Friday, January 4, 2008

Caucuses are weird

So it's 2008 and I'm sure everyone has election fever. Well I do at least. Last night was the first round of a long process which will narrow down the candidates who will inevitably run for President. I must say though, what is the deal with the Iowa Caucus? Why Iowa? I know there's some historical precident for this but I'm not sure it makes sense to place so much emphasis on a state that is not really representative of how the rest of the country thinks (Nothing against Iowa but all those evangelicals voting for Huckabee aren't necessarily what America thinks. Also, does anyone know if Mike has campaign shirts that say "I heart Huckabee"? B/c that would be cute altho I don't know if he would be into name checking a sucky movie about existentialism. That's right, I think that movie was a time suck and not enjoyable!!!! However, I will say Mark Walberg is funnier than I thought. But I digress...).

Last night, I came to the realization that the caucus system is truly bizarre albeit fascinating. I think I speak for many of you when I say that I was a tad confused about the difference between a caucus and a primary. Well to the extent of my knowledge, a primary is more formal and straightforward. Voters simply cast their ballot for a particular candidate. A caucus is more like a big town meeting where people hear speeches and discuss before voting for a candidate. It is less cloak and dagger and more public. Now that sounds quaint and charming to me but I don't know if I like the caucus system. I mean people are gathering in people's living rooms? That just seems so informal to me! I also don't like the influence and pressure tactics that can be used to impact voting. And some regions might only have like 3 people in the caucus. That seems like unfair weighting to me. The Democrats use a different system than the Republicans. I feel like if we are putting this much emphasis on a caucus, shouldn't methodology be consistent? The Republicans are more straight-forward: people vote and the winner is declared. For the Dems, votes are compiled and then people go into a room where representatives are standing in different areas to indicate each candidate. You then go to stand by the candidate of your choice. However, your candidates must have received 15% of the vote in the first step of the caucus to qualify. As an example, let's say you were in a caucus of 10 people at Tom Sanderson's house. After waiting for Tom to get off of work as I'm assuming everyone must be in the same place at the same time (INEFFICIENT!), you vote. Chris Thompson voted for Biden. He was the only one. Thus, Biden did not receive 15% of the vote so for the second stage of the Democratic caucus, Chris Thompson must pick another candidate to support. Chris loved Bill Clinton but hates Hillary, he wants someone less divisive, someone more palatable as a second choice. Chris decides to go with Obama. Therefore, Obama gets the vote and the original vote for Biden is not reported on. The Dems system cuts out the fat so to speak, letting the bigger dogs shine. But still very odd, n'cest pas?

I was excited that Obama won but I must say I was surprised by how well Edwards did. His crowd turnout in Iowa was much smaller than Obama and Clinton and his funds are also comparatively smaller. This is a tough year for me in terms of candidates. My heart says Obama but my head says "Are you sure?" I do like Hillary's experience and brains and her naked ambition. She's such a power hungry bitch and I actually mean that as a compliment. But people hate Hillary. There's really no middle ground on her whereas people just love Obama and his inspirational messages of hope. But sometimes he seems so naive to me. Edwards is fine but I certainly like Elizabeth more than I like him. I also feel like he should be concentrating on his family right now and not taking them all around the country to indulge his dreams. By the way, check out the video at the NYtimes where they talk about how hard life is on the road for young children and Edwards tells his little moppet son Jack that the reporters who set up basketball games for him, etc are not his friends. I thought that was so mean! That and a lackluster interview on Logo earlier in the year make me eh on Edwards. He can be in the cabinet but he's not ready for the big chair yet.

*Note: I'm just a regular Jane so forgive me if my knowledge of political facts are off.

3 comments:

Julina said...

I, too, have always been a bit confused by primaries and caucuses. Basically anything pre "the big dance" I am wishy washy on. I know what you mean about Hillary. I think I love that she is so ambitious, but is that a reason to vote for her?

Lisa XX said...

She has the hunger in her eyes. But so does Obama....

Karen said...

The first step in a most fascinating political year indeed...