Staff Editorial

With future of the caucuses in jeopardy, Iowans must speak up

Caucus goers walk into their precinct with just a minute to spare at the community center in West Liberty on Monday, Feb
Caucus goers walk into their precinct with just a minute to spare at the community center in West Liberty on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Miscoordination between state and national leaders and a series of technology problems were to blame for Iowa’s poorly executed Democratic Caucuses in February, according to a recently released report commissioned by the party.

Iowa was the target of national ridicule when it took weeks for Democrats to post final results from the presidential nominating contests.

Even before the delay, the caucuses were set to be messy thanks to a new reporting scheme that was confusing to anyone who is not familiar with the process. An imperceptibly small gap between the top two finishers, and the eventual nominee finishing third certainly didn’t improve the situation.

It was a historic low for Iowa’s cherished political tradition, but hardly the start of our problems.

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status and the caucuses themselves are in danger of going extinct. Rank-and-file party activists should speak up now if they hope to have a say in it.

Caucus defenders will need to explain how the system can be more inclusive and accessible. Those of us ready to say goodbye to the archaic system will need to pitch a plan that preserves a seat at the table for rural, low-population states such as ours.

This editorial board has been skeptical about the wisdom of continuing the process in its current form. We wrote in February, “The Iowa caucuses are, at their core, unworkable.” Still, we have not yet been won over by any alternative model that’s been proposed.

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Ultimately, the decision might be out of Iowans’ control. The Republican outlook is less certain, but we know national Democratic Party leaders will pursue plans to standardize the nominating process between states and remove Iowa as the kickoff contest.

Nevertheless, Iowans should make their voices heard. The big wigs in partisan politics have been running the show from on high, and they have not done a great job of it.

State Democrats blaming national Democrats for their 2020 caucus woes will not be satisfying to most Iowans, who see those entities as one and the same.

Whatever the future of our presidential nominating process, everyday Iowans should have a stake in it. Speak up now, before it’s too late.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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