IOWA….In the American Prospect, Paul Waldman writes about the absurdity of the fact that we allow the Iowa caucuses to essentially choose the next president of the United States:
This system is not merely curious or even unfair, it is utterly perverse. This isn’t just because the rest of us get virtually no say in who the parties’ nominees are. It’s also because of this simple fact: No small group of Americans deserves this power, but if any does, it sure isn’t the citizens of Iowa.
….If this is a typical election, somewhere between 6 and 10 percent of voting-eligible Iowans will bother to show up to a caucus. Yes, you read that right. Those vaunted Iowa voters are so concerned about the issues, so involved in the political process, so serious about their solemn deliberative responsibilities as guardians of the first-in-the-nation contest, that nine out of ten can’t manage to haul their butts down to the junior high on caucus night. One might protest that caucusing is hard — it requires hours of time and a complicated sequence of standing in corners, raising hands, and trading votes (here is an explanation of the ridiculousness). But so what? If ten presidential candidates personally came to your house to beg for your vote, wouldn’t you set aside an evening when decision time finally came?
What’s really remarkable, though, is that Iowa has gotten more important over time, not less, even though everybody knows this is absurd. We know it, the media knows it, the party knows it, the candidates know it — hell, even the Iowans know it. And this year, as a sort of destruction test of the whole concept, we’re going to see what happens when the Democratic candidates flood the cornfields with a combined total of — what’s your guess? $50 million? — in an effort to find out if it’s possible to actually lose votes by spending too much money. My guess: yes it is. Yee haw!