Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Corn and Caucuses (or what I learned from Wikipedia this morning)

This is what I know about Iowa:

1) It is in the midwest.
2) They grow corn there.
3) When I was 10 years old, the love of my 5th grade year, Jeremy Woodford, moved with his family (as if he had a choice at the ripe age of 10 to stay behind and live out his days with me) to Des Moines and left me clutching his elementary school football jersey in the gym after a dance.
4) Every 4 years, the candidates flock to the state to duke it out and win over the undecided voter.

The Iowa caucus generally falls on the first Tuesday of January, which means you probably missed most of the hype due to the month-long excitement of office Christmas parties and watching the Yule Log on Netflix. But even when you aren't tuned in, it still happens.

Iowa seems to be a rather random choice for candidates to attack and conquer. A more rational decision would be Texas. Look how many people live in Texas. That's like half the country. Seal up the Texan vote and you are as good as inaugurated. Or what about Maryland? Those folks live so close (and sometimes intertwined with) the D.C. set that surely they would only vote in someone they deem worthy as a neighbor.

But, nope, Iowa it is. All because Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, used his "win" in Iowa to catapult him into success in New Hampshire and ultimately to 1600 Pennsylvania. Ever since, candidates have traveled to America's land of corn and Jeremy Woodford to hold court in places like The Pizza Ranch. These town hall meetings, which sometimes happen in a town hall but more often than not take place in someone's colonial home living room (decorated with Queen Anne coffee tables and a roaring fire) are called caucuses. I love the word caucus. I think it sounds like a rowdy party of cactuses (except, technically it's cacti and when you say it like that it just doesn't make sense any more). So these cactuses get together on a Friday night and, fueled by Captain Morgan rum and the hopes of bumping pricklies with a cactus from Economics class, throw a toga party in the basement of a city hall building. By midnight, the DJ is grinding jams while the cactuses are grinding trunks and that is called a caucus.

Or it's "a smoke-filled room where candidates for public election are pre-selected in private", according to the diary of James Adams. Although James Hammond Trumbull suggested that it comes from the Algonquin word for counsel. And other sources claim it is derived from the Latin word caucus, meaning "drinking vessel".

Regardless of whether they're getting counseled or getting drunk, Iowa gets the first stab at it every 4 years. But the Iowa caucus is not without its fair share of controversy.

Winning the Iowa caucus does not always equate to presidency.

Apparently, the Democrats must vote publicly in an Iowa caucus, which is just lunacy. Even a Kindergarten teacher can tell you that closing your eyes and raising your hand is the only legitimate way to take a vote.

Absentee voting is not allowed. Our deepest apologies to all of the Iowan military serving abroad. You are basically Washington D.C. during the Iowa caucus.

The equation for calculating votes is apparently very complex and not as easy as "1 for Bachman, 5 for Gingrich, 19457436368474 for Romney."

Speaking of complex, my hat goes off to whomever wrote the breakdown for the Democratic and Republican processes for Wikipedia. I got hopelessly lost somewhere around the 2nd paragraph and started thinking about how I was so hungry for strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But I think everyone would agree, you know your political shit.

So, today is a big day for the corn-fed. They will close their eyes and raise their hands (being Republican and all) and later tonight someone will emerge victorious. I hope it's Rick Santorum in those ridiculous v-neck vests. I see a fashion trend there that's just itching to emerge.

And now that I think about it, maybe substitute the word "potato" for every time I used the word "corn". Hard to keep my starches straight.

Do you live in Iowa? Do you have some light to shed on the matter? Are you offended that I called you corn-fed? Don't take it personally, so am I.


  1. I think the potatoes come from Idaho. But the cactuses are definitely in Iowa.

  2. I hesitate to comment .... well, not too long, it seems. You forgot to mention that Iowa, with 3 million people, is 91% white and one of the most rural states in the country - only 57 people per square mile.

    The buzz they get is way too big for their value as a political weathervane. Virginia has 8 million people at a density four times as great, and only 65% white. Georgia has 9 million folks, 60% white, and nearly three times as dense a population. Either one would be a better bell-weather. But the caucuses do bring a boat-load of money into the state for three or four months.

    My advice is to get a veggie-based beverage ready (grape or hop-based would do), a nice snack, and then enjoy the talking heads tonight.

    By the way, love the new background on the blog, and want to talk with you about a little work for Daisy and Elm. I will email.

  3. Everything I know about politics and campaigning I learned from The West Wing. Well, everything valuable anyway. 20 Hours in America is one of my fave eps and takes place a few months before the Iowa caucuses. I'll probably watch that over the talking heads. Campaign years make me want to hit the bottle. Speaking of, is Champagne Friday coming back??

  4. this will be nothing about Iowa, or politics I'm just happy to have you back sweet magnolia! :) ox

  5. You know that history and I are just making acquaintances, so thanks for this! I feel much smarter now! Or at the very least, better informed and less ignorant.

  6. The thing I learned about Iowa the past week? Newt Gingrich has terrible taste in ties!

  7. Hahah love it. And you were nearly right about those sweater vests. =)

    Weirdly, though, your posts are deciding not to show up in my reader now that you're back to M&M. Trying to figure that one out now...

  8. Kind of upset I missed them this year. I always wondered why they started the election process in Iowa of all places, but it all makes sense now. Thanks for this!

    Also loving your new bloggy background--looks beautiful, Ally!


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