Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Rude Pundit Rants Against Iowa

There has been a lot of talk recently about the democratic silliness of having Iowa and New Hampshire play such a large, out-of-whack role in selecting the major parties' presidential nominees... Overall, I agree with the democracy argument on this one.

So, as we await the results of Iowa's totally distorted results, here is a scathing diatribe against the Iowa Caucus posted earlier today over at The Rude Pundit.

Warning: This screed contains a number of f-bombs, as well as a generally arrogant attitude toward the good people of Iowa that some readers might find annoying or offensive. Proceed at your own risk...

The Rude Pundit - January 3, 2008
"Can't Wait to Hear What the White People of Iowa Have to Say"

There's many, many reasons to despise the Iowa caucus. Gail Collins and Christopher Hitchens have covered the fucktardery of the entire process, a backwards ass clusterfuck of meetings where about 10-15% of the voting shit kickers of Iowa - who, we are constantly told, are kind, decent, thoughtful people, really, it's true - drink coffee, eat donuts or homemade brownies (because decent, kind farm folk make their own goddamn brownies, you urban assholes), and talk about who should be their party's nominee, voting until there's a winner in the room.

This comes after months and months of what can only be described as a kind of competitive brainwashing that enriches the local TV and radio stations (most of which are owned by giant corporations elsewhere), and makes the residents, the 90% or so of voters who don't give a flea's fart about the caucus, dread going to a downtown diner for the gut-wrenching fear they might be forced to shake hands with some damn Romney or Clinton. And the increasingly desperate-for-a-story media, who will hype anything, including the latest security cam video of a purse snatching or Paris Hilton's snatch, treat this like it's Sparta versus Athens.

Fuck Iowa, man. Fuckin' Iowa's the reason John Kerry became the nominee last year (which, by extension, means it's the reason, at least in part, that the nation is so Bush-fucked). And fuck Iowa for being so goddamn filled with its inflated sense of self-importance that its parties moved their puny damn caucus up to January 3. And fuck everyone who pumps up Iowans into believing they deserve to be kingmakers.

See, the Rude Pundit's problem with Iowa is one of demographics. Iowa's white, so very, very white, 91% white. 2.5% black, 3.8% Hispanic (not counting the number of illegal migrants who harvest in those archetypal farms). In other words, Iowa ain't us. The attention to the Iowa caucus is based on a myth of America, a lie that hasn't existed in decades, maybe even a century or two. It is a vestige of the rightness of whiteness. It ain't about the way that good, decent, hard-working blah-blah-blah American citizens think. It's about what that isolated island of white people says.

Oh, sure yeah, there's a great deal of good in citizens going to gathering places and talking about who might be the next president, no matter where it happens or who is doing it. People should do it more. But just because they do it doesn't mean it matters to anyone who isn't in that classroom or townhall or wherever. It really ain't news that "they came together on a snowy night last week to get up the courage to caucus" for Mike Huckabee. If that's what passes for courage these days, then, hell, when the Rude Pundit decides to go to the independent coffee shop instead of Starbucks, it must at least qualify for "strength of character."

Essentially, the whole nation is now forced to wait to see what the shit kickers of Iowa have to say. It's like everyone gathering around the Thanksgiving table and when stroke-victim Grandma starts to slurringly, slurpingly speak, the rest of the family grows silent to hear what she thinks of the meal. And if you agree with Grandma just because she's Grandma, goddamnit, then the Iowa caucus might be meaningful to you. But if you nod and smile and say, "That's fine, Grandma. Pass the gravy," then you are ready to grow up.

I could do without that condescending, ass-holey tone of this piece, that is for sure. I can guarantee all my progressive friends out there who look down their noses at everyone else not living in their coastal or urban habitats that the recipe for electoral success is not to piss off every voting bloc outside your own little bubble... the very same voting blocs that the party is trying to bring back into the fold. If the Dems are going to be viable in the future, they need to speak to white working class people in places like rural Iowa and Cleveland, Ohio. These were historically Democratic voters until the 70s when the Repubs peeled them away with divisive appeals to racism, "traditional values," nationalism and homophobia over their economic self-interest. The Dems need to win these folks back and The Rude Pundit's lame, stereo-typed assault ain't helping matters, whatever truth lies in his/her essay. Why make it personal when the problem is systemic?

That written, I will also say that if you can strip that distracting personal b.s. away, I do hear the overall point The RP is making and think there is some hard truth in it.

Every four years we go through this ridiculous and undemocratic process of the nominating charade followed by the electoral college farce. Iowa and New Hampshire DO have undo influence over the process. Every cycle there is a flurry of writing about how much this system stinks and how skewed (undemocratic) it is. Yet, nothing ever gets done to change it.

It is clear to me that the movement that needs to occur in this nation before any other movement can occur is a democracy movement... a movement to reclaim and reinvigorate our democracy.

In the new year, I resolve to try to articulate what I mean by this movement for small 'd' democracy on this blog, so stay tuned... But for now, keep watching and noting how much the current system is actually an affront to the spirit of democracy.

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