Election, 2016: I Want To Soar Like a Hawkeye
Donald Trump speaking at a CPAC meeting in Washington DC; image by Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons
The gospel song popularized by Satchmo concludes, "O Lord, I want to be in that number/When the Saints go marching in".*
Well, who doesn't? But before I bite the earthly dust, I have another wish in mind. As improbable as it sounds, I'm thinking of moving to Iowa. Then when the 2016 presidential campaign officially kicks into high gear early next year, and carloads of candidates come to court the Iowa caucus crowd, I'm going to be in their number/When the votes come rolling in.
Why would I choose to migrate to the Hawkeye State in the dead of winter when I live in one known for its benign climate? During presidential campaigns, Californians have become increasingly ignored by candidates of all political persuasions. Nobody of importance bothers to venture out here to press the flesh. No hopefuls or incumbents tickle my social calendar by inviting me to festive community feeds of finger-lickin' chicken or bowls of hot chili. I never receive invitations to warm up with a hot toddy and double-fudge brownies in some supporter's cozy kitchen. Nor does anyone bother to invite me to a hoe-down at a big barn tricked out with redolent bales of new-mown hay and punch bowls sparkling with tangy apple cider.
Sadly, the best that politicians seem able to do by way of soliciting my vote at election time is to clutter up my mailbox with glossy fliers. How am I supposed to feed my political soul on that?
The reason for their ambivalence toward me is painfully obvious. These days, election outcomes in the Golden State are rarely in doubt. Though California enjoys a hefty number of votes in the Electoral College, it is long past its desirability as a politically 'purple' entity, meaning a balanced mix of Republican red and Democrat blue. As a result, its citizens no longer enjoy the status of a game-changing 'swing state' vital in determining the election of the next president. Those more politically balanced states get duly noticed, though not on the same scale as Iowa, the first primary of the election season.
Sure, wealthy states like California and New York may attract politicians to fund- raisers, but the rank and file voters are largely taken for granted. As a result, I rather doubt that most residents, particularly those in crowded urban areas, even know who is running for public office. When the election outcome is preordained, residents often get the discouraged feeling that their vote doesn't even matter.
Despite this phenomenon, there are still those of us who yearn for a good, healthy political contest, along with a candidate-sponsored — if not-so-healthy — community-style breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits, pancakes and syrup to help the electioneering go down easy. Unfortunately, all we can expect to get fed around here between now and November 3, 2016 are countless servings of the same strident campaign ads on TV.
So is there any wonder I feel a twinge of jealousy when I tune into footage showing candidates of both parties busting their buttons to sway Iowa voters as the political season gets officially underway? Trust me, I'm well aware that Iowa is like a deep freeze in the month of February. But is that any worse than being frozen out of the electoral process altogether?
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