At the Caucus

About 100 folks attended the Democratic Caucus in mariner’s home town. Two attendees stood in Martin O’Malley’s corner – mariner and his wife. It was only a few moments before we were asked to move to the ‘undecided’ table because Martin did not have enough votes to meet the minimum 15% required to be a sustainable candidate.

But we weren’t undecided. No matter, we had to abandon our candidate and choose another one. The Iowa Democratic Caucus, unlike the town republicans, and for that matter, the rest of the caucuses and primaries across the nation, has the right to deny one’s vote as valid. Clearly, this winnowing procedure is designed to glean “probable” winners from others who, at the first caucus, have yet to generate sufficient interest from the voters.

The mariner respects the interaction and debate fostered by the Iowa caucus process. Further, the caucus forces big-time candidates to meet local voters face to face, eat barbecued chicken, let the voters touch them and ask questions no politician will answer directly. In too many jurisdictions around the United States, the primary process is sterile, mechanical and allows no moment for the voter to see or listen to a real-life candidate.

The mariner has concern that the very first ‘democratic’ primary in the national election process tosses out legitimate candidates any of which may become a dark horse later in the season. He especially is concerned that the democratic party has the right to coerce a voter to cancel their preferred vote and select another candidate – shades of Boss Tweed! True, one could be obstinate and refuse to change their vote but one foregoes representation in the caucus process.

Despite the romantic grandeur cast over Iowa’s unique primary process, the process is outdated. For months ahead, sophomoric news media derails any legitimate attempt to compare candidates on a level playing field. Consider the dominance of Donald on news broadcasts, gleaning more than 100 minutes of free air time compared to virtually none for any of a half-dozen legitimate politicians. Further, so much money is available to candidates that they can continue to campaign despite their irrelevance. Consider Jeb – then consider O’Malley who had to suspend his campaign with only $175,000 left in campaign funds. Yet, Jeb has spent and still has coffers that will carry him to the Convention with half the voter percentage that O’Malley has.

Seasoned attendees to the Iowa Caucus have stories to tell about the dissolution of friendships because open debate among voters is allowed and, if nothing else, one can see who chose which candidate. Even at this caucus, the mariner must patch the hard feelings of a good friend because he did not stand for the appropriate candidate.

All things considered, mariner is most troubled that one person, one vote does not prevail. What makes the Iowa democratic party any different than race discrimination in Alabama and Mississippi? They, too, prevent one from having one’s voice heard at the ballot box; those states just do it differently.

Ancient Mariner