An Op-ed by L. Renee' Chubb
WTF happened last night? As the political universe descended on the state of Iowa, we waited for the results to come out around 8:45 pm east coast time. And we waited...and we waited...and did I tell you we're still waiting?
As has been done since the early 80's, The current 1.3 million eligible/registered voters in Iowa, sat back on their "apps", waiting for the rest of America to bend the knee. Not even the scam of a trial on the capital hill could take away Twitter and media fury.
The Iowa caucuses are arcane, steeped in matriarchial practices, extremely complicated and as you can see...a hot mess. These caucuses are way more time-intensive than a primary or general election, and we are not the same country, demographically, as we were in 1976 when Jimmy Carter essentially carried the entire state and set things in motion for what we see happening in Iowa, to this day. More about that below.
That's why a people-powered voting system that starts there, a state that's 91% white, the second in New Hampshire (February 11th) the nation's first primary, at 93.9% white, is a slap in the face to every other red-blooded American, of a different race.
If you aren't familiar with how any of this works let me break it down for you, so you understand better why we need to simply start with Super Tuesday. Each "Trumped Tuesday", I'll be breaking down a major political issue to bring more people to the conversation. Nobody wants to talk about things they can't comprehend or seem too complicated to debate. That changes now, and here at W.O.K.E. Author Zone. Join in by leaving your comments below the article. If you are a writer, link to your political pieces as well. Let's get to it.
WTF is a caucus?
Let's start with the dictionary definition. [Source: Mirriam Webster].
cau·cus | \ ˈkȯ-kəs \
Definition of caucus
(Entry 1 of 2): a closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction usually to select candidates or to decide on policy a presidential caucus also: a group of people united to promote an agreed-upon cause.
Although not clear on the history, the word caucus is from Algonquin origin, which is Native American, meaning "meeting of tribal leaders." Christopher Columbus was way busier than we ever thought. Meh. Colonizers gotta colonize. As if NO English word would accurately describe the whitest process in politics. I don't even know what to make of this, truly. Any-who.
Last night starting at around 7:00 pm EST, Iowa caucus-goers filed into one of the 1,678 designated precincts all over the state. Iowa is one of the states that employ people to determine who the next presidential nominee should be instead of actually cast ballots. Both Republicans and Democrats will gather together at their individual locations for the 'festivities'.
During the caucus, people are aggressively trying to convince others to come to their side/candidate. Because of the high emotions involved, the process can get pretty chaotic. Think of the Amazing Race on steroids, but in one location. Within these groups, people will discuss and determine the best candidate for the entire party. Speeches and discussions are often a big part of caucus night as well. It's the final chance to convince someone that your candidate is the right choice. It's the ultimate battle of wills, wits, and policy.
What is the purpose of a caucus?
This entire process takes hours of negotiation. If a candidate does not obtain a minimum of 15% of the entire room supporting her or him, then they must move on to their second candidate of choice, or be persuaded to join another viable candidate. Democrats will move to the spaces around the room where their candidate's signs and groups are as a show of public support. This typically occurs after all the speeches are complete.
For Republicans, true to form, they vote in secret after the speeches are concluded, with no public headcounts. We should have seen this coming. Republicans have shown us who and what they truly are all along, and make no qualms about it. We chose and continue to ignore it.
Here's the bottom line. People gather, they debate the candidates, they choose, then wah-lah! A presidential nominee is "born".
Let me be clear. Iowa by itself does not alone determine who the candidate for each party will eventually be, it's merely used as a representation for what the rest of America thinks. Let that sink in. A 91% white population speaks and represents the rest of the nation during each and every election. As long as Iowa and yes, even New Hampshire's primaries are first, their outcomes will always be glorified as the original, earnest viability of a candidate, for POTUS.
Why does Iowa go first?
Back in 1972, the Democratic National Convention made the decision to move Iowa's caucus to the beginning of February, in order to accommodate their long, complex primary process with multiple conventions. It wasn't until 1976 when Jimmy Carter used the Iowa caucus to launch his campaign nationally, that it would take on a life of its own. That year, the Republicans would adopt similar amendments for the party, going to be the first to hold caucuses in Iowa.
Therefore, Iowa perpetually decides, before the rest of the country. What happens there can trickle down into the rest of the states' decisions. Especially this year, when taking back everything is of the utmost importance.
There are basically "3 tickets" along with 41 delegates and 8 unpledged superdelegates, waiting to be snatched up in Iowa's caucuses.
