The 2016 Iowa Caucuses are coming up this Monday. Since 1972, the Iowa caucuses have been the first major electoral event of the nominating process for President of the United States. As of this year, this process only involves Democrats and Republicans in Iowa. You must register as as one or the other to participate at either respective caucuses location. This can be done at the caucus location on the evening of the caucus. Each party has information about where your caucus will be held on their party website. Every candidate, as well as the Secretary of State of Iowa, will be happy to help you find this information. Historically about 20% of Iowa’s voters participate in the process, however, when it came down to election day in 2012, 69.9 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population cast ballots. It seems to me that the caucus order should be different each year but since Iowa has gone first for so long I decided to figure out why this has been the case. I also wanted to take a look at the overall landscape as of press time.
Due to a chaotic 1968 election, new national party rules led Democrats in Iowa to implement a proportional representation system, giving more candidates room to compete in the state. The state party chairman was determined to give every delegate a copy of the rules and platform proposals. Officials determined that they would need four months to print the materials on their mimeograph machine. Iowa Democrats enjoyed the increased attention stemming from the date change, and Iowa Republicans found themselves wishing they had an earlier caucus as well. The parties agreed to hold caucuses on the same January date in 1976, the practice has continued ever since.
The last Democratic debate before said first caucuses saw candidate Bernie Sanders asking for additional DNC sanctioned debates in its aftermath. It is worth noting that there are Democratic candidates still running that have, as of yet, been excluded from debating. This includes Lloyd Kelso, Willie Wilson, and Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente. The last Republican debate before the Iowa Caucuses saw Rand Paul in on the main debate and Donald Trump absent. It is worth noting that the ratings were considerably higher at this Republican debate than they were at their previous debate. It is also worth noting that the last qualifying candidate to skip a final debate before the Iowa caucuses was Ronald Reagan.
As pointed out earlier, only Democrats and Republicans currently hold caucuses in Iowa. If the Green Party were to caucus, attendees would be choosing between Darryl Cherney, Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry, Bill Kreml, Dr. Kent Mesplay and Dr. Jill Stein. You can find out additional information about these candidates at the Green Party website. If the Libertarian Party was to caucus attendees would be choosing between candidates including Gary Johnson, Austin Peterson, John McAfee, Marc Allan Feldman, Cecil Ince, and Steve Kerbel. Jesse Ventura has suggested an attempt to gain the nomination but he has not yet officially entered the race. You can find out additional information about these candidates, including a full candidate list, at the Libertarian Party website. If the Reform Party were to caucus attendees would be choosing between Dr. Lynn Kahn, Ken Cross, and Ed Chlapwski. You can find out additional information about these candidates at the Reform Party website.
I have two favors to ask of you Iowa. I must ask that you consider participating in your caucus no matter what party you currently belong to and especially if you do not currently participate. Iowa has one of the oldest populations in the country. Many older Iowan’s rely on the major news outlets for their information. I ask that you talk to your parents, grandparents, and older friends about their options in the elections. It is no secret that certain candidates receive more air time than other candidates, thus, older citizens may not be informed of all of their options. I see this as the fourth estate not doing it’s job. Why else do I think that the fourth estate, as well as your participation in the democratic process is especially important right now? Well, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just unveiled a sweeping war authorization bill and cleared it for a Senate vote. McConnell used a procedural rule to waive the requirement that his bill go through the committee process and instead have it ready for a floor vote at any time. He already has four co-sponsors on it: Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who introduced a nearly identical AUMF last month. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called it “dangerous” because it effectively strips Congress of its constitutional role in voting on matters of war. “This resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S. Constitution,” Murphy said. “It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world, for almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations.” Not only do I suggest you that you participate, I suggest that we need a full on revolution. I am inviting you to rage against the machine with me on Monday. Let us get it started.
“Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.“
Marco Battaglia writes for the Iowa Free Press and is a proud member of The Fourth Estate
Photo Credit: ©ottawawebdesign / Dollar Photo Club