Friday, January 29, 2016

When It Comes To Dumbos/Teabaggers, Forrest Gump Got It Right: "Stupid Is As Stupid Does"

On February 1, 2016, the registered Republican and Democrat voters from all 1,774 Iowa voting precincts meet and cast their vote after discussion. The lamestream media will speak in serious tones. The fate of civilization as we know it is at stake (until the New Hampshire primary election on February 9, 2016, yada yada yada). If this is (fair & balanced) quantification of mental functions, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
"How Stupid Is Iowa?"
By Eags (Timothy Egan)

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In the 44 years since the two major parties have allowed a small cohort of Midwesterners to decide the nation’s first presidential contest, the good people of Iowa have debated issues ranging from nuclear Armageddon to universal health care.

And then there’s 2016, when the top two Republican candidates in the dwindling hours before caucusgoers pick a nominee are throwing around this question: “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”

It was Donald Trump who first raised the issue of Hawkeye State imbecility, in a mocking reference to a crush that Iowans had on Ben Carson last fall. And it’s the odious Ted Cruz who has been using Trump’s very words to goad Iowans into proving that they are not, in fact, so stupid as to back an ego-inflamed reality television star who makes fun of them.

We will know soon enough. But before leaving the fog in the rental car’s rearview mirror, let’s take a whack at the insanity of allowing one state such disproportionate power.

The problem is not that the people of Iowa are stupid. They are not, by most measurements. It’s that Iowa looks nothing like the rest of America. As a result, the winners, more often than not, are nationally unelectable extremists. Who can remember President Rick Santorum or President Mike Huckabee, both previous winners? Or President Uncommitted, who beat Jimmy Carter in 1976? And what to make of the finding that 43 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers this year are self-described socialists, prepared to select a dyspeptic and unelectable senator as their candidate?

You’re supposed to be vetting, Iowa. You’re supposed to be culling out the crazies. You’re supposed to recognize the fraud of Ted Cruz and how Donald Trump is playing you. For all your touted small-town verities, you’re not doing your job. Your bull manure detector is broken.

It’s time to let other states have a go at it. At least we’ll hear less about corn subsidies and Corinthians II, or is it Two Corinthians? Discuss. No, don’t! Stupid, stupid people. Again, that’s Trump talking, not me. He uses that word to describe nearly everyone not named Donald J. Trump. He’s presented no governing philosophy, no policy details, nothing resembling even-keeled judgment. He’s running a combustible celebrity feud fest, and you love it.

As a bellwether, the Iowa caucuses are no more predictive than a gasbag on an ethanol high swaying from a bridge in Madison County. As a representative exercise relevant to the concerns of a nation of 322 million people, the caucuses are laughable.

Consider that half of all the babies born last year in the United States were nonwhite. Not in Iowa, of course, one of the whitest states in the nation. On Monday, if the Republican caucus is anything like the 2012 turnout, 99 percent of the attendants will be white. That’s not even the United States of 1816, let alone this year.

We’re a young nation, though you won’t see much of that fresh blood when Republicans gather on Monday night. Iowa is the fourth oldest state in the nation: In 2012, nearly seven out of 10 Republican caucusgoers was older than age 45.

And Iowa women are not leaning in, at least in one party, where a majority of Republican caucusgoers are men. As for religion, 57 percent of 2012 Republican caucusgoers were evangelical — more than twice the percentage of the electorate nationwide.

Trump can call for a police state pogrom against 11 million people and be rewarded, because a majority of Republican caucusgoers are white, native-born and believe that electing a demagogue will make American white again.

The evangelicals, in particular, deserve Trump’s taunt at their intelligence. Devout Christians profess a belief in piety, humility and sacrifice. The thrice-married Trump says he’s never asked God for forgiveness. His entire campaign is about pride, ego, solipsistic excess. He can’t even fake evangelical speak. For this, he’s their favorite. As he said, he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose supporters.

It’s time to rotate. Imagine Trump making his racially incendiary remarks in the most populous state, California, where Latinos outnumber whites. Or think of the ideas that could emerge from a focus on how the least populous state, Wyoming, could build a more sustainable economy beyond oil and gas. Missouri could bring its raw racial troubles to the table for a larger national debate.

None of this is discussed in the gloomy chill of Iowa. Instead, we have the stupidity question. Trump raised it. And if he wins on Monday, the people of Iowa will have answered him. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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