We’re at the absolute lowest point during the presidential election silly season. I’ve been paying attention to presidential politics since the ripe old age of 10 or so, when a friend’s mother asked me why I supported Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. I had no idea. I’m sure she meant well. I remember flexing my brain. With superior logic, I could convince another voter to join “my side”! The pressure was on.
“I think we should give him a chance to finish what he started.” Silly younger me, as if Ford ever started anything. I’m pretty sure I’d picked that up someplace important, like public school. I walked away humiliated.
Poor President Ford: Right down there with President John Tyler when anybody asks “President Who?”
I’ll save you the internet search. Tyler was the one after William Henry Harrison. President Harrison gave his inaugural address on a cold wet wintry day in March of 1841 in order to prove how studly he was. A month later he was dead from pneumonia. That, modern-day presidential candidates, is commitment to your narrative. Harrison is one of our more fondly remembered presidents because he never got the chance to break his campaign promises.
After doing the math, I realized this is my eleventh election cycle. We arrive here every four years, and everybody is fighting with everybody else because anyone can still win it. People suddenly start to think they hate everyone who isn’t supporting their candidate when the real problem is that everyone actually hates Iowa.
Iowa is the first state in the presidential primaries, the cumbersome process our two national parties take in order to determine who they will respectively run for president. In simpler times, a bunch of power-brokers would wheel and deal in a tavern someplace and decide who had the best chance and that would be that. These were often referred to as “smoke-filled back rooms” because when Satan shows up, he smokes. Tobacco, not weed.
Because he is *that* evil.
Nowadays we get a constant stream of news stories out of Iowa because presidential contestants form the line right after the new guy is sworn in. These get successively closer together and far more painful as the primary season approaches. This never-ending labor-cycle emanates from a place everybody knows about but can’t point to on a map.
Voter 1: Iowa? That’s one of those states in the middle, right?
Voter 2: No, imbecile. It’s in Ohio.
So we’re all tired of Iowa and hearing about farmers and ethanol. We’re all sick of politicians who keep promising to give lots and lots of taxpayer money to the farmers in Iowa. Mostly we’re sick of having to pay 25 cents more per gallon so we can add liquid corn, which nobody wants, to our gasoline. Meanwhile, delicious corn in cob form is nowhere to be found, at any price.
It isn’t like the state conducts a proper vote anyway. On “caucus night”, Iowans who care gather in bowling alleys and corn fields, and decide in a very specious fashion who they want to run for president. I’m not going to describe the process because nobody understands it, including Iowans. It is no wonder they usually get it wrong.
Just looking at the Republican side of things, Iowans picked Bush over Reagan in 1980, Dole over Bush in 1992, Huckabee in 2008, and Santorum in 2012. Younger readers are probably asking “who?” to which us greybeards will reply “it isn’t worth looking up.” They got it right in 1996 by picking Bob ‘It’s my turn now’ Dole. This was hardly an accomplishment. They also picked George W. Bush in 2000.
The latter proves that any voting process, no matter how screwed up it is, will eventually get something right. If you can call George Bush, “right.”
Relax, America. Skip the debates, skip the drama, skip the results on February 1. It’s random odds whether or not they’ll foretell the future. They’ll certainly be overstated until New Hampshire votes. Thank heavens that’s only a week later.
Voter 1: New Hampshire is one of those ultra-hippy-liberal northeastern states?
Voter 2: That one’s in Canada, moron.
Finally, a little advice for those of you who are still undecided about which candidate to support.
Don’t tell anyone, unless you think you can make it until March 1 without sleep. Supporters of all the other candidates will hound you relentlessly until Super Tuesday, when everybody knows who will win the nominations. Fourteen states and American Samoa cast their ballots on the first Tuesday of March (it lands on the first this year). Only the Democrats count votes from American Samoa, though, because that’s how committed they are to immigration. Yes, Mexico is ticked because the Dems are playing favorites.
If you are lucky enough to live in a caucus state, trade your vote for something worthwhile. Caucus rules vary from state to state and outright bribery is illegal, so you’re going to have to do a little legwork yourself to figure out the proper form the payoff takes. Don’t be discouraged by a low-ball offer. Anything is better than what voters in regular states get: a lotto ticket to win jury duty.
I don’t believe the candidate I like will keep their promises. What should I do? This is a common problem for some voters. Keep in mind there are two broad categories of voter: those who believe the politician they support will keep their promises, and smart ones. Be a smart voter. The promises they make are important, keeping them is irrelevant. So if you like a candidate and like their promises, vote for them.
Finally, chill. Don’t go ballistic if your otherwise-sane online group is currently suffering from presidential primary pre-election petulance. It will pass. Like a kidney stone.
I’m just the messenger on this one, folks. Feel free to shoot me.