Enraptured in Fandom

Iowa Caucus

Iowa Caucus

We’ve seen it so many times before progressives should be used to it.

The folks at Run Warren Run, financed partly by MoveOn.org, threw in the towel and are “suspending operations,” according to the MoveOn.org website. Hard to run a campaign when Senator Elizabeth Warren said repeatedly she’s not running for president in 2016. Fanboys and fangirls are nonplussed and will literally move on.

Non-Democrat Bernie Sanders announced his Democratic presidential ambition April 30, and pent up demand for a left-leaning presidential candidate burst the scene the way @POTUS and @Caitlyn_Jenner set records for ramping up Twitter followers.

Politicos are enraptured in fandom.

The allure of candidates who fit an intellectual ideal drew me in too. In 1980 it was Ted Kennedy; in 1984, George McGovern. After that, I was busy with a career and life, and moved to Indiana where the presidential elections seemed less important than they do in Iowa. No one else generated this type of excitement, especially when we’re in it for the long term.

Make no mistake, Sanders drew reasonable crowds at his Iowa and Minnesota events. They haven’t reached the bin-buster level yet, even if the room was too small at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City last Saturday, and he drew several thousand people in Minnesota on Sunday. He’s had a good campaign launch, but as Slate points out, the front runner has little reason to worry.

While Sanders confidently told Katie Kouric, “My goal is to win this election,” his election is as likely as those of Presidents Ted Kennedy and George McGovern unless he begins to ramp it up among caucus-goers who are swing voters.

There’s no talking to most fan boys and girls about this. I’ll note one of the very few political questions I’ve heard on the street and at the convenience store has been “Did you see Bernie Sanders?” There is something there.

The art of politics is partly about excitement in a campaign. The problem is people don’t seem to be able to distinguish between events in the corporate news cycle and excitement, let alone momentum (whatever that is).

Note that no 2016 Democratic candidates for president are in Iowa this week.

Yesterday’s article by Paul Waldman of The American Prospect asks the right question, “Does the Iowa Caucus Still Matter?” He correctly points out that our star was diminished by the Republicans in recent cycles. While Jimmy Carter made the most of the caucuses, his style of personal campaigning will be, if it already hasn’t been, relegated to the dustbins of history.

Fandom is not for me, any more than cosplay or being a Trekkie has been. It is a form of enthusiasm, as described by the little known theologian Monsignor Ronald Knox. Not good for the long haul, even if Bernie Sanders has devilish eyes.

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