Why Winning a Caucus in Iowa is a Loss Nationally

Iowa 2012: Crazy is as crazy does

You see this statement a lot on the conservative blogosphere, forms and comments, that the Democratic Party won’t let anyone challenge Obama, even though a December CNN poll found that overall 81% of those surveyed thought that the Democratic Party should nominate Obama again. The truth is, this time around at least, there is no viable candidate other than Obama. And those not entirely satisfied with Obama can take heart that by the time his second term is over, Elizabeth Warren will be there.

What all these arm-chair pundits ignore is that their own party has NO viable candidates. Not one. They’re all extremist lunatics who stand condemned by their own rhetoric. And deep down, though they may misrepresent or misunderstand the reasons, they seem to know it. They are always looking for the next “hero” to enter the race, from Perry (who did) to Christie (who didn’t) and for some of them, Sarah Palin, who still hasn’t and probably won’t because she’d have less time to coiffe. They are on a never-ending search for The One who can defeat Obama. But there is nobody who can do that.

Sure, the Christian extremists love Iowa. But the extremism of 2012 is not the extremism of 2010. The Tea Partiers adopted the cry of “taking the country back” and fiscal conservatism and deregulation figured heavily in their narrative. But in 2012, fiscal conservatism and deregulation, while still important buzz-words, have taken a back seat to Christian conservatism and the Tea Party itself has become closely identified with these religious extremists.

The obvious problem for the GOP is that while this may sell to their base, it horrifies liberal and progressives and turns independents off. It even turns off their more moderate elements, few as those are. There is a reason younger people are leaving the conservative religious fold. Even the fiscal conservatism has turned off some Republicans in Congress; what makes anyone think religious conservatism is going to sell?

Pundits have argued that Obama’s blatant partisanship in his ongoing war with Congressional Republicans will turn off independents but it’s difficult to imagine it being a bigger turn off than the specter of theocracy. That’s something the MSM doesn’t like to muse about.  They want America to see viable mainstream candidates instead. Their corporate attention is focused on exploring the “manifest failings” of our first black President and ways in which he might leave himself open to defeat.

It may seem strange to be hearing that the Republican Party in 2012, after winning many upsets in 2010 is not a viable major political party, but by embracing extremism, that is exactly what the Republican Party has accomplished. It has become a party where lunacy sells and the greater the lunacy the greater the sales. Just look at a few quick examples:

Ron Paul is excited about having the support of a pastor who wants to execute homosexuals and Rick Perry wants to predator-drone the Mexican border. Ron Paul says people who are sexually harassed at work should quit and has now gone even further, saying sexual harassment shouldn’t be illegal in the first place (think of how much effect that would have had on Cain’s campaign) as well as claiming that AIDS victims brought it on themselves. Mitt Romney has shown he has no position he is not willing to reverse (and Republicans have noticed, calling him a “liberal leopard”). And we all remember Herman Cain’s alligator-filled moat, Great Wall and electrified fence (he probably wishes he had thought of the predator drones). Gingrich wants to be president but says he doesn’t do foreign policy (he hardly seems alone in this), says he will arrest federal judges who disagree with him, plans to wage war on everyone who isn’t a conservative Christian, and wants to put poor children to work cleaning for their betters. Michele Bachmann’s extreme positions are too well known to need repeating here (a quick run-down) and I won’t even get into the conspiracy theories that actually threaten our entire species.

That Republicans love this stuff is no surprise (probably Freud would too). But this isn’t the kind of stuff that sells people who have all their marbles. There has never in American history been such a collection of kooky, extremist positions in politics – at least not since the Puritans arrived in the New World. That was a truly disturbing bunch but the GOP of today is giving them a run for their money.

It will be interesting to watch this campaign, which since its inception has been about catering to religious extremists, morph into something more broad-based, if that’s even possible. The dimensions of the tent were preset and after spending years excluding everybody but White Evangelicals it’s difficult to imagine successfully attracting anyone else. Look at Rick Perry’s The Response, and how it catered to the dominionists of the New Apostolic Reformation; they weren’t shy about letting America know that their religion and their politics were only for those who followed Jesus in a very specific way (one most Christians would find truly bizarre, which is why most Christians won’t find out if the MSM can help it).

