Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hey Iowa! We don't care what you think!

Why should you set the pace for national campaigns? Are your 3,000,000 residents representative of the whole rest of the country? That's a tough one, I know, so let me help you with the answer: NO.

Only 3,000,000 residents? Mostly white and still fairly bigoted? And you set the pace for the rest of us? Chicago alone, the third-largest city in the U.S., has a population equal to all of Iowa. The population of the U.S. is now 300,000,000. What percentage of the whole country do Iowans represent?


So why did you move the date for the caucus up from 19 January in 2004 to 3 January in 2008, when around 20 states scheduled their primaries for 5 February? So you could retain your role as the pace car? Did you ask us if we wanted you to be the pace car? Why didn't it occur to you to join the other states on the new Super-Duper Tuesday in February? Because you like the limelight and don't want to give it up? You really make important decisions based on what's good for the country. You are to be commended.

What I expressed hope for in my 1 July 2005 post about the primary system was that all primaries would take place on a single day so that earlier small-state primaries would have no influence on later large-state primaries. Well at least the primary for my state, California, has been moved up from 2 March to 5 February. It's better than nothing, but it still allows Iowa and New Hampshire to have inappropriate influence on each candidate's momentum.

Maybe it's the media's fault. Maybe the media should just ignore the Iowa caucus so that trailing candidates would stay in the race longer and let the more representative larger states have a say in who is eventually nominated. The Iowa caucus is about as nationally significant as the election of the senior-class president at a rural high school.


kalliope said...

I have to admit I used to agree with your opinion in regards to Iowa's relevance, but they did a pretty good job yesterday don't you think? In retrospect the residents of this state spend considerable personal time learning about the candidates, and devoted a couple of hours of their time in the caucuses. More time, and in a larger percentage per capita than most Americans turnout for national elections. The results were uplifting for all the reasons that you believe Iowa isn't relevant. If Iowa is ready for change, than perhaps middle America is too. OBAMA '08.

Jonathan Versen said...

Iowa: 92 percent white;
New Hampshire:96 percent white.

I don't think it's so much Iowa and New Hampshire who are responsible so much as (ahem...cough, cough)powerful institutional forces that could interfere and take these early-bird primaries away from IA and NH, but have thus far chosen not to.

Or to put it another way: if corporations run America, why are they choosing to sacrifice the advertising windfall that big media would enjoy if California and New York State were 1st up, with their saturation of TV and radio stations and super-expensive airtime?

It already costs a sh**load to advertise in LA-- can you imagine how much more expensive airtime would be for political ads if California had the first primary?

But the presumptive powers that be pass up this payday. Hmmm.

California couldn't supply the pleasing mask of folksy intimacy whereby the candidates could go through endless photo-ops meeting real people in cozy down-home settings in little New England towns of a few hundred or so. (well, they probably could, but their ignoring the big cities to do so would kinda call attention to itself.)

Iowa and New Hampshire: if they didn't exist, Hollywood would have to invent them, so that we believe that democracy works.

Anyway, hi-- I hope you had a nice holiday.