Grumble grumble Trump. Grumble grumble impeachment. Grumble grumble senate. Grumble grumble State of the Union. Grumble grumble Brexit.
In this, the winter of our discontent, the Iowa Democratic Party and the state’s quirky method of awarding primary election delegates, steps into the breach and mutters, wild eyed, “Hold my beer.”
For my entire life, Iowa has been the “first in the nation” to express their choice in the primary cycle. It’s a valuable piece of electoral real estate and has always given Iowa an out sized importance during election years.
If the Iowa Democratic Party didn’t single handedly end both the state’s first in the nation role and ye olde caucus method of casting votes, I’ll be amazed. The first story from the heart of primary season is of a party and an entire slate of candidates in disarray. The campaigns and the DNC can’t be happy that the biggest story of the election isn’t an impeached president, but rather a relatively small Midwestern state’s inability to count the 147 people or so who live there and report back who they caucused for in something like a timely and efficient manner.
It’s the kind of thing that basically writes it’s own Republican ad. It’s not hard to imagine the tens of thousands of mailers coming out of print shops even now asking “If the Democrats can’t be trusted to hold their own caucus in Iowa, how can you trust them to run the federal government.”
Accurate or not, fair or not, reporting on the debacle in Iowa will be red meat for the opposition. The fact that it appears that figuring out how and where Iowa Democrats came flying off the rails is going to take well over 24 hours is just embarrassing… especially when receiving precinct reports and tabulating totals feels like something that could be achieved over the phone using a pretty basic Excel spreadsheet without all that much fuss. It really, really shouldn’t have been a heavy lift.
Sometime presumably late tonight after I’ve drug my decrepit bones to their well-deserved rest, a winner will be announced for the Iowa Republican and Democratic caucuses. What happens between now and then is something of a mystery to me – and I spent a good part of my formative years studying the vagaries of the US political system. Suffice to say that around 7PM central standard time the caucusing starts, neighbors fill schools, church basements, bus stops, outhouse, and gun shops to argue for their candidate until a sufficient number of people have given up arguing and a winner can be declared by each party.
At that point, the victors take the stage, say a few nice things about Iowa and then commit to taking the fight on to new Hampshire so they can do it all again. There will be less arguing in New Hampshire at least since they vote in primaries like normal, civilized people. Plus the other primary elections will start coming on now thick as thieves. No one place will garner as much attention as has been focused on poor, lonely Iowa.
If there’s any comfort to be drawn from tonight’s first-in-the nation electoral matchup, it’s that we’ve at least reached the end of the beginning for Election 2016. So far it’s been mostly sound and fury, campaign stops and press events. Now they’re playing for points and some of the pretenders are going to start falling away as we march on towards the nominating conventions and the general election in November.
It’s not over by a long shot, but as all the other states start coming into play, we’re going to get a temporary reprieve from coverage of all Iowa all the time. Then two primary winners (and probably a splinter candidate or two) will trudge on through summer making the last big push and blanketing the airwaves with uninterrupted political analysis and advertisements. Finally, on the day after the Tuesday following the first Monday in November there will be a moment of blissful silence while the transition machine sputters to life – assuming the election doesn’t split the popular and electoral votes or get thrown to the courts to adjudicate.
Then it’s time to start chattering about the 2018 midterms and speculating on who the out party will nominate for 2020 and the whole damned circus winds itself up again; with the ads and the debates and the commentary and suddenly before we know it we’re right back in Iowa doing the whole thing one more time. It’s the election cycle that never ends.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe people despise politics and its practitioners. Now, of course, is not one of those times.