The Circus is Assembling


At the Caucus

LAKE MACBRIDE—A friend wrote a letter to the editor politely asking us to boycott the May 26 and 27 appearance of elephants in the Shrine Circus at the county fairgrounds. It was a brief letter, reflective of her ongoing concern with the treatment of animals. Here it is in its entirety:

Wild animals do not belong in the circus.
I was disappointed to learn that a circus that uses elephants and other wild animals is coming to Johnson County. Please do not support this circus. The only way wild animals can be trained and controlled is through abuse and intimidation. They lead miserable lives so some people can be “entertained” and others can benefit economically.
To learn more about elephants, please watch the documentary “An Apology to Elephants.” It is available at local libraries.

Last night a colleague from Washington, D.C. called to discuss a program on which we are working. Basically, I am running behind schedule on my part and he was giving me a nudge. As circuses were already on my mind, the conversation turned to the Iowa caucuses.

All kinds of people will come out of the woodwork to Iowa to advocate for their issues in hope of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Some parts of what they say are worth hearing, and outsiders like my friend are fascinated with caucus chat. I told him about billionaire Tom Steyer’s hiring a friend of mine to work on the caucuses, about U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s Iowa connections, and recent activity of the Heritage Foundation in Cedar Rapids. The spell was cast and I escaped close scrutiny on my tardiness.

A broken clock shows the correct time twice a day, and likewise I find myself agreeing with Republicans from time to time. It was regarding skepticism about the merits of capitalism spoken on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

Yesterday, Arnie Alpert, a program coordinator for American Friends Service Committee in New Hampshire, posted about the visits of Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, where the wingers spoke about the problems with cronyism. The gist of it is that small businesses can’t compete against large corporations and their crony capitalism.

“As the Presidential campaign heats up, alongside a growing movement of citizens concerned about the floods of corporate cash washing through the election system, it will be interesting to see whether populist attacks on Big Business find a secure home in the GOP,” wrote Alpert. Who knows? Might happen, but I doubt it.

In Iowa our caucuses are much like a circus replete with rings of advocacy and a clown car of candidates. It seems unlikely Republicans will bring the caliber of performance they did in 2012, since with Obama subject to term limits, it is an open race, and much of the electorate is wising up to the need for common sense. Plus, faves Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin may stop by, but are unlikely to be major players this cycle.

As far as the Democratic side goes, there will be dalliances with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb and others, but the fundamental question is whether Joe Biden will run a third time, or Hillary Clinton a second.

Thing is, there are expected to be plenty of candidates, especially on the Republican side, and they are not elephants, so my friend’s admonition need not apply.

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