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My New Best Friend
February 1st, 2016
As I watch the puffy white clouds of Iowans line up to caucus today, I contemplate once again the absurdity of our presidential election process. I wonder how we could possibly, one day, wrestle away the power that Iowa inexplicably yields every four years, as well as New Hampshire. Why do we do it like this again? I'm sure there is some quaint, hundred year old explanation that the election geeks and those states chambers of commerce cling to like gospel, but how could it possibly be relevant or make any sense in the 21st century? Why not just have the Hamptons make the first pick, or maybe Malibu? On the other end of the spectrum, why not El Paso or even Flint?
My point is that no one geographic area could reasonably represent the diversity of America as a whole, and the fact that we chose Iowa to have the first say in our elections says a lot about who we seem to wish we are instead of the reality some wish to ignore or even deny. I'm sorry, but Iowa has no business laying any kind of claim to our religious and racial makeup, or our collective values. There is a reason why we fly over Iowa, and drive through it as fast as we can. The words "visually stunning" and "boatloads of fun" do not even remotely apply to Iowa. Sure, the people are nice and the crime rate is low, but let's be honest... the only reason anyone ever cares about Iowa is because they are first in line to get to the presidency.
So, if not Iowa, or New Hampshire, Which state should be first to vote? The obvious ones are New York and California, which would of course lead to the good folks of Iowa to make the same claims of bias that I have just made against them. The heartland has no love for the true melting pots of America. They have not left Iowa for a reason.
How about Illinois? They have both; a huge, diverse metropolitan area in the north, and endless boring cornfields in the south. Or maybe Florida or Texas, both large, heavily populated states with a mix of urban and rural communities.
Or, even better, why not all of the states at the same time? What a novel idea! Who would think of such a radical idea? I say this tongue and cheek, because as a resident of Oregon, my primary vote every four years means absolutely nothing. By the time they get around to us, the candidates have inevitably locked up their nominations, or our paltry few delegates have been deemed unworthy of contention. So the state of Iowa cleans up tens of millions of dollars in advertising and travel related revenue and we get bupkis. Call me Portland weird, but I would kind of like my vote to count. I know I live in a blue state, but in the primaries, my vote actually could make a difference. And this would force all of the candidates to pander to everyone in the U.S., not just evangelicals in Iowa and the mooseheads in New Hampshire.