So Republicans have excluded all but extremist Christians. They can already count out the black vote and the Latino vote – and it goes without saying, the gay vote (Gingrich has essentially told gays to not vote for him). Republicans seem to believe their “Israel First” platform guarantees Jewish support but Jewish Americans realize they are Americans – not Israelis – first, and continue to support Obama, who got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008.

Here is what Republicans don’t understand about democracy: A viable candidate must be able to appeal to more than his or her base. While poll numbers can go up and down, sometimes drastically in a short period of time (as when Obama’s numbers surged 12 points in less than two weeks at the end of December), it is difficult to imagine the ideologically hide-bound Republicans somehow finding a way to appeal to all the various demographics they have spent the past three years offending.

The GOP seems literally to be aiming for Santorum’s fabled “constituency of one.” They have been trapped by their own narrative. If they are the only “real” Americans, who else will vote for them,? And what effect will an extremely distorted Iowa Caucus have on the GOP field? It is certain that the most extreme will win, but the most extreme will be the candidate with the least broad appeal nationally.

So as Tuesday approaches, liberals may rightly discount the Iowa Caucus but Republicans seem to place great store in it, even though the results are skewed. As Gail Collins wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “On Tuesday, there will be a contest to select the preferred candidate of a small group of people who are older, wealthier and whiter than American voters in general, and more politically extreme than the average Iowa Republican.” A strategy centered on catering to such a narrow demographic seems odd from the outside looking in but Republicans could hardly do otherwise at this point. While it seems shocking to say candidates who don’t finish in the top three under such conditions “may be forced to re-evaluate their campaigns,” perhaps we should be happy for the winnowing. At least some of them might shut up.

But let’s face the facts: a party that supports the interests of the 1% while discounting the 99% generally, or only about 25 percent religiously, is setting itself up for trouble even without the extremist religious rhetoric. If the Republicans want a viable candidate, they will have to find somebody who avoids both those pitfalls. The only problem with such a candidate is that no Republican would vote for him. Look at the fate of Jon Huntsman, who by no means liberal, was far too pragmatic for the politico-religious fanatics who make up the base.  In the end, though the Democrats may have nobody but Obama, the Republicans have nobody at all. And that’s no less than they deserve.

Photo from The Guardian

19 Replies to “Why Winning a Caucus in Iowa is a Loss Nationally”

  1. It has been the height of folly in the primary process to let Iowa choose for Illinois, Vermont for New York, South Carolina for Florida, and whatever podunk Western state it is for California. We need a same- day national primary, but if not that, at least, for God’s sake, let some real states do the picking. I wouldn’t trust these podunks to pick our noses, let alone our President.

  2. Too bad no one ever told the moron who wrote this we are not a democracy but a Republic. Guess that is liberal education for you.

  3. We are what is called a modern liberal democracy, the standard form of government in the Western world in the 21st century, which has, a sub-type, constitutional republics, like the United States. But thanks for stopping by and sharing your ignorance.

    (As a hint, democracy means political authority is vested in the people, as in “We the People”)

  4. Wonderful posting Hraf. Its true that these caucus’s are made u of the extremists(from both partys caucus’s} and represent a minority.

    These candidates are horrifyingly extremists. Will the republicans vote for anyone of them just to vote republican? Does “make Obama a one term president” mean vote in someone who can beat him but will never be a good president? Because none of the gop candidates could ever be a good president.

    Do we notice anything funny here? We don’t see people coming here to defend any of the candidates except for Ron Paul. How can any of these candidates be defended? When Ron Paul says no sexual harassment laws, we see loons run in here and state there’s nothing wrong with harassment or the harassed should just leave. Proving that you have to be brain dead to follow any of them.

    These caucus’s are basically a comedic routine

  5. A republic is a res publica, a thing of the public, and is a representative democracy, where all members of its public are represented. When only a few members of the public are represented, to the detriment of the others, it is called an oligarchy, not a republic. And now, Miss Vicky, frankly: for what form of government are you advocating?

  6. …”There has never in American history been such a collection of kooky, extremist positions in politics – at least not since the Puritans arrived in the New World. That was a truly disturbing bunch but the GOP of today is giving them a run for their money….