To win the party nomination, a candidate must secure a total of 1,991 delegates. Iowa alone gives a candidate an opportunity to walk away with 41. It's extremely complicated to determine the number of delegates each state gets, which doesn't even have to be if we get rid of it altogether. Although the image is for the 2016 election, the process is still the same, but how voting happens is not.
Source: Democratic Party’s official delegate selection materials
Republicans, on the other hand, keep it simple. They look at who voted Republican in the past presidential election, along with other voting patterns across party affiliation. Let's talk about what changed this year to cause such a disaster last night.
What changed in 2020?
This morning the NY Times is reporting that we have Senator Bernie Sanders to thank for the disaster that happened last night with the new voting app. It was an embarrassment to the establishment and an even bigger case to abolish this assinine process. As of this evening, only 62% of the results are tabulated.
We're in for a LONG and tiring general election, folks. Let me tell you. I'm not going to waste my energy on Bernie and his fuck ups. He's a disaster, and frankly, he's not a Democrat, he's not worth my breath. If you want to know how he screwed himself out of a possible victory lap...again, read the article. He gets no coverage here.
The bottom line is this. The party clarified in a statement a little after 10:30 p.m. CT on Monday that the delay was due to "inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of outcomes, not due to any "hack or intrusion" into the app itself.
On Tuesday morning, the IDP said they
"Determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound. While the app was recording data accurately, it was reported out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed."
The DCC added that while,
"Our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continue to be upheld."
It's going to be a minute before we know who "won". Personally, the process is suspect at this point. Will EVERY vote count to reflect our efforts and pounding of the pavement? Hell yeah, I said it. Prove me wrong...I got time.
The Iowa caucuses are a moot point. It's a fanfare for "those" folks to hold on to the establishment. Frankly, it's a bunch of bullshit. I don't have the patience for it. Neither do my people.
What is Super Tuesday?
Mark your calendar for March 3, 2020. Never forget this date again. It's the date that should TRULY matter. It's the second most important Tuesday in American politics. The first? The general election is always held on a Tuesday.
On Super Tuesday however, this is when the rest of America, behind Iowa, does their own primaries and caucuses to determine who they would like to like to have on the presidential ballot.
Super Tuesday hasn't been around that long. Although the extremely big deal it is, you would have expected it to have been around as long as the primaries themselves.
"Super Tuesday was basically designed to nationalize the message, to try to decrease the impact of the so-called 'Iowa syndrome," Virginia senator Chuck Robb stated to Robert MacNeil in an interview on "NewsHour" after the first Super Tuesday back in 1988 [source: PBS]
Are you still with me? It's a lot to digest, I know. But the more informed you are, the better decisions you can make. Black women are going to vote pragmatically. Follow their lead.
Iowa nor New Hampshire has leaned into the 21st century like the rest of the country. The truth of the matter is that marginalized communities are once again left out of the conversation. What message does this send to us year after year?
I hold tremendous regard for the constituents of Iowa and all of the volunteers paid staff, and others, who have been planning, organizing and working extremely hard there leading up to last night's disaster. I do not wish to criticize any (real) Democratic candidate, Tom Perez on the other hand, needs to have his ass sat ALL the way down. I'm tired of him and his foolishness.
Nevertheless, the next time Democrats hold another election—four or eight years still remains to be seen—the party and the nation would be better served if the DCCC's critical first spotlights take place someplace more diverse than New Hampshire or Iowa, and requires no caucus in any shaper or form.
The Democratic Party literally owes us. The working-class, the disabled, the adolescent parents, the elderly, our active and retired military, BIPOC, women, ALL marginalized communities and any other associations and classes of people, currently stifled by a caucus, a more reliable, representative arrangement.
In a democracy, access to voting is essential. I don't have to tell you that. We already have voter suppression, gerrymandering and walking Jim Crow laws that disenfranchise us enough. This is not helping.
I'm calling on the Democratic party and everyone that cares about the future of our nation, to get rid of the caucus by the next election, shift the primaries, and transform to a rule that acknowledges diverse voices and encourages them to be understood, most importantly heard.
I hope you understand caucuses, Iowa, Super Tuesday and what happens and did happen last night, in Iowa, a little bit better now.
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Check out @JennyCohn on Twitter for an amazing analysis of our voting machines and the need for hand-marked paper ballots. Join me next Tuesday for more important political coverage. I'll be breaking down the issues, topics, and terminology so we can understand why some of these archaic processes need to go and even why they exist. Until then Stay W.O.K.E.!