Kiss My Caucus

By Thomas Lindaman

January 3rd came and went…and the political world didn’t end! Oh, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd both dropped out of contention for the Democrats after the Iowa Caucuses, but they weren’t exactly lighting up the Democrat side that much. Besides, in Biden’s case, I think he was just copying Dodd’s strategy.

Yet, to hear some people out there, the Iowa Caucuses are some sort of monstrosity that threatens the fabric of our democracy. (Of course, if we had a democracy, we might have a reason to be worried.) People from California to Florida, New York to Los Angeles, have questioned why Iowa gets to go first in the nation and have had some not-so-nice things to say about the Hawkeye State in the process. Californians have even said that they should go first in the nation because of their size and, thus, political significance. Since Californians are the ones complaining the most about the Iowa Caucuses, the majority of this column will address their complaints about them.

One of the major complaints from politically minded Californians is that Iowa doesn’t represent the racial diversity of the nation. To them, Iowa is predominantly white, culturally homogeneous, and out of touch with the rest of the country. That’s as may be, but those same descriptors could be used to talk about another part of the country, one that’s equally white, homogeneous, and out of touch.

That’s right. I’m talking about Beverly Hills.

Furthermore, since when is a state’s caucus or primary required to reflect the racial and cultural diversity of the country? Race and culture play some role, but the larger role will be played by political ideology. For example, right around Berkeley, I’m pretty sure there’s a greater than average concentration of white kids who think socialism is the best socio-economic system out there (so long as Mommy and Daddy keep sending the tuition checks). Applying California’s exclusionary mindset in this case, the entire city of Berkeley, California, could be discounted from the California primaries because it doesn’t reflect the ideological leanings of this country. Then again, I’m thinking the California Republican Party wouldn’t have any complaints about that.

Another common complaint is that it’s not fair that a small state like Iowa has so much power over the process because many campaigns shut down if they don’t fare well in Iowa. The argument here is that Californians go so late in the primary season that they don’t get the same choices Iowans get, so in order to be fair in their minds, they should go first so Californians would have a wider field from which to choose. With this election, though, I’m thinking it’s like choosing between a dog poop sandwich and a bear poop sandwich.

The main argument against this notion is campaign cash. Say Hillary Clinton wants to run a 30-second television spot in Sacramento, the capitol of California. It’s going to cost more to run the ad in Sacramento than it will in Des Moines, the capitol of Iowa, because Sacramento is so much bigger. Same thing with radio and print ads and mass mailings. In short, if California were to go first, it would cost campaigns more to accomplish the necessary tasks to run for President. Some smaller, lesser-funded campaigns would either skip California altogether or fold up shop because they couldn’t spend the money to be competitive, which means…Californians would pretty much get the same choices than if those candidates dropped out after the Iowa Caucuses.

The other knock against this argument is political. You have to wonder if the Californians complaining about the potential field of candidates being whittled down after the Iowa Caucuses support second and third tier candidates. If you do, God bless ya. If not, you’re a flaming hypocrite (or you will be if you spontaneously combust). Supporting the candidacy of someone like Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel to participate in California’s primaries without giving them your financial or volunteer support is like a doctor saying he can remove the tumor from your brain, but he’ll have to cut off both legs to do it. But as Governor Schwarzenegger might opine in this case, "It is naht a toomah!" (One hundred Bottom Line points if you got that joke. Two hundred if you got that joke and are ashamed to admit it.)

Personally, I think the main reason some Californians have a problem with the Iowa Caucuses being first in the nation is because of ego. Some online commentators have said Iowa should "get over themselves" and let someone else go first for a change. The problem with that view is that Iowans by nature aren’t egotistical. We get the job done without a lot of fanfare and then move on to the next job. Granted, not all of California is the Bizarro version of Iowa, but when you consider that the entertainment industry, an industry notorious for having so many ego trips it gets frequent flyer miles, is based in California…let’s just say that Californians should be the last ones to tell Iowans to "get over themselves."

Simply put, the bulk of the arguments some Californians have made against the Iowa Caucuses being first in the nation are bogus. Granted, it’s only a minority of Californians who are making the waves in the first place. Most of the rest of them are just surfing on them. So, for now, let’s just leave the Iowa Caucuses as first in the nation. It’s not going to hurt anything if we do. Besides, after California gave the nation Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein, I think they owe us big time.

Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of

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