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Democrat disdain for Iowa will ruin Iowa Democrats
Aug. 21, 2022 7:00 am
Recently it was revealed that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told a reporter during the 2020 presidential primary that voters would regularly approach her and say — get this— “I would vote for you, if you had a penis.”
I can’t say I’m surprised by Sen. Warren’s contention that voters would have chosen her for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination if she were a man. I was more surprised that she acknowledged genitalia as the determiner of gender, but I guess the progressive left doesn’t always adhere to their own dogma.
I’m more intrigued by when it was that Sen. Warren told NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali that little gem, which was first reported last weekend when an excerpt from Vitali’s forthcoming book, “Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in the White House … Yet” and was published by Politico on August 12. The remark was made in the overnight hours after the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020, as Warren and members on the press were on a plane from Iowa to New Hampshire, making it easy for one to conclude that Warren was attributing the misogyny of voters to those in early primary states, Iowa in particular.
Maybe she said it out exhaustion or disappointment. With the catastrophic failure of the app used to report results that night, the Iowa caucuses had not gone the way anyone had hoped they would. For Sen. Warren, her apparent third place finish in a field she had once led was an early — and strong — sign that her presidential hopes would not come to fruition. But regardless of why she opted to place the blame for her lackluster finish at the feet of supposedly sexist voters, such a sharp comment— “If you had a penis” wasn’t a paraphrase, it was the actual quote — reeks of disdain for the voters Elizabeth Warren had tried so desperately to court during the preceding months with over 100 campaign events in Iowa.
That disdain for voters in states like ours is emblematic not just of Warren’s attitude, but that of the entire Democrat Party toward smaller, less populated states. In April, the Democratic National Committee’s Rules & Bylaws Committee voted to change its presidential primary calendar, upending years of tradition. By June, Iowa Democrats and the three other carve-out states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada found themselves four of 20 contingents of Democrats — 18 states, Puerto Rico, and Democrats Abroad — vying to go first in the 2024 contest. And due to some of the requirements the DNC has imposed for consideration, Iowa is likely out of the running.
Who will take their place? We won’t know for a couple months. The DNC has delayed the decision about the leadoff states until after the November midterms. That tells us two things: That a different lineup is all but guaranteed; and that the blow to morale in previous leadoff states could jeopardize Democrat candidacies.
Here in Iowa, as much as Democrats want to believe they’ve got a winner in Admiral Mike Franken, the race still is rated as solidly Republican. But in New Hampshire, incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan’s victory is far from assured in a year when a plurality of voters have cited issues such as inflation and government spending as their chief concerns and Hassan has responded by voting for a bloated spending bill. The loss of support for New Hampshire’s spot on the primary calendar would indeed signal a loss of support for Hassan herself. A loss of Hassan’s seat could mean a loss of Democrats’ razor-thin Senate majority.
It isn’t surprising that so many states are jumping at a chance to be one of the first states to hold their presidential contest. There are incredible privileges involved in being a nominating leadoff state. It’s a nice little economic boost with the huge media buys from campaigns. Newspapers have plenty to write about. Local restaurants see foot traffic when candidates host events and get exposure in the media when a candidate is photographed partaking in their signature dish. Local parties draw people and revenue from things like ticket sales when big-name candidates appear at party fundraising events, bolstering their organizational strength.
But just because other states want their turn doesn’t mean they should have it, and just because Iowa and New Hampshire have done it for so many years doesn’t mean they should have it taken away. Rearranging the primary calendar will be a humongous undertaking — not just for national Democrats, but for the states themselves, which have laws related to the specific time and method of their caucuses and primaries.
Iowa law, for example, does not dictate the selection process for presidential nominations, leaving that instead to the parties. But it does say very clearly when those caucuses must take place — no later than the fourth Monday in February of an even-numbered year — and also says that they must occur at least eight days before any other state’s presidential contest. The presidential nomination isn’t the only thing that takes place at a caucus — other business, such as selecting delegates to local conventions and electing members to the county party’s central committees are also done. Suspending Iowa’s first-up turn at presidential nominating won’t change any of that, nor would the legislature ever dream of changing the law to suit the DNC. Without that presidential contest, those caucuses would never be the same for Iowa Democrats.
It will be a massive logistical undertaking to shake up the order — way too much to do it simply for the sake of a shake-up. So what has Democrats so motivated to move beyond Iowa? Simple: the disdain for Iowans (and New Hampshirites) exemplified by Sen. Warren’s comments. But instead of gender, it’s everything else. Iowa is too white. Too rural. Too small. Not representative of the rest of the country. Bad, bad, bad Iowa.
But that’s actually part of the beauty of Iowa’s first-up role in presidential selection. Our tiny population attracts the attention of the nation for our diligence in vetting candidates while still leaving the door wide-open for the game to change after we’ve had our say. We are kingmakers without being deal-breakers. After Iowa, the presidential contest still is anyone’s game, just like it should be. It won’t be that way if crowded, delegate-heavy states like New Jersey or Texas clear the field before other states have their say.
Republicans will keep our first place in the pecking order. National Republicans have already ensured it. Regardless of whether or not Democrats do what they’ve more or less hinted is already done and revoke Iowa’s place in their order, our presidential candidates will show up next spring, summer and fall asking for our vote. We will be brimming with enthusiasm. Democrats, should there even be any candidates left to choose from when their turn arrives, won’t.
Some might say I should enjoy seeing their downfall. I won’t. I don’t want my party just to lead — I want it to lead well, and nothing motivates a political party to determine its principles, seek out good candidates, and engage its voters like stiff competition from the other side. Vetting presidential candidates is one thing both Democrats and Republicans did well and faithfully. But now instead of fighting for Iowa voters, Democrats are turning their back on them. Having decided that because Iowans have nothing to offer the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party has also decided that they have nothing to offer Iowans. How ironic it is that Democrats play a role in making Iowa red.
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