In a few hours Iowans will begin the rather confusing process of caucusing which is not a primary but sort of has the same result. This is a once-every-four-years tradition and the position of
as the first state to cast votes for the Presidential nomination is jealously
guarded, just as New Hampshire
guards their status as the first in the nation primary. I have been trying
really hard to stay away from politics but it is a constant siren call to me,
having an academic background in political science and coming from a
hyper-aware political family. What makes this Monday so compelling is that it
offers the possibility of some very strange results. There is a chance, a far
more realistic one than I would have believed six months ago, that socialist
Senator Bernie Sanders and....and....well whatever you call Donald Trump will
win the day for their respective parties. This prospect terrifies both parties.
What both parties are either stubbornly ignorant of or willfully disregarding of is the reason that two people well outside of the established boundaries of either party are poised to upset the political apple cart like nothing we have seen for a very long time. In my sage opinion what we are seeing is a slow dawning of understanding among the American people that we are on the precipice of some calamitous. Whether it is the looming juggernaut of the national debt, the transition from well paying middle class jobs to low income service industry jobs, the threat (real or imagined) from ISIS and sharia law coming to America, whatever, Americans are scared and on the edge of something quite dangerous. I think the Sanders candidacy is pretty easy to understand. Hillary Clinton is one of the least likable people on the public stage. Ever. Many people loathe her and even among her tepid supporters her candidacy is based on having a uterus (It is time for a woman president, even if she is a criminal and pathological liar!). So sure, Democrats are looking for someone who at least believes what they say, even if those beliefs will be poison in the election. There is an element of impatience with the fulfilling of the liberal agenda, which President Obama in spite of his pen has been unable to move as much as they want thanks to a Republican congress and that little thing known as the Constitution, but I think most of it is a weariness of being lied to and the prospect of having a champion liar as their nominee in the general election.
On the Republican side it is a little more complex. While Sanders generally holds positions that the Democrat base holds, only a little more extreme, Donald Trump doesn't really seem interested in the traditional Republican ideals. He is not a Republican in any meaningful sense of the term and he is far from a conservative and what is more he doesn't seem to care. What compounds this is that there are lots of actual Republicans and conservatives from Rand Paul and Ted Cruz to more establishment types like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush to choose from. In spite of a highly competitive and broad field, someone who has been completely absent from the conservative movement is all of a sudden poised to win the Iowa caucuses, garnering support from working class voters, evangelicals, disenchanted conservative, all across the board. What appeal would someone who is an admitted serial adulterer, divorcing and remarrying when he gets bored, someone who is clearly not a fellow believer, have for evangelical voters? What do they think they are going to get from him? The real secret to the Donald Trump candidacy is that people are not voting for him so much as they are using their support to make a point to the Republican leadership.
The point is that we don't trust the Republican party. Donald Trump is nothing more than a stick in the eye of the GOP powers that have been telling middle class conservatives, especially evangelicals, for decades that they need to dutifully rally around whoever they are told to rally around and this time it will be different! Every election cycle it is the same thing. Politicians pander to the Republican base, again especially to evangelical voters and working class social conservatives. What is increasingly apparent is that the powers that be in the GOP don't much care for the very people that they absolutely rely on to win elections. Let's be real, there are only so many wealthy people to go around and a lot of them vote for liberals so any Republican who wants to win an election needs people who have, for most of my lifetime, been voting for people who do nothing that they promised to do. In spite of that necessity the GOP has for years convinced the rank and file to march to the polls, contribute time and money and feed our children into the endless appetite for soldiers to fight in various wars that accomplish nothing but the enriching of a small circles of powerful people. So long as the military-industrial complex is fed a never ending river of taxpayer money, bodies in caskets and limbs of our young people there will never be a need or desire by those who start the wars to stop starting them.
Tonight should be interesting, most especially because it is almost certain that the national leadership of both parties is going to completely misconstrue the results. Unless Marco Rubio pulls an upset, the number 1 and number 2 placers for the GOP are going to be the candidates the national party hates. Change is a'brewin' and it is going to be interesting.