Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Body Count Off The Table In Caucus Review?

I got the above letter in today's snail mail. I'm not sure who all got it; Key Activists and/or county chairs, I suspect. The letter signed by IDP chair Andy McGuire spends most of the first two pages praising our caucus efforts, but buries the lede on page three:
Indeed, one of the harshest lines of criticism after the 2016 caucuses ended was that the Iowa Democratic Party is obligated to release a "raw vote." The Iowa Caucuses aren't a primary election. And we don't think they should be.
That's a BIG restriction to put on the caucus review committee, to be headed by ex-congressman and ex-DP chair Dave Nagle, before it is even named let alone meeting. (I'll still serve if asked, but I won't get my hopes up, and I'm not going to shut up just to get a seat.) Reading between the lines, that seems to be the most important point to even sending this.

(Important note: a 2020 body count and an after the fact release of a 2016 "body count" are very different issues.)

And it's a strong indicator that IDP is sticking its head in the sand and only considering minor repairs. A little on line sign in here, a few more satellite caucuses there.

McGuire continues:
To change the Iowa Caucuses into a primary contest for raw votes would fundamentally change the nomination process. We believe this process, which requires national candidates to appear in diners, elementary school gyms, main street offices, and cornfields, and have conversations with regular people about their everyday concerns not only makes these caucuses special, they provide a platform for the discussion of real issues in an unfiltered way that is critical to the national debate.
The PROCESS isn't what makes "candidates to appear in diners, elementary school gyms, main street offices, and cornfields." FIRST is what makes that happen. And in case you haven't noticed, first is in serious danger.

Some rationalizing: "Delegates aren't allocated to the precincts with the most voters, they are allotted to the precincts where the most active groups of Democratic voters live." You mean like Johnson County getting 6.5% of the state delegates despite having 11.5% of the caucus turnout?

There's a must-read guest diary at Bleeding Heartland which advocates for The Caucuses As There Were. Back to the living rooms:
There is nothing wrong with the Democrats’ version of the Iowa Caucus. It’s not an election; it’s a mini-convention. It isn’t broken; it’s been manipulated by the bright lights of stardom. We need to get back to the fundamental purposes and keep the glitter at a distance. My recommendation is to tweak the procedure slightly: 1) select the permanent chair and secretary; 2) select the precinct committee persons; 3) adopt resolutions; 4) align and realign into preference groups; 5) elect delegates to the county convention; 6) select Platform and Committee on Committee members; 7) Adjourn; and, finally, report results to the County Party.
That would be really easy. And we would be doing it today with a dozen other states, rather than First all by ourselves a month ago. And maybe that would be a good thing.

Another option: Concede to the End The Caucuses call that is increasing - we may not even have a choice - and fight for what we can. Maybe not first anymore; New Hampshire likely wins that fight. But maybe we can preserve early state status and get one of the early carve-out slots. Maybe have a primary for president stuff, and a caucus for just the other stuff, the platform and the committee members.

(A lot of all of this depends on which party wins the White House and which party goes into 2020 as the Out party. Our fates are linked in Iowa...)

I'm not advocating for any of these. My point is, we need a truly open discussion, with nothing off the table. Today's letter seems to severely restrict that discussion before it even starts.

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