A Tiny, Flaccid Caucus

This whole Iowa situation is a hoot.  Depending on which “conspiracy theory” you believe, the fix has been in for quite some time.  Not holding the impeachment acquittal vote on Friday, some say, was largely the Party’s way of tying up Bernie (and, to a lesser extent, Warren) in Washington, so that Sundown Joe Biden would have Iowa to himself in the last few days before the caucus.  Personally, I think it has much more to do with denying Trump the ability to brag about his exoneration at tonight’s State of the Union address, but like the man says, embrace the power of “and,” buddy.

And then there’s the squashed Des Moines Register poll.  Talk about a convoluted, lame excuse!  As pretty much everyone said the minute they heard this, I guess Bernie must’ve been winning yuuuuge.  Here again, the exact motivation is unclear.  Did they squash it to hurt Bernie, to help Warren, or to hide Slow Joe’s collapse?  And here again, we’re invited to embrace the power of “and.”  Whatever the real reason, the stated excuse — that some pollster in Iowa City couldn’t properly pronounce “Buttigieg” — is laughable.

Speaking of Buttigieg, then there’s the fact that this app Iowans have so much trouble with — hilariously named “Shadow” — was apparently heavily supported by Pete’s people.  No, really.  And with links to Hillary, too, because you can’t have a hilariously complicated fiasco of a caper without Herself involved somehow.  That alone should tell you that however it turns out, a three card monte game has a better chance of being on the level than the Iowa Democratic caucus.  All we’re missing at this point is Al Franken’s car… and it’s probably heading down the highway, Christine-style, as we speak.

To the historically literate, this raises one simple, obvious question: Why do they even bother?

There’s a word for all this: caesarism.  It means “maintaining the sham of representative government — candidates, elections, debates, and so forth — while a not-so-secret cabal of bigshots actually runs things.”  Named after its first practitioner, of course, but that’s just the thing…. even the Caesars didn’t bother with caesarism after a few decades.  Unless you’re a field specialist, there’s no meaningful difference between the Principate and the Dominate.  Even Augustus, the first princeps of the Principate, pretty much stopped making “republican” noises at the end; Nero et al hardly bothered to start.  Still, even if we grant that the “Principate” made a grand show of “republicanism,” they stopped in just over 200 years.  That’s the blink of an eye, historically speaking, especially considering the pace of change in the ancient world.  200 years for them is like 20 years for us.  So…. why do we bother?

Frankly, it beats my pair of jacks.  I’m guessing that they actually won’t bother for too much longer — it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Party hacks simply anointing their preferred candidate in Milwaukee this summer, “primary” results be damned.  In which case, let me be the first to say “Welcome back, Hillary!!,” but it hardly matters.  When it happens — when, that is, the last vague pretense of a sham of “democracy” is finally put to sleep — most Americans’ reaction will be blissful relief.  What the hell took y’all so long?

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5 thoughts on “A Tiny, Flaccid Caucus

  1. contrariandutchman

    The Romans continued to have consuls and a senate and many other republican offices until the Empire fell, and then the Byzantines continued with them for a few centuries more. Compare the situation of monarchies in Europe where hereditary kings still rule in name but certainly not in practice. When systems of governance evolve it is hard to remove the forms of the old system and not worth anyone’s bother, so they continue. Only radical revolution introduces formal new forms.

    Comparing the US to Rome the US is well into the dominate period already.

  2. Pickle Rick

    I don’t think that the “democratic” (small d) method of selecting candidates we suffer under today is all that enshrined in American politics for very long. Lincoln certainly wasn’t nominated in this excruciating process. Shady back room deals have been the norm.

  3. Vizzini

    most Americans’ reaction will be blissful relief. What the hell took y’all so long?

    Yep. Finally we can get what the Z Man calls “the people’s avenger” up and running.

  4. Publius

    You could make a good argument – and in fact, historians have – that Caligulia wasn’t so much crazy as bored with the whole pretense. His real sin wasn’t nailing his sister (which he probably didn’t even do), or naming his horse consul (which sounds like the greatest example of trolling in the ancient world), but quoting Agamemnon’s longing for “one king and lord” and playing with Pharonaic imagery (he’s the one that brought Cleopatra’s needle to Rome). His talk of open monarchy scared the Senators, so they had him wacked in the hope that they’d clear the whole mess out. Instead they got Claw-Claw, who played the part Augustus set reasonably enough, and by the time Nero gets shivved it’s too late. Three generations are used to autocracy by now, so we get the first (but by no means the last) Open Call for Emperors, and by the time anyone’s ready to go Pharonaic again two hundred years have gone by and we can’t remember the last time an Emperor died in his bed.

    Little Boots wasn’t the Messiah, but he may have been a prophet.

  5. MBlanc46

    It’s their party and they can do what they want to. It beggars belief that they would allow someone who is not a Democrat—forty years in politics and never ran as a Dem until he decided to run for president—to participate in their selection process. By what standard are primaries superior to smoke-filled rooms? But, but elections are democratic and fair and smoke-filled rooms are just a bunch of cishet white males. Smoking in a public place! Anyone who’s lived in a Dem-run city knows how “fair” elections are. I grew up in what, sixty years ago, billed itself as the most Repub county in the country (it’s had a Dem congresscritter for the past couple of terms), and there was graveyard voting there too. No ones hands are clean in electoral politics. The fruits and nuts have been the ascendent in the Dem party for decades. Sooner or later they’re going to become the bosses. That time might be now. And if you want to see some knock-down-drag-out-ear-biting-eye-gouging politics, just wait for the Repubs in 2024 if President Trump is re-elected.

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