It Begins

It’s Iowa Caucus Day. The circus has begun. Gail Collins writes about how absurd the Iowa Caucuses are and why no one should take them seriously. However, they will be taken seriously.

I got a kick out of David “Bwana” Broder’s take on Iowa versus New Hampshire:

That system empowers the activists and those with built-in organizational ties who can mobilize people to leave their homes for a couple of hours on a weeknight and motivate them to declare a public — not private — preference for a candidate.

On the Republican side, those networks belong principally to conservative Christian groups, antiabortion organizations, home-school advocates and some economic interests.

On the Democratic side, organized labor and the teachers boast the best networks, but the main impulse is a broader populist tradition that tugs the Democratic Party of Iowa to the left. That tradition may go back to the days of Henry Wallace, the Iowa-born vice president under FDR. But it has been embodied in recent decades by Tom Harkin, the longtime Democratic senator who ran for president himself in 1992 and quickly fell behind the more moderate Bill Clinton and Paul Tsongas.

Harkin has accustomed Iowa Democrats to a red-meat diet of anti-corporate rhetoric, a tradition he shared with the late Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. That theme was echoed this year and in 2004 by John Edwards and was imitated — with varying degrees of conviction — by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the closing stages of the Iowa race.

It has been an Iowa pattern to tilt the Democratic race leftward and the Republican race to the right. And often it has been New Hampshire, where the primary turnout approximates the pattern of the overall electorate, that restores the balance and corrects for the distorting effects of the Iowa dynamic.

Populism clearly is distressing to Bwana. How he longs for the days when well-bred aristocrats in powdered wigs and satin coats gathered in tastefully decorated drawing rooms to make decisions on behalf of the simple peasants.

18 thoughts on “It Begins

  1. Pingback: Presidential election 2008 |Republicans Vs. Democrats » It Begins

  2. Oh dear, it’s all up to those bomb-throwing anarchist Iowans.

    Last night I watched a PBS bio on Andrew Jackson (man, was that guy a mixed bag– but never mind). In 1824 I think it was, J.Q. Adams won the Electoral Cotes when Henry Clay gave his electors’ votes to Adams. Jackson had clearly won the popular vote, and prior to Clay’s maneuver, had had the most electoral votes of four presidential candidates.

    Not that things had improved at all by the year 2000. But it is weird to hear Broder waxing nostalgic for the early 19th Century. He needs a glove slap, followed by a demand for satisfaction, suh! That might snap him out of it.

  3. Typical Broder. He could have argued in the interests of the broader electorate that one state having that much power was undemocratic in a small-d sense. Instead, he argues that Iowa politics is way too progressive and radically people-centered, so we can’t have that. As Maha has commented, some guys just went nuts over the DFH’s during the 60’s and have never gotten over their horror about that.

  4. “How absurd the Iowa caucuses are”

    I think the whole primary process is absurd, why don’t we just have a national primary and get the dam thing over with. I mean this 2-year election thing is ridiculous; the cable news stations pretty much ignore everything but these silly primaries. Aren’t we still at war in 2 countries? Isn’t the administration under investigation for illegal torture? Didn’t the FCC just sell out more control to “big media”. Doesn’t congress have to amend the “FISA” law again? Did Pakistan’s government just murder it’s political rival? etc. Yet if one turns on the cable news it has been wall-to-wall political “horse race” nonsense. I believe in the end all this constant campaigning does is benefit the establishment candidates by making people just plain sick and tired of politics. The less people that participate always benefits the status quo doesn’t it?

    Maha: Good to see your back online.

  5. Pingback: Hillary Clinton » It Begins

  6. Is Broder a neoconservative? A devotee of old Leo Strauss who preached that the masses must be kept loyally in line behind the leaders ‘superior’ wisdom and insight, and that society works best when a vanguard of elite leaders decide what is best? And then of course what they decide must be packaged in such a way that the idiot masses will accept it all without question – perhaps even with gusto.

