Ah, the Iowa caucuses. The first stop on the way to November 3, 2020, and the voters of a state that every four years, like a comet, get to flash through our field of vision. And like in the ancient days when comets were seen as omens and the harbingers of supernatural approval or condemnation when in reality they were just dirty cosmic snowballs off-gassing dust and vapor, the Iowa caucuses are endowed with more power and influence than nature intended.
Presidential hopes have been dashed and bolstered based on the number of people in certain small towns who can muster up the vigor to go out on a cold Monday night to some high school gym or grange hall or church basement, sip weak coffee, huddle in the corner with their friends and neighbors, and essentially look at each other and say with a shrug who they like or don’t like based on the landslides of campaign ads and eager volunteers from all across the country who have just learned how to spell Dubuque. (Spell Check thinks it should be spelled “Albuquerque.”)
So today and tonight we will be entertained by breathless commentators on cable TV who are going to make this the biggest event EVER through the night and read and re-read polls and tea leaves, trying to discern what it means when the turn-out in Van Meter is larger or smaller than the last time or whether or not Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar or Teddy the Wonder Lizard “breaks through,” whatever the hell that means.
I’d place just as much meaning on the weather prognostications of a groundhog if I knew that a hibernating rodent had as much insight as the whiteboards at MSNBC and the gesticulations of Steve Kornackie with the same access to information.
As the United States Senate is in the process of proving, we certainly have come up with a funny-sheesh way of running a nation and determining who leads it. But don’t worry: next up is New Hampshire. Now there’s the crossroads of America, eh?