I hate meta. And yet, here we have it.
We are an impatient people. We watch impatient old media. They create narratives because they are impatient. We listen to those tired narratives because we are so predictably impatient.
The old media hand wringing on the evening of the Iowa Caucus was a thing to behold. I spent my time watching their coverage screaming obscenities at the onscreen talking heads throughout the night. You’d have thought the cable networks had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their brand new sets and on their ominous, yet vaguely patriotic, “Decide Something 2020” theme music. Instead, we got a really bad remake of the 1970 Mary Tyler Moore Show election night blizzard episode “The Snow Must Go On”. Watch the original, it’s hilarious.
Old media had to wait, what, seventy-two hours, for an approximation of the final results of a CAUCUS, the first voting event in a line of fifty-seven or so (states, commonwealths, territories). They wanted to declare an ultimate winner THAT VERY NIGHT. How dare the Iowa Democratic Party hold a caucus like that. You know, with (very public) formulas and arcane rules. Yawn.
If you’ve ever participated in a caucus they’re all like that. [Raises hand: Missouri, 1992.] Forget that it took months for an “official winner” of the Iowa republican caucus several cycles back.
The 2020 Iowa Caucus was the best thing to happen to presidential politics in America in a long time. Maybe 2020 will be a final stake in the heart of this money sucking, faux populist, abomination of true Democracy.
Caucuses are inherently undemocratic while simultaneously being small “d” democratic. You can’t “vote” at will over a period of your choosing in the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on the day of the caucus. You have to show up before they figuratively “lock the doors” at the appointed hour and then you have to stay for the duration to have your vote counted. Who does this cockamamie process exclude? I’ll wait.
Candidates spent tens of millions in Iowa. Several campaigns, with stellar candidates, ran out of resources and the approval of conventional wisdom long before the first vote was cast. That’s a tragedy for all of us. The candidates spent tens of millions of dollars in Iowa. Think about that.
It’s on us because we let this happen, election after election.
There’s a lot to be said for retail politics, the art and charm of presidential candidates getting out there and engaging voters one on one. Get over it. You don’t live there. There are a lot of Americans who don’t get that opportunity to engage with candidates who want to be their president, because somehow we’ve anointed two small states with a tiny percentage of voters (and low turnout) and with a minimal number of nominating delegates at stake to act as the final arbiters and gatekeepers of our viable and/or electable candidates for president.
Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, to name a few, are no longer candidates. Tulsi Gabbard hangs on, still. I rest my case.
So, here we are, with eight or so candidates remaining in the Democratic Party presidential nominating process and old media chomping at the bit to create winners and losers narratives. The next two components of the process include another arcane caucus and an honest to goodness primary. We’ll see what happens. Old media will lazily build on their previous narratives or gaslight us all if they change them. Then it’s fifty-three or so primaries or caucuses to go. Get my drift?
In the meantime, a trend on social media:
Adam Best @adamcbest
#PresidentWarren is trending because despite her being 3rd in delegates, 3rd in most national polls and 2nd in endorsements, the media acts as if she doesn’t exist. So her supporters are dealing with this blackout by making sure voters know she’s still here and still kicking ass.
3:40 PM · Feb 17, 2020