Monday, November 12, 2007

The Iowa Caucus: putting Caucus back into Caucasian

Or "Why the fuck does what people in Iowa think about the candidates matter to the country in general?". The rhetoric whenever the Iowa Caucus comes up is that Iowa uniquely represents the United States because it embodies true American values, like the idea of small town life and of small scale democracy, the democracy of town meetings. Of hard working religious citizens. Who happen to be mostly white. And not just white but the whitest of the white, with 71% of people identifying as either English, Irish, German, "American", or Norwegian. According to the U.S. Census Iowa is 94.9% white. It also has just under three million people, which is smaller than the Detroit area of Michigan alone, which is where I'm from. In fact, according to the Census Iowa is the fifth whitest state in the country, with its fellow brother in bellwether New Hampshire ranking as the third whitest. Similarly, it ranks 39th in African American population in terms of percentage, with New Hampshire ranking 43rd. As for education Iowa ranks 37th in terms of the percentage of people who have bachelors degrees--well below the United States as a whole. New Hampshire ranks pretty high on that scale, probably because of its status as a semi-bedroom community to Massachusetts.

Yet if candidates don't show well in Iowa and New Hampshire they're expected to drop out of the race due to a perceived unelectability. Might as well hold them in Northern Idaho.

Does Iowa represent Chicago, New York, L.A., Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, in terms of ethnic and racial composition, to say nothing of smaller metro areas? Is preserving the weight of this notion of average America appropriate when Americans, taken on average, don't resemble it at all?

I'm glad Obama's polling high in Iowa, but I suspect his family has no plans to move there any time soon.

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