• 07:16
  • Wednesday ,05 February 2020

The Iowa caucuses are an embarrassment

by CNN



Wednesday ,05 February 2020

The Iowa caucuses are an embarrassment

 Maybe the fiasco of the late reporting results from the Iowa caucus this year will have a positive legacy -- the end of the caucus process and the invitation to another state to start the delegate selection process.

The caucuses are an embarrassment to the Democratic Party and the United States. This is no way to pick a nominee.
It s not just that the Iowa caucus is unrepresentative demographically -- more than 90% white. It s far more white than a national party that prizes its diversity. The problem is even more fundamental.
Consider the secret ballot, a foundational value in democratic systems. The caucus is a public process, so that neighbors must advertise their choices in public. This is just wrong.
But the problem is much worse. The caucuses -- especially in this cursed year -- demand hours of commitment. This limits the number, and kind, of people who can attend, despite Iowa Democrats allowing satellite caucuses this year. Many people who work at night still cannot attend. People who care for children or other relatives cannot attend. People who have other commitments cannot attend.
Those who cannot attend tend to be lower income, of course, and those people are supposedly the base of the Democratic Party. It s madness to effectively exclude them from the caucus process.
Then there is the 15% viability threshold. Typically, candidates who don t draw 15% in the first round don t receive any delegates. Why? (The Republican caucuses in Iowa have no such rule.) Especially in a first contest, there is no reason to exclude the lesser candidates. And the multiple rounds add to delays.
One of the worst reasons to do anything is ... that s the way we ve always done it. That s pretty much the only justification for continuing to have (a) a caucus (b) in Iowa. It s time for a change -- in the process and in the location.