Friday, January 13, 2012

Is it election time already?

This past weekend I was pondering what to blog about this week. It is too soon for the Superbowl;it is a few weeks away. The New Year is just about two weeks old, and I definitely do not want another Emergency Room—leading to surgery—visit for anyone in my family. Looking for some inspiration, I turned on the TV, which I soon realized was a dumb move, as I scrolled through the barren waste land of TV entertainment. Then, just before I switched it back off, there was a fleeting mention of Republican caucuses in Iowa.

Yes, it is that time again-- presidential election time. This is when politicians act like pre-schoolers. They run from state to state and city to city, raising their hands in the air, bouncing up and down, full of excitement and energy, saying, “Ooohh ohhhh, pick me! Pick me!” This behavior is especially evident at this early point in the presidential race, the time known as primary season. When politicians are not in the midst of campaigning, they are acting like Junior High students. Trying to impress members of the opposite gender, assessing their place in the world, and being chauffeured from place to place.

The first official primary is held in New Hampshire. The state has written and passed a law that they will hold the first primary of the presidential elections. This, to me, was an amazing revelation on self-determination. I have decided to use that same concept while waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. I will boldly tell the clerk that I passed a law so that I will now be first in line. How liberating and simple.

But, what about Iowa. They just had a republican primary kind of thing just before the New Hampshire primaries. How did they get away with that? I researched this and found out that Iowa does not actually have a primary-- they have a caucus.  One problem solved and another created. What is a caucus? A caucus is just like a primary, only different. The word caucus is an Americanism derived from the Greek word kaukos, which means to drink and first appears around 1755.  This is probably because most political gatherings were held in pubs, where people drank and boisterously debated about whom they would support in the next election, leading to the term, “Raucous caucus.”

Republicans in Iowa caucus just like it was a primary, with everyone showing up to polling places to vote. The Democrats have a much more complicated process, involving huddling around signs with the name of their chosen candidates and belittling each other for making such poor choices. If not enough people huddle around a particular candidate’s name, they have to disband and move to a different candidate’s sign. I saw the formula that is used to set that threshold and quickly realized I should have paid more attention to my Calculus professor in college.

With Iowa and New Hampshire behind this budding class of preschoolers…errm, politicians, now the stumping really begins as they hustle across the country, shaking hands and extolling their own virtues, and saying, “Pick me!” An interesting item to note regarding the origin of stumping. I believe it comes from our first president George Washington, who chopped down his father’s cherry tree, leaving a stump. When confronted with the stump, George replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie.” This is likely the last time a politician has not told a lie.

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