4 More Years of Fuckery?

The United States presidential race is gathering steam.

A motley field of Democrats is clawing their way toward an opportunity to face off against incumbent Republican Donald Trump for the coveted ‘most powerful person in the world’ gig. Democratic hopefuls have been jockeying for position since last year, but things started to get real real last week, at the Iowa Caucuses. Held Monday, February 3, the Iowa caucuses are the first event of the 2020 presidential election, maintaining a self-important air in the midst of some serious hokiness.

In keeping with modern U.S. political tradition, they were, of course, also a complete disaster.

By nature, Iowa’s caucuses are tailored for ridiculousness. Rather than simply having every Iowan come in and cast their vote, like most other states, they ‘caucus’—accurately defined as a ‘gathering of neighbours.’ Voters in each precinct gather by party affiliation in preordained public spaces like schools, churches, or even people’s homes to discuss/argue with each other over which candidate they like best. These attempts at persuasion lasts for just 30 minutes, then everyone divides up into groups representing a particular candidate.

Assuming there’s a clear majority for just a couple candidates, the caucusees then talk amongst themselves for another 30 minutes, then realign. This is so that anyone whose first choice is clearly in the minority can realize their lost cause and recast allegiance to another, more viable candidate. Finally, a headcount is noted, which will serve to divide up each precincts delegates between candidates. Results are phoned into the state party, who tally them and alert the media.

But wait, it’s not over yet.

These selected delegates will then gather together and have another caucus of their own. The final majority winner of this get together is generally declared the victor, with others descending behind them in delegates and popularity.

Sound ridiculous? Don’t worry, it gets worse.

For 2020, the Democratic Party rolled out an app to report results. Unfortunately, the app was a buggy mess. When officials could even manage to download the app, which wasn’t often, it would crash and fail repeatedly. Ultimately, everyone resorted to simply phoning results in. Problem solved. Or not. Alas, with every precinct trying to call just a few numbers at the same time, it was insanely hard to get through. This issue was bolstered by an influx of prank calls from Internet trolls, all of which left some precinct officials on hold for hours.

When results did finally start to trickle out, they were pretty shocking. A new Democratic frontrunner had emerged, Pete Buttigieg, springing somehow from a distant fourth place to claim 14 delegates, passing Bernie Sanders, who received 12, and leaving Elizabeth Warren and former front runner Joe Biden in third and fourth place, respectively.

Buttigieg, dubbed ‘Mayor Pete’ due to his former position and single greatest political bona fide as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, immediately caught shade for the fact that the CEO and founder of Shadow, the company behind the Democrat’s poorly performing app, was also the wife of a senior Buttigieg campaign strategist Michael Hale. Conspiracy theories abounded.

While the Democratic party claims the data collected by the app is sound and is in fact backed up by photographs of results and a paper trail, many have been sceptical, with major news outlets such as the Associated Press still declining to declare a winner in Iowa.

Last Thursday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez requested a ‘recanvassing,’ or recount, of the results. Now, many pundits regard the Iowa results to be a good indicator of where the election will fall, and it’s a matter of much pride for the stoic midwestern state. So when Perez added insult to injury by also openly questioned whether Iowa should continue to hold their presidential caucuses, it led to a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party to demand the state sue Perez for disparaging their time-honoured shitshow. While litigation is unlikely, candidate Tulsi Gabbard called for Perez to resign, and the rest of the world shook their heads at yet another example of the gross ineptitude of the DNC.

On Monday, February 10, the Sanders campaign also requested a recanvassing, and as of press time, no official results have been released. Where this winds up remains to be seen, but hey, what a kickoff to election year!

Next, all eyes turned to the state of New Hampshire, who’s “Live Free or Die” motto is well served as the second stop of the aspirational presidential roadshow. The past few months have seen candidates making countless appearances here, tour busses crisscrossing narrow country highways and eager pols earnestly kissing babies, pumping hands, and drinking enough diner coffee to ulcerate a lead bag. On primary week, politicians are chaperoned by representatives of every media outlet with enough budget to spring for a rental car or coach seat, an army of underpaid journalistic hopefuls who mill about awkwardly shouting questions and trying to breathe around mouthfuls of complimentary stale pastries.

The national highlight of New Hampshire’s primary spotlight was last Friday’s Democratic debate. Held at stately St. Anselm College in Manchester, it started with tarnished-golden-boy former vice president Joe Biden copping to taking a hit in Iowa and admitting he expected much of the same from New Hampshire. The rest of the evening devolved into awkward shots of candidates who haven’t noticed their time has passed—Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer—and jockeying for notable issue differences between the real players.

Whether you like the debate format or not, they’re one of very few opportunities for a candidate to step up and outshine their competitors while all on the same stage, and this is exactly what happened with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Biden have been showing real weakness, and Klobuchar used the debate to make her presence known in New Hampshire. As a result, her campaign gained real traction, with millions of new dollars suddenly flowing in. After months as an afterthought, the midwestern moderate found herself within striking distance of the top tier, likely taking third place in NH behind Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete.

Monday also saw President Trump, running essentially unopposed on the Republican ticket, holding his own rally in Manchester. Trump extolled conservatives to go to the polls and ‘send a message,’ while cajoling Democrats for ‘not even being able to count their votes.’

Trump lost New Hampshire to Hilary Clinton by just 2700 votes in 2016, and his campaign is spending heavily with hopes of flipping in the closely divided state red in November.

New Hampshire voted Tuesday night, and you can follow along for live tallies via Politico here and the New York Times here. So far notable news includes former frontrunner Biden bailing to South Carolina’s friendlier ground, Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet (who?) dropping out and pointing to Bernie Sanders likely winning the day, carried to victory amidst a Strokes-fueled sing-along. Mayor Pete and The Moderate Klobuchar are projected for 2nd and 3rd place, with Elizabeth Warren wobbling into 4th. With New Hampshire closed, all eyes move to March 3, AKA Super Tuesday, when 15 regions representing over a third of the US population take to the polls and the bloodbath of democracy continues.

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