be a case of "welp, at least she's not a Republican" yet again.