As a voter who does not live in Iowa-- like ninety-nine percent of Americans-- I am disgusted that such disproportionate amounts of money and attention has been spent by presidential campaigns on winning the Iowa caucuses.
Amidst all of the mainstream media's ballyhooing of the momentum to be gained in the tight Iowa polls, The New York Times finally examined the caucuses sheer unfairness and obsoleteness.
A relic from over two hundred years ago, the evening caucuses start at a certain time, and exclude any who can't attend. This leaves out "the infirm, soldiers on active duty, medical personnel who cannot leave their patients, parents who do not have baby sitters, restaurant employees on the dinner shift, and many others who work in retail, at gas stations and in other jobs that require evening duty." It's a pretty unvarnished nose-thumbing at the working class.
Samuel Isaacharoff, an election law professor at New York University, observed, "just as nonrepresentative as Iowa is of the country, Iowa caucusgoers are nonrepresentative of Iowa as a whole."
Racially, Iowa is indeed nonrepresentative of the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, Iowa's residents are 94.6% white, 2.5 % black, 3.8% Latino, and 1.6% Asian. Nationally, American residents are 66.4% white, 12.8% black, 14.8% Latino, and 4.4% Asian.
The Iowa caucuses are not a fair predictor of national sentiment on who should lead our nation. They're not even necessarily telling about how Iowans feel.
The caucuses have been overhyped to the point of insanity. Hopefully, for 2012, our leaders and electorate will now begin dismantling our byzantine and antidemocratic presidential election system in favor of a national primary and a national general election determined by popular vote.
Dan Brown is a teacher and the author of "The Great Expectations School."
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