    Broder, Kristol, Wolfowitz, Podhoretz… to replace well-dressed aristocrats in powdered wigs?

  7. Isn’t the administration under investigation for illegal torture?

    NO!…According to the “Military Commissions Act” recently passed into law torture is now fully legal. It just can’t be called torture,instead it is obscured in semantics and refered to as enhanced interrogations. The investigation is over the destruction of the torture tapes and not the act of torturing. America is now a nation that uses torture with the full protections of law thanks to the immoral dolts in Congress who signed on to Bush’s criminal activities.

  8. erinyes,

    Thanks for the link. Yes it seems that song has some meaning (I always hated it, never could get past the music to listen to the lyrics) unfortunately the Eagles chose to produce the song as some silly post-disco dance tune, and I believe that’s how it was received (by me anyway). Now I believe they are only selling their new album at wal-mart, that defiantly counts me out, never been in wal-mart, never will. I think my point was that all this silly coverage of these never ending political races really lets the media off the hook. It works right into their plans of spending less money, giving less information, selling more ad time. The networks never really look into a candidate’s positions, they just have the candidate’s spin-doctors come on air and give the condensed stump-speech. Did they have to pay a journalist any money? No. Does the viewer have a better understanding of their position? No. They just rely on the fact that most of their viewers are either too stupid, or too indifferent to notice.

  9. Swami,

    Yes your right, they are under investigation for destroying evidence that they tortured before our lovely representatives made it sort of legal. Still if the “MSM” would cover the dam story maybe our representatives would get a clue. As it is now I think only the “Justice” department has opened an inquiry. Maybe if we had some good old fashioned liberal media pressure Harry Ried and Nancy Pelosi would get off their asses and do something. Like I said this “no information media” benefits all politicians, they are by nature half-steppers, only trying to re-elected with the least amount of controversy and effort.

  10. Not only have the Iowa caucuses gained a pulse-pounding, heavy-breathing significance not known in previous years, but I see now they have transcended the limits of space-time as we know it. Chris Matthews is already analyzing the results, and, since it’s only 4:30 on the West Coast, I’m pretty sure the actual caucuses haven’t begun yet. Awesome.

  11. I see that Huckabee won the GOP primary in Iowa..That’s good and that’s bad. The bad is that there are enough people out there who would support a pandering clown like Huckabee, and the good is that if Huckabee gains the nomination it will be a sure defeat for the GOP come November. I don’t think America is going to embrace a failed televangelist who is dedicated to doing God’s work.
    When you can’t sucker a large enough audience by offering $100.00 wood chips from olive trees just like the kind of trees Jesus watered with his tears in Gethsemane, or convince enough social shut-ins to place their hand on their TV screens as a point of faith while commiting to sow seed faith money to your ministry —then its time to take your Jesus into the political arena to increase your pickins. For old Huckster its..”pressed down, shaken together..and overflowing”

  12. Pingback: The Teacher’s Mailroom : The Obama Phenomenon

  13. They just rely on the fact that most of their viewers are either too stupid, or too indifferent to notice…uncledad

    Or if neither, and they notice, what can they do about it?

    Only shut off their TV, which people have been doing in steadily increasing numbers. Enough to make TV executives very nervous. It’s not just greed increasing the ad time and throwing promos over the shows as they are running. It’s, in their mind, dire necessity.

    Which only drives more people away from their televisions. This might be a back-handed way of progressing.

  14. Good to see you back, Maha. Let’s see if I got un-twit-filtered in the process…

    The Iowa caucuses may be unrepresentative but I think it’s much more important to get rid of the Electoral College, which was created to perpetuate slavery and remains an undemocratic and reactionary force as it gives too much power to sparsely populated and conservative states. Nine states have 50% of the population but only 18% of the seats in the Senate, and their role in electing the president is similarly diluted.

Comments are closed.