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Rants & Reason

Run for your lives! The caucuses are coming!


The Iowa caucuses, Feb. 3, 2020, will again provide Iowa a chance to serve the nation — to usher in GOP alternatives to Donald Trump and to heal fractures in the Democratic Party.

Yeah, sure. The vision for the caucuses is anything but 20-20.

While the Iowa press proclaims Iowa, “The center of the political universe,” it looks like what awaits is more like Iowa, “The black hole into which hope and sanity disappear.”

What awaits may make the 2012 caucus look like political genius. Remember that? It was all confusion about whether Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum was the Iowa GOP winner. A website asked: “Why should we pay this much attention to a non-binding caucus that can’t get a close count straight?”

Further, appropriate for 2020 is the analogy likening aspects of the political process to sausage making. Consider:

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  • In December, the Associated Press reported Iowa U.S. Senator Charles Grassley said he will not support any Republican challenger to Trump in the primaries ahead of the 2020 election. Grassley said he will support Trump. He says anyone is welcome to campaign in Iowa…”but Chuck Grassley won’t be appearing with them.”

In late January, an email from Grassley declared: “First, I want to be very clear that it would be wrong for any member of Congress to give unqualified support to any president. I have never done so in the past with any president, and I certainly have not offered my unqualified support to the current president.”

  • With Grassley’s position clear, consider how some folks are celebrating Iowa moving into the mid-20th century. Cases in point: Full-page ads from the American Civil Liberties Union thanking Grassley for finally recognizing the need for reform in the criminal justice system; others consider it great that Gov. Kim Reynolds thinks maybe Iowa should give voting rights to felons who have served their sentences — only Iowa and Kentucky permanently ban all felons from voting unless the governor or president intervenes. Only.
  • Meantime, savvy political pundits say if the Democrats do not move to the left, they will lose; equally savvy pundits say if the Democrats move to the left, they will lose.
  • Win? Lose? Who cares? Main thing is, if you’re a Democrat declare yourself a presidential candidate. If nothing else, Trump has convinced everyone that anyone can be president.
  • Signs of polarization and divisiveness abound. Republicans ignore any past or current bad behavior by potential candidates or the president. Democrats figuratively want to lynch anyone suspected of misbehavior, even if it was 30 years ago.
  • Iowa’s 2020 prospects suffer, too, from U.S. Rep. Steve King whose observations about White Supremacy led Reynolds and other GOP folks to cast him into the political darkness. They did so after the midterm elections, when it did not cost them any votes in northwest Iowa.

Often the caucuses and Iowa politics do not put Iowa in the best light. But, the Iowa Supreme Court and the Iowa judiciary often do. The record of the Iowa Supreme Court suggests Iowa has had one of the finest state supreme courts in the nation. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature are so troubled by that reputation that they aim to politicize the way Iowa selects its judges — letting the Legislature get more involved so it can foul up still something else.

We can only hope the 2020 caucuses can cope with all the above and more problems.  But a supposed online caucus update using the name Lawchek Election Services — whether a hoax, a parody or for real — suggested the clarity of what awaits us:

“Count Down to the Iowa Caucuses Feburary 3rd, 2020!

“On Monday, Februrary 3th, 2020, there will be a major Iowa Caucuse to detarmin who will be running to face off against the current sitting President, Donald Trump. The big question is, will the President’s face any oposition from his own party?? and Will The Democrates be able to present a decient chalanger.”

For Democrats the saving grace might be that “Democrates” in the above rhymes with Socrates. These days it’s wise to cling to whatever sliver of hope you can find. ♦

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