Living in Society

Where Next After an Iowa Caucus?

Caucus Result: Last share of bartered garlic from a local farm.

The Iowa Democratic Party website reports caucus results from 100 percent of precincts this morning. My precinct results are still wrong.

Our four delegates will get seated at the March 21 county convention because of the paper trail, so no worries. It still bugs me.

I don’t have time to dwell on it. I reported the errors to our county party chair and to my state senator. The two campaigns showing zero people after the second alignment and no delegates have copies of the caucus math sheet. In the bigger scheme of things, Super Tuesday should be the shakeout we need in this Democratic presidential nominating process. The mixed Iowa results should deprive campaigns and the media from making sweeping statements about which candidate was the winner. It is likely a good thing.

That there is a statistical tie for top delegate-getters Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in the first complete reporting isn’t surprising as the electorate of caucus-goers is not of one mind. If this were a race for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives, the nomination would go to a convention to be decided because neither had garnered 35 percent. In the presidential nominating process, the district and state conventions will simply elect a proportional number of delegates to the Democratic National Convention for each candidate. The national convention is the ultimate decider.

Before I move on from the caucus, one last comment on the erosion of registered Democrats in our precinct.

The decline in registered Democrats in Big Grove precinct is about 20 percent since 2008. Then we had five delegates to the county convention, this year we had four. Then there were six candidates in the first alignment (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Obama and Richardson). Monday there were nine. What’s bothersome is the number of Republican registrants stayed about the same over 12 years and no preference registrations grew. We registered some new Democrats at our caucus, but not enough to offset the trend to less people who identify as Democrats.

People ask should Iowa have a first in the nation precinct caucus. The better question is what will we do to convince like minded people to join us in taking our government back from moneyed interests? Because we’re publicly debating the wrong question our efforts to grow the party are stymied.

This year is the U.S. Census and in 2022 the first election after redistricting. Republicans have repeatedly said they aren’t going to change Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process. Many feel they can’t be trusted.

I see growth of the county where I live and a likelihood that Big Grove precinct will become more Democratic after redistricting. If that happens it will make my political life more tolerable but it doesn’t address the underlying trend toward an exodus of partisan Democrats.

We don’t know the half of what’s going on in our government, nor have we in my lifetime. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell the future. I do have confidence our country will correct course. It might be too late to make a difference.

Our industrial age exploits natural resources as if they were an endless commodity. They aren’t. Global warming and the unpredictable impact it is having everywhere is science. The success of our political system is it requires engagement from people who have a stake in its outcomes. We are getting better at it in Big Grove precinct. Here’s hoping the same thing is happening in the other states and territories… and all over the world.