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    We Are So NOT in Iowa Anymore

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Yes, we are still in an ad nauseam whine-a-thon loop about the total breakdown in Iowa’s long awaited Democratic Presidential Primary Caucus vote pick last week. Yes, it was and reverberates as a spectacular disaster for the Democrats’ Primary race. Yes, it could not have occurred at a worse time—one day after the closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, the day of the most disgraceful State of the Union Address/Reality TV/Game Show in history, the day after Trump was expectedly acquitted by his goose-stepping cultish allegiant Republican majority Senate.

    And, yes, even with Iowa’s pretty impressive track record of picking Democratic candidates who would go on to be the Party’s nominee—and a few notably became president, like one Senator Barack Hussein Obama—it’s time that Democrats pack up the big tent caucus circus in the Hawkeye State, and move on down the road to kick off the primary picks. What’s wrong with Michigan? How about Ohio?

    Seriously. We are so not in Iowa anymore. We haven’t been for a long, long time, and most certainly not in the past 3–4 years. The top arguments for a move out of Iowa are obvious, painfully tiresome even, but warrant to be heard, and I quote:

    “Iowa hardly represents the diverse demographic trends of the Democratic Party.”
    “The state is one of the whitest states with 91% white population, barely 4% African American, barely 3% Asian, and apparently no Hispanics.”
    “Does anyone really understand the bizarre byzantine caucus process?”
    “In all of the media coverage in Iowa, I didn’t see a singular person of color, or anyone LGBTQ identified, well, other than (Presidential Candidate) Mayor Pete,” et cetera.

    For five decades when Iowa caucusing became the first stop along the primary voting season, the grassroots, folksy, kick-the-tires appeal of meeting candidates up close and personal in living rooms, school gymnasiums, and county fairs was as nostalgic as it was idealistic.

    Historically, Iowa has actually been a fairly progressive midwestern agrarian state on civil rights, women’s rights, and, as the third midwestern state to permit same sex marriage in 2009. However, Iowa has never been anywhere close to being racially diverse, and doesn’t appear to become so anytime soon. Does that make the majority white state overtly racist? I don’t think so. Does its lack of a pronounced LGBT center or movement make it wholly homo- or transphobic? Probably not.

    After all, Mayor Pete landed in a tight, neck-in-neck drawn-out virtual tie with Bernie to claim the first-place mantle. Still, even as the population gravitates towards more college town and urban center dwelling, that doesn’t necessarily translate into the inherent diversity that the Democratic Party purports to represent.

    In addition to racial and ethnic diversity that reflects burgeoning demographic minority-majority population trends, it would be great to hold the first Democratic presidential primary and caucus events in a midwestern pace that also has a healthily represented LGBTQ community. It won’t be California for a good long while, if ever. So, again, what’s wrong with Michigan? If we have to go southward, what about Florida?

    Look, I suppose after 3 years in waiting and 2 years of presidential campaigning, lack of training on newfangled technologies, and just plain ditching newfangled apps by mostly elder caucus and precinct leaders can happen to anybody at such a critical, high stakes vote tally, right?

    If so, this was the most daunting time in American electoral history for this unacceptable blunder to have occurred. Given the suppression tactics and anxieties abounding about the integrity and security of our local, state, and federal election processes during this particularly lawless, careless, and vindictive President’s welcome of foreign interference in elections—for which he is now impeached, forever!—the nostalgic folksy, coffee klatch caucusing days of Iowa should be no more in 2024.

    We are now in the Stranger Things upside down with an impeached, but not removed, dangerously unbound President who managed to bend the will of the Constitution to as close as possible to a snap into a monarchical rule, with an early yet, but wobbling, cast of presidential hopefuls to defeat him in November.

    The primary campaign train has moved on to New Hampshire, soon to Nevada, California, and so on. Let’s hope Democrats can get back on solid track for a confident, solidly diverse coalition to finally knock his majesty off his golden throne. Moving onward and upward, thank goodness, we are not in Iowa anymore.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights and marriage equality. A Co-Founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    Published on February 13, 2020