Ioway, not Iowa, as the natives and pandering out-of-state politicians
call it. Whatever it's called, should you be as excited about the Caucus
as the media appear to be?
I'm not. Come to think of it, I wasn't excited about it in 2008, or 2004, or 1824, whenever the Caucus began.
Whoever wins, it's not going to matter. Ask Gov. Mike Huckabee, who
even with the Good Lord on his side, only got a job at Fox News out of
Basically, the format of the event, which is not even a primary, is
comparable to the number of people who showed up at a Politburo meeting
in the old days of limited democracy in the USSR. Like Leninist
democracy, the Iowa Caucus is based on the principle of democratic
centralism, in which smaller groups get together to elect bigger groups.
It's a cross between voting in an actual primary and the great American
tradition of selecting candidates in smoke-filled rooms before a
Actually, the Iowa Caucus is less democratic than the Politburo
election since it disenfranchises so many eligible voters: people who
work on Tuesday nights; folks who can't afford a baby sitter; those away
fighting our county's battles on foreign shores; people out of town on
business, or afraid of the dark. Whatever reason, only 80,000 or so
people will bother to register their choice.
It always seemed to me that the Iowa Caucus is an institution born
out of long Iowa winters. You have a lot of folks in isolated areas
spending months cooped up in their dwellings with nothing to do but
stare out of frosted windows at fields covered with snow. They need a
reason to get out of the house before, or after, they go stir crazy.
All of this, of course, was before the excitement of watching Reality
TV or going to Disneyland or going south for the winter with the money
the government has given them for not planting soybeans or sorghum.
Over the years, the parlor Grant Woods got together and played their
political version of spin the bottle. Little did they dream the media
would go ape over their little game the way they are this election
The whole thing is an exercise in futility and self-aggrandizement.
How they vote doesn't have any lasting impact. No, I shouldn't say that.
It gets to eliminate the three or four candidates at the bottom of the
Another more positive way to look at the Iowa Caucus is it's a chance
for candidates to promise to maintain price supports on crops, the
subsidies the rest of us will have to pay for the next four years. Has a
single candidate advocated getting rid of farm subsidies? We'd save
about $40 billion or $50 billion a year, enough to put a dent in paying
for Afghanistan, and even reduce the Federal deficit.
But there I go again, bringing up issues. It's about personalities,
stupid: who can eat more corndogs or shake hands better, or has the most
honest face when looking them in the eyes.
The most striking number to come out of the polling so far is the
number of Undecided. Not only about their first choice for president but
the second and third choices. By golly, it's a real brain-twister for
the Hamlets walking the ramparts late at night as the Undecided ponder,
ponder after months of watching the 16 debates, hours of commercials,
having donuts and a cup of Joe with the candidates in coffee shops in
Waterloo or Oskaloosa.
Nevertheless, the way to bet is on the Undecided. They have the balance of power, and it's scary.
I better stop, before I'm accused of electioneering without a license.
I'd recommend you take a Prozac or two to calm yourself down as you tune in to wait for the results tonight.
Meanwhile, remember: As Iowa goes... so goes nothing.