Monday, January 2, 2012
My senior year of college I took a course on electoral politics and at the end of the semester we were tasked with writing a paper as to the necessity of the Presidential primary process in its current state (this was in November of 2004 after the failure of Kerry-Edwards) (Remember them?) as well as the purpose of the electoral college. Were either representative of our democracy? How could they be changed in order to keep fairness and ensure that every person in the country was able to cast a vote that would count.
After the papers were written a debate was held for us to defend our positions on the primary system. It wasn’t until the end when I sighed deeply and in all my let’s just blurt this shit out, glory I said “Um, HELLO?! THERE ARE NO BLACK PEOPLE!” Righteously indignant I was with a professor that appreciated my candor as no one else had pointed out this glaring fact about the states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
At the time I had never been to New Hampshire, never stepped foot in the wee town of Concord and heard stories from shop owners telling how Joe Lieberman once shoveled their front walk in return for a vote. I found that the people of New Hampshire weren't so much turned off by politics but accepting of their role in the process and they would shrug while telling tales of two Clintons. And tonight, on the eve of the caucuses, Iowans are walking around Des Moines right now either annoyed with having Rick Santorum in their face every other second or fist pumping and saying ‘FUCK YEAH’ to their first in the nation status. I don’t blame them for being proud of this part of their culture but it bothers me. Oh, how it bothers me.
I cannot be the first to say that these two tiny states are in no way representative of this country and its 309 million inhabitants. Thus the glaring unfairness and giant middle finger to the non-white, urban dwellers of this country forces me to scratch my head in curiosity. Life isn’t fair, this I know, but for a country that takes so much pride in being a representative democracy and the pains we have gone through to be almost, truly, representative it baffles me the way in which pundits have taken the First In the Nation status and made Iowa and New Hampshire the be all end all of electoral politics.
Over the last two Presidential cycles we have seen a trend of front-loading: States that are not Iowa or New Hampshire trying to get an earlier spot in the primary calendar with the hopes of actually being able to vote in a FAIR and DEMOCRATIC fashion for the candidate of their choice. Thus the party committees have allowed for states like Nevada and South Carolina to get in on the January action thus giving a semblance of balance but it doesn’t work that way. The pundits with their papers and statistics and fundraisers with dollar amounts in their eyes still see the first in the nation as the first in a competition to get rid of at least one or two candidates. Never mind that four - FOUR - of the GOP contenders failed to get on the ballot in Virginia (who cares about Virginia? That is until you need it to win the general election but now? eh. It’s just Virginia) they have Iowa. They have poll numbers and county-by-county visits and individual people to spoil thus giving Iowans the ability to say that their vote really does matter. But what about the rest of us?
Tomorrow approximately 3 million people - 1% of the entire population of this country - will essentially decide the fate of this Presidential election. How does that make you feel?
More on the Iowa Caucuses:
Iowa Caucuses: Do they really matter?
The Overhyped, Unrepresentative Iowa Caucuses
Iowa Caucus Voters Lack Enthusiasm (if Mitt Romney was all up in my face I'd be less than enthusiastic too)
Scenes leading up to the Iowa Caucuses