By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – Pardon my French, but I going to use a bad word.
It’s a four-letter word, actually.
And it sums up our seriously flawed national election process that generally leaves us choosing between the lesser of two perceived evils (actually, there really was one this past time around).
Here it is: Iowa.
In and of its self, Iowa is a harmless Midwestern state – bordered by six others – with a population that ranks it 31st (under 1 percent of the national population).
Despite an impressively high per capita rate of six minor league hockey teams, Iowa’s population ranks below Puerto Rico (which should be a state and isn’t, despite having no minor league hockey teams).
To put it into perspective, at 3.2 million people, the Philadelphia metropolitan region is nearly twice its size.
And yet, in a political process that is already poisoned by special interest dollars, Iowa is the flashpoint state.
Its caucuses come first, meaning those SuperPAC dollars are disproportionately dumped into it so that candidates can get the desired outcome – a win or a solid enough showing – that there is a slingshot effect for another smaller state, New Hampshire, that is also not really reflective of the face of the American electorate.
On top of all this, Iowa does not hold primaries, where votes are cast and counted. It’s a caucus. And it would be nice if the mainstream media spent less time salivating over the latest polls that show the flavor-of-the-month underdog – i.e. Pete Buttigieg – on top and more on just what a caucus even is (and if it is a fair process).
That aside, just in terms of the batting order, giving Iowa this much importance – particularly in what could be the most important election of our lifetimes – is something that should have been noticed and rectified a long time ago.
I would postulate that it is just as dangerous – and maybe even more – than keeping the arcane Electoral College intact.
This isn’t the first time I have written about this major hitch in our get-a-long, and it won’t be the last.
There are other stones in my show, in terms of the process. I personally have an issue with currently elected politicians short-changing their own constituency to run for president. If you want to run, resign or wait until your term is up. At the very least, a senator should not run as a junior senator from a state unless the senior one gives it his or her blessing.
But that aside, starting off with Iowa, and heavily weighing its importance based on the results, is how and why we are where we are today.
While some who agree would say the primaries should be held in one day, I’m not so sure that is the healthiest way to handle it, either.
My plan, which is not new to you my loyal flock of readers, is to roll the primaries (not caucuses) in the order they came into the Union, and in larger blocks – with more time in between.
That would mean a whole lot of campaigning in what are the 13 original colonies. While that creates a geographical imbalance, it would be more representative of our populace from the standpoint of diversity and ethnicity (if you find any Jews or Italians in heavily Protestant – and evangelical — Iowa, send up a flare).
Those results will provide a much clearer picture of who is or is not a legitimate candidate, as opposed to an underdog that Iowa voters get a buzz out of propping up because, well, it makes them seem more relevant than they really are.
If candidates are unable to campaign in 13 original states from the outset, they probably should not have been candidates in the first place, right?
And if they get swept away by that first day, bowing out would make more sense than not doing well in Iowa and/or New Hampshire (excuse me while I yawn).
The next group of primaries would be: Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.
That would be followed by another big day: Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine and Missouri.
Still no Iowa? Nope, still no Iowa.
It is a more accurate sense, from a cross-section of America, of where the pulse of the electorate is – as opposed to where the media and fat cat donors want it to be.
Iowa? Admitted as a state in 1846, it would get to go in the next group of those admitted before the Civil War.
That means it would join Michigan, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Oregon and Kansas. Some bigger states in there, and they may not think that to be fair.
How do you think the rest of us feel when we turn on the idiot box each day and hear “Iowa, Iowa, Iowa” while the country, literally, burns to the ground?
This column appeared in The Times Herald on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.