(This started out as a reply to BJ and twandx, on the "They don't fool around in Iowa" blog entry. It got so big I figured it would be better to make a diary out of it.)
BJ and twandx, You Nailed It.
We don't have a presidential primary in Iowa. We have caucuses. In order to cast a vote in the presidential primary you must present your body at the caucus. No exceptions.
If you're working, can't get a sitter or are physically unable to leave the house, that's too bad. Your vote won't be counted. No excuses.
If you don't have transportation we're sorry. Most busses don't run at night in Iowa and there are none at all in this little town, nor do we have taxis. Find someone you can ride with or hoof it. If you're not there, you don't count.
Scheduled a non-refundable vacation trip without checking to see when the caucuses were? Too bad. Choose between the beach in January or driving to the caucus in a blizzard.
Your daughter selected January 5 to get married in Phoenix? Sorry. The wedding or the caucus. Take your pick.
You must be there in the flesh, standing on the side of the room designated as your candidate's. If you're not, your voice will not be heard.
What this means is that it's mostly political junkies who attend the caucuses. Our turnout rate is abysmal. While the headlines after the last election trumpeted Iowa's "high turnout", the fact is that exactly 18.9% of registered voters in Iowa turned out for the caucuses and a whopping 4.67% stood for Barack Obama.
Even more important, it also means that it's pathetically simple to manipulate the system. twandx, you are entirely correct about the obots running the caucuses. Ours was directed by a former local resident who had moved out of state a decade ago. I have to hand it to him. He kept everyone so busy minding their manners and saying "Hi, Chip. How are ya'?" that nobody thought to object to what he was doing in between greetings. What he was doing was electioneering for Obama...in blatant violation of Democrat rules which state that outsiders may attend the caucuses to observe but are not allowed to participate.
While I can see Illinois from where I sit here at the computer, our little town didn't suffer the outright fraud that larger towns along the river did, so far as I know. (Though you could call our obot a fraud.) We're small enough that everyone knows everyone else and it would be difficult to bring in ringers. It was far worse in the larger cities across the river from Illinois.
This system is so unrepresentative as to be almost unconstitutional. Changing it will be difficult, though. Iowans tend to be a bit hidebound when it comes to change...all the more remarkable in view of their support of Obama. We're still suffering from a high level of kool-aid addiction here.
If you don't have time to click on that link, there's something I'd like to highlight from the story:
The result is that some 39.5% of registered Democrats and 20% of registered Republicans participated in the caucuses.
Here before you is the proof that Barack Obama "won" this election because Republicans were so demoralized by their own president that they stayed home in droves.
This is why I could never register Republican. They have been responsible for the two worst presidents of my lifetime.
A P.S. here: As I've been typing, I've been remembering back to our caucus last January. A couple of things register with me now that did not at the time. First was a subtle feeling of hostility from the Obama side of the room. Standing first for Bill Richardson and then for John Edwards (I know, I know) I got several disapproving glances from friends in the Obama camp. The general attitude seemed to be, "Don't you know this is already decided? Why haven't you gotten on the bandwagon?" I can't ever recall feeling so uncomfortable with my own party.
Another thing that registers now is that none of the locals in the Obama camp put much effort into attracting attendees standing for a candidate who had proven to be unviable. ("Unviable" means the candidate has failed to accumulate a minimum number of voters and is now tossed out of the equation. At this point, you can stand for another candidate who IS viable or go home.) Clinton's and Edwards' people tried hard to move us into their camps. Obama's local supporters were content to let their imported obot do the heavy lifting. I realize now that was because they had no arguments to present except "hope and change". Even the obot had nothing of substance but he was, like BO, excellent at presentation.
The air of entitlement from the Obama camp will stay with me forever. They could provide no logical reasons to vote for Barack Obama, yet they condemned me for not doing so.
My Congressman ignores my communications, instead sending me franked, taxpayer-paid, glossy, full-color campaign mailings under the guise of keeping me informed. My Democrat Senator carries the president's water unfailingly and wants praise for doing so.
These "Democrats" hijacked my party and drove me out. It'll be strange to miss the 2012 caucus but I see no point in wasting my time on an event that is nothing more than theater. It is most certainly not representation.ShareThis