Caucus rules and caucus trivia: You can caucus for anyone you want. Republicans have an all write in ballot and Democrats have no ballot at all. Just go stand in your corner. And at an Iowa City dorm precinct, some students did just that and elected a Carter delegate.
This gives me an idea, and perhaps a strategery, to navigate my neutrality.
What if I caucus for Jimmy Carter in 2016?
It would be a tribute to Carter's role in caucus history. Carter, of course, is the man who made the Iowa Caucuses into THE IOWA CAUCUSES so we have him to thank for all the attention that has come since. A caucus corner would be a nice tribute. And I know people who still brag that he slept on their couch in 1975, so maybe I'd have some allies.
Walter Mondale is still available as a running mate. And the 1980 defeat means that despite the mistake of the 22nd Amendment (without which Bill Clinton would STILL be President) Carter still has one term left.
But there's another, more solid reason to caucus for Carter: To make a serious statement about foreign policy.
Compare these 2015 statements from four leading Democrats about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“In terms of Israel and Palestine you are looking at one of the more depressing tragedies that has gone on in the world for the last 60 years. And I would not be telling you the truth if I said I have a magical solution. But this is what I do believe. I believe in two simple principles. Number one, Israel has a right to exist in peace and security. The Palestinians are entitled to a state of their own with full political and economic power. That's the broad view that I hold and I will do everything that I can to make that happen.”Democrat B:
I have stood with Israel my entire career. (In one office), I fought to get Magen David Adom accepted to the International Red Cross when other nations tried to exclude the organization. I wrote and co-sponsored bills that isolated terror groups, and pushed to crack down on incitement in Palestinian textbooks and schools. (In another office), I requested more assistance for Israel every year, and supported the lifesaving Iron Dome rocket defense system. I defended Israel from isolation and attacks at the United Nations and other international settings, including opposing the biased Goldstone report...Democrat C:
“This senseless violence produces nothing but tragedy and more distrust, and it does not move the people and the parties closer to a peaceful and long-lasting resolution,” said Democrat C. “Both sides have to take steps to end this violence and address the underlying cause of it. Both sides have to make the resumption of discussion, talk and dialogue to include a fair, safe and adequate access to sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Provocative actions on either side must be avoided.”Democrat D:
“The Netanyahu government decided early on to adopt a one-state solution … but without giving them [the Palestinians] equal rights.” In this sentence, Democrat D accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having pursued, upon his election in 2009, a deliberate policy of relentlessly annexing and colonizing the Palestinian West Bank, ensuring that it will end up as part of Israel. At the same time, Democrat D said, Netanyahu conspired to ensure that the 4.2 million Palestinians under Israeli occupation remain stateless and without rights.Democrat* A is Bernie Sanders, who for all his revolutionary zeal is relatively conventional on Israel/Palestine.
Democrat B, as you likely guessed, is Hillary Clinton, who took an Israel/Palestine question in Coralville last week, gave a pro-Israeli answer, and followed up the next day with a piece headlined "How I Would Reaffirm Unbreakable Bond With Israel — and Benjamin Netanyahu."
Democrat C is Martin O'Malley, who was at least willing to TALK to an Arab-American group, but was backpedaling the next day and issuing disclaimers sticking blame to the Palestinians.
Democrat D, of course, is Jimmy Carter:
But who comes to me, huh? Fucking nobody. Why ask old Jimmy anything? What the fuck could he know about peace in the Middle East? It's not like he fucking won the Nobel Peace Prize for that shit. You myopic pricks. Back in '79, I sat Sadat and Begin right down and made those two dicklicks shake hands. It was beautiful—I had all the pieces lined up and I smiled and waved in my best fucking suit and tie right there on TV. And what do you do, you pieces of shit? You screw the whole goddamn pooch.Oops. Wrong article. But even though those aren't Carter's words (he's a Sunday School teacher, for Christ's sake), it's a reasonably accurate assessment.
Carter actually DID say:
In international affairs, I would say that peace for Israel and its neighbors has been a top priority of my foreign policy projects for the past thirty years. Right now I think the prospects are more dismal than any time I can remember in the last 50 years. There’s practically– the whole process is practically dormant. The government of Israel has no desire for a two-state solution, which is the policy of all the other nations in the world. And the United States has practically no influence compared to past years in either Israel or Palestine. So I feel very discouraged about it, but that would be my number one foreign policy hope.We aren't talking enough about the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is central to the entire regional conflict, this election. And if we were, none of the three Democrats actually running is addressing it in anything like an appropriate way.
Only Jimmy Carter, who won a freakin' Nobel Peace Prize for that crap, who has been out of electoral politics for 35 years, has the courage to speak the truth. And to write a book that in its title explicitly called Israeli policy "apartheid."
I've neutraled myself out of the caucuses, though I will eventually pick a corner. And he won't be viable anyway so it won't be registered anywhere and I'll need to realign. But maybe, just maybe, walking to my own Jimmy Carter corner would be my own little statement, more than walking to my own Uncommitted corner would be. And only the Onion part feels like a joke.