View Full Version : Iowa Caucus="unAmerican"?

01-19-2004, 08:32 PM
I'm sitting here watching CSPAN, where they're showing a live caucus session. It makes me think of the old saying about watching sausage being made. But here is what got me to the point of writing this thread: when they asked how many people supported the different candidates, only one man raised his hand in support of Gephardt. In accordance with the rules his "vote" didn't count, since there weren't enough Gephardt supporters there. "One man, one vote" clearly (to me, anyway) goes out the window in Iowa. That, and the whole idea of a "secret ballot". Oh, and I also noticed no lack of campaign signs in the room. In states with primaries, aren't signs prohibited a certain distance from the polling place? It all seems so foreign and...well...unAmerican. I realise this may be moved to the Pit, but thought I'd start here since I'm not ranting. Yet.

John Mace
01-19-2004, 08:56 PM
Keep in mind that a caucus, or even a primary, is not an election. It's how a party picks its candidate to run in the election. I suppose if a political party decided to pick its candidate by drawing straws, it could do so.

01-19-2004, 09:15 PM
I never attended a caucus while I was living in Iowa, so I don't know first hand what they're like. I do know my dad said he'll be glad when today is over, but then he's voting for Bush anyway, so there's not much drama there.

The caucus idea doesn't seem bad, but I'm concerned about one thing. Last weekend I heard an interview with a union rep from New York who was in Iowa campaigning. I forget which candidate he was favoring, but what I wondered about is how people might be affected if they're union members and don't support the endorsed candidate. I mean, in an open vote situation everybody knows how each person votes, so couldn't members end up (illegally) suffering if they go against the union? You know, not being fairly treated, or being ignored if they have issues to bring to the union later? I mean, how could they prove it was because of their votes at the caucus?

01-19-2004, 10:44 PM
If you can, get access to a copy of Heinlein's Take Back Your Government, which he wrote around 1950 as a citizen's guide to becoming actively involved in politics. It has a detailed explanation of how the caucus system works that makes immense sense once you read it.

Spavined Gelding
01-19-2004, 11:34 PM
The Iowa caucuses are a device for selecting delegates to the county party conventions, which it turn are a device for selecting delegates to the state convention which picks delegates for the national convention this summer. It is not an election. It is a party function. The Democrats have theirs and the Republicans have theirs and for all I know the Greens and the Natural Law types have theirs. Whether or not a candidate comes out of the local caucus with any votes is a function of how many delegates to the county convention are selected by that particular caucus. For instance, in my caucus in a rural county we select three delegates to the county party convention. The number of delegates is a function of population and registered voters. Twenty-four registered voters showed up at my caucus. Accordingly, to select one delegate to the county convention the candidate had to have eight participants favoring him. By a rounding off process if one candidate had 15 of the 24 and an other candidate had 9 of the 24, then the first candidate got two delegates to the county convention and the second candidate got one delegate. You can't send a delegate that is half committed to Congressman Gephardt and half committed to Governor Dean. The delegate has to be one thing or another.

If you want to think that the caucus system is some sort of straw poll it makes little sense. If you think that it is an election as for school board or city council it is insane. As town meeting to select delegates it works very nicely, thank you.