A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Iowa is like a reef, and ships just keep crashing into it.

Wow, looking at the preliminary results from the Republican caucuses tonight, and I gotta say: Really?

Santorum and Romney in a virtual tie, with Ron Paul chasing third.

I have to admit that the voters in Iowa are just completely incomprehensible to me. Well, no that's not true. I mean, have you ever been to a caucus?

I have.

There you are shut up with a bunch of strangers for hours. The set-up is meant to draw only the most dedicated (or the morbidly curious-- it WAS kind of like watching an overripe pumpkin get hit by an aluminum bat in sheer messiness), which of course, skews the reliability of the results.

And then there's the demographics of Iowa itself, courtesy of the US Census Bureau. It's got a little less than one percent of the US population, and its population has grown at less than half the rate of the country as a whole over the last decade. It's 91% white. Just under 3% of its population is African American, and 1.7% of its population is Asian. Its Hispanic population in 5%. Less than 4% of its population is foreign born. Its percentage of people who report speaking a language other than English in the home is one-third that of the United States as a whole. Its high school graduation rate is slightly higher than the national average (good for y'all!) but its percentage of those holding a bachelor's degree is slightly lower (aww).

I am sure it's a lovely state. But it certainly is not representative of the US as a whole. Is that why the national parties cater to it by allowing it to seize the hopes and dreams of politicians every four years far out of proportion to its actual relevance as a testing ground? I mean, this place is so bland it makes mayonnaise look like a spice.

And now, we see Rick Santorum tied with Mitt Romney (speaking of mayonnaise) as the preferred candidates out of the field, although by what appears to be the lowest percentages and the lowest turnout in quite some time, even by Iowa standards. And then libertarian Ron Paul, the guy who redefines the phrase "rope-a-dope" in my mind, follows the Yin and Yang Brothers.

I am... bemused? concerned? confused? by not only the field of candidates the Republicans have managed to cobble together, sure, but also by this refusal to consider anyone with any interest (not talking experience, but just interest, here) in foreign policy while we've got some pretty serious stuff going on in the world. Now of course the economy is a vital concern, and it should be. But I don't see Santorum or Paul having a dog in that hunt either. Santorum's thinly veiled social and racial warfare just has to be on the verge of collapse. Ron Paul's naked gospel of anti-social selfishness and self-centeredness makes the 1970s seem like a Salvation Army campaign. And Romney, poor Romney, if only we didn't feel like this guy will say or believe anything (and therefore nothing) in order to get elected (Sound familiar? You could say this about Barack Obama, the winner of the 2008 Iowa Democratic caucuses, with some credence, as well). So I have a question directed to Iowa:


Thank you. That is all. I must go lie down now.


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