So Barrack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, a pretty shocking thing to a lot of people since Iowa has but a 2% black population and Obama is a black man. Is America growing up? Hope so. Not that the Iowa caucuses mean much. Only about 10% of the population usually participates and it’s not really a primary with straight up voting for one candidate or the other. There’s 1,784 voting precincts in Iowa and in each one a meeting is held for a couple of hours to elect 99 county delegates to the state conventions. Those 99 delegates representing Iowa’s 99 counties then select delegates to Congressional District Conventions and State Conventions and the State Convention eventually picks the presidential candidate for each political party. Or something like that, it’s pretty unique. Confusing, too.
There are no voting machines, and campaigning goes on for a while in these meeting rooms from representatives of the different candidates who try to convince their neighbors to vote for their man or woman. The Republicans do their candidate selling and then hand out blank slips of paper on which the attendees write a candidate’s name. The Democrats dispense with secret ballots and after their campaign speeches move people around the room to designated areas called “Preference Groups” until one candidate winds up with the most people in his little group and is called a “viable candidate.”
You with me so far? I know I’m getting lost myself here trying to figure it out. The Democratic Party method sounds like a cross between Charades and Musical Chairs, two parlor games presumably popular in Iowa where some of the caucuses are actually held in people’s parlors. It’s probably a nice way to elect a dogcatcher or local sheriff but a pretty bizarre forum for national politics, and a fairly elitist one too with that 10% turnout. The thing is held for a couple of hours in the evening as opposed to actual primaries and elections where polling places are opened from early morning until around nine at night, ensuring that people with just about any sort of schedule can vote. And then there’s lots of people who don’t want to spend two hours of their lives casting what is essentially a non-binding vote when they could be voting for some young wannabe on American Idol.
But this year something different is going on in America if Iowa is any indication, even if it’s only the first of a long run of primaries leading up to the actual National Convention of each party. This year in Iowa 34.4% of the electorate turned out, much more than usual for such a strange affair as their caucuses. People are paying attention and more importantly, at least on the Democratic side of politics, they are picking a new voice, turning their backs on the perennial contenders and their same-old, same-old Grand Visions and cockamamie schemes. In spite of the political machines’ best efforts to alienate us all from the Madison Avenue sales campaigns that picking our presidents has become, people are paying attention.
I suppose we have George W. Bush to thank for that. He’s a prime example of the kind of president you get when we’re not paying attention and vote for slogans and ad campaigns. Well, that particular brand of corn flakes sure didn’t live up to it’s hype so now people are finally realizing that it’s kind of important to have a smart guy as president. Bush is shaping up as one of our worst presidents and that’s saying something with some of the inept clowns who have sat in the big chair in the Oval Office. There’s been no shortage of those and I suppose Bush figures he’s got no shot at all at adequacy, never mind greatness, so he figures he’s definitely got the stuff to go for the record of Worst President Ever. Hey, having his TV show voted the worst ever made Jerry Springer a household name, so what the hell, why not go for it and really make a mockery of the office and leave America in a shambles? I guess that’s one way to go down in history.
If Barack Obama goes the distance in the long and unpredictable presidential campaign he’ll make history before he’s even sworn in, what with him being the first black man to become president of this nation that used to enslave black people. But that’s not why I support his candidacy. I like the guy because he represents change and America needs to get back on track in our never-ending quest to become America. Barack Obama wants to change the way of doing political business in the United States. I say we help him do it by voting out every single Congressman and whichever Senators are up for reelection in 2008. Those tired, spineless and greedy hacks are just as much to blame for our political inertia as Bush the Younger and his cynical elitist puppet masters.
That would really shake things up in Washington, no doubt about it. The Congress has enjoyed a 90-something percent rate of reelecting incumbents. By no stretch of anyone’s imagination are nine out of ten of these people doing a good job. The results of this rubber-stamping of their tenures has been entrenched power for small minded fools who regard elections as an annoying interruption to their treasury-looting, Bill of Rights-shredding, war-profiteering, bribe-taking and vote-swapping ways. Sure there’s some good ones in there but not good enough to have made a difference in the way our government operates.
The good ones haven’t raised any sort of stink about the whole corrupt enterprise. Their voices were simply not compelling enough, the examples they set apparently impressing nobody. The earnest business of running the government for the benefit of corporate interests and entrenched governmental powercrats goes on unabated and we’re stuck with ruinous wars of aggression, the erosion of the quality of life for average citizens, attacks on our very freedom we can no longer take for granted in the Land of the Free and an us versus them political mentality that benefits no one but the entrenched establishment.
But that can change with a single election. Turn the whole government out on its ears and install a new one, no revolution necessary, using only the system already in place. Simply vote for whoever is opposing any incumbent Congressperson in the primaries to deny them even the chance to run in the general election. That bold act will put the entire government on notice that America is sick of their representative government no longer representing their interests. Naturally some members of the new Congress will be lousy but they’ll have a harder time being louses with a vigilant and angry electorate on their case. Barack Obama wants change? Let’s take him at his word and give him some real change, a Congress that is not bought and paid for by corporate lobbies or political machines.
But where will be the experienced hands in government, you say? Well, they’ll be experiencing the shock of being on the outside looking in for one thing, wondering how their sweet racket slipped out of their grasping lunch hooks. All their so-called expertise and experience is what got us into this mess in the first place and hasn’t done a damned thing for their constituency. Let them to sit back and watch others run the governing for a change, people who are on notice that the voters are taking names and kicking ass. And let Obama be one of those people on notice, let him not take his power for granted for a single day.
The thing is, the American people have to stay interested in America and what it’s supposed to mean to them, how it’s supposed to operate and how it deals with the rest of the world. It’s one thing to be an annoying son of a bitch telling everybody you’re number one, quite another to quietly go about the business of being number one. Walking the walk is always a lot harder than talking the talk. Mindless repetition of slogans impresses no one but fools. Unfortunately, our current crop of entrenched politicians have built their careers counting on the American people’s foolishness and to our embarrassment it has worked splendidly. We’ve latched onto those slogans like a kid to an ice cream pop and now we find that the ice cream doesn’t taste so sweet when you lick off the outer coating and we’re all sucking on a crapsicle.
It’s time we spit that crap out and fire the salesmen who foisted it off on us. Let them apply for unemployment insurance when they find out the lobbyists already have plenty of shady insiders on their payrolls. And if we keep breathing down the necks of our elected representatives just maybe the lobbyists won’t find all that many takers for their bribes. We can also vote against our rapacious corporations by shopping elsewhere. Nobody should be able to force the American people to buy their shoddy goods, businessmen or politicians. Let’s elect Barack Obama president and give him and ourselves the gift of a brand new Congress to try and turn this car around and get back on the road to becoming America again.