    Exactly! We are plagued by the psychosis of the original generation of extremely, religious dysfunctional people. Why, for example, is there such hypocrisy surrounding American attitudes towards sex(Hugh Hefner was raised by a stick Puritanical father)? And, how does America, so advanced in science and technology embrace Creationism? How can Americans perpetuate their religious interpretations of the bible that is obviously riddled with selfishness and greed? And how can they have the gall to “democratically” elected leaders of this nation will stating that there is somebody up there who appointed him president (Bryan Fisher’s diatribe, plus, all the candidates who claim god told them to run)??

    Puritanism, our original “sin”, is wrapped up in a schizoid condition that continues to permeated American culture generation after generation as THE traditional default system. It is to the point where this multi-generational psychosis remains embedded within the mindset of extreme fundamentalist; we can no longer afford to placate their worldview and survive into the future.

    If this Puritan core belief system, enshrined with in our national psyche (better yet enmeshed) remains as an absolute, sedition and treason will follow suit…and, if the GOP forces their way into office, sedition and treason will be used against the democratic man, not theocracy…

  7. Anyone heard of JIll Stien for president? I didnt hear this author mention anything about her…? just curious. BTW do you think americans actually get to pick the president? The electoral college stinks… and they vote for their party, regardless of the person – that stinks – and who says we HAVE to vote for a Democrat if we are the 99% – how about we use our brains and analysis to determine which candidate is going to make the best changes for america, not just who’s our buddy and shares the same religion/fraternity/stocks/and 1% endorsement…??? I’m just curious why WE as people cannot change our mentality that we have to vote democratic or republican… we do not, and we do not have to vote for the only democrat that is running just because we are a democrat or a registered democrat.

  8. Wonderful posting. I still don’t get the media fawning over Iowa, especially when put into the context in Gail Collins’ article. But hey, it’s January, cold outside and the media needs something to get excited about.

    My favorite part – “But this isn’t the kind of stuff that sells people who have all their marbles”

  9. Really? So we’re not a democratic republic where we vote for people to represent us in government?

    Hmmm, sounds like somebody was asleep during civics class. Don’t worry Victoria- we’ll make sure there’s plenty of help for morons like you. I can see how you’d be confused. The GOP acts like this isn’t a democratic republic. They really hate dissent or anybody with an opposing viewpoint, as do you apparently.

  10. I watch Fox News, MSNBC and listen to Fox radio..I don’t understand how people can fall for the pure hate these candidates are spewing and how anyone could take *any* of the “news” channels seriously. If you like the GOP, it’s Fox news, Dems go to MSNBC..

    I couldn’t agree more this article and most of the articles on this site. It’s been my refuge from the hate and bigotry spewed from these so called Christians and “news” channels.

  11. Simple. While I may not agree with many (read: most) of Ron Paul’s suggestions and ideas, they actually hold some basis of logic and reality. He doesn’t want no sexual harassment laws. He just doesn’t want them to be federally enforced, leaving the matters to state governments and policemen to determine what it means to be sexually harassed.

    I disagree with that because I would be surprised if women could get fair treatment in even half of our states under a non-federally enforced standard. But he does make some sense. Sexual harassment is not adequately defined and too easy to abuse.

    That’s the difference between Ron Paul and every other republican candidate this time around. He thinks about his positions. No matter how outdated, no matter how detrimental, he actually has some ways to defend his position. The rest of them just spew one nonsensical statement after another that leaves me flabbergasted.

    No, Ron Paul would never get my vote. But he’s way above the rest of the options for the republicans.

  12. They are not federally enforced. They are federal laws supported and enforced by the states.

    Ron Paul is a corporate shill just like the rest of them. Only he is far more open about wanting to give the states away to the corporations and the fundies.

    I do agreee with him on the Fed, but lets face it, when the rich take over they will dump the fed anyways.

  13. I hate all of the networks and abandoned them years ago for the internet, which imo, is a more fact-based resource. I view TV news reporting as being more akin to “entertainment TV.”

  14. Oye…my typos.

    1. Hefner was raised by a “strict” father of the Puritan persuasion (perhaps he was a “stick” in the mud, as Hugh certainly wasn’t)
    2. “And, how can they have the gall…while, not will, stating that there is somebody up there…

    The “post a reply” needs an “edit because I/we/us type/comment too fast” button.

  15. Right. Tell rush that democracy is a form of govt. Republicanism is not a form of govt. It it were, it would be called what it is: fascism.

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