Excuse me for being British, but the media circus whipped up over this impending Iowa Caucus is just too baffling for words. I’m a simple guy. For me, democracy means electing a national leader by choosing which candidate is best, and then voting for him, or her.

So why all the hysteria over Iowa?

200,000 voters cast their ballot in Iowa. That’s around 0.1% of the US voting population (in rough figures), so why is Iowa so important to the presidential election to be held in nearly a year’s time?

The answer, of course, is that it isn’t.

Iowa is a dull, flat, uninteresting place that gets stinking hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. It’s populated by rural farmers who have very little to do these long winter nights, so are happy to spend one of them playing a political party-game with half the world’s media hanging on their every action.

So important to presidential politics is the Iowa Caucus that many of the major players won’t even be there. Giuliani is in New Hampshire, and names like Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson are never mentioned.

So why all the fuss?

I’ve reached the conclusion it’s all part of the mass media entertainment process. Americans are totally bored with life. Outside of the major cities like New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and others, there is absolutely nothing to do except eat and watch ballgames on TV. This country is so huge it’s not possible to take a day out and visit a scenic beauty spot, or the beach. The American Heartland is just one vast, flat, expanse of fields punctuated by the occasional township.

There’s no point driving to another town for the day, as the one you arrive at will be identical to the one you left. Each will have its Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney clothing store, Sears hardware and general store, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and a few other national chain stores, a host of protestant churches of every conceivable denomination, one Catholic church, and a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. If it’s a biggish town there may be a social security office, a post office, and a library. Each town has its own water tower with the town name painted on it in big letters. This is useful, as given the similarities, it is often the only way to be sure you’re in the right place.

The Heartland of America, of which Iowa is a part, extends for thousands of miles in each direction. There are no beauty spots in the American Heartlands, unless that is, huge cornfields give you an orgasm. There is very little entertainment. Outside of Chicago, there are no major theaters, opera houses, art galleries, stately homes, or grand places of interest worthy of one’s perusal.

To the average Heartland American, ‘culture’ is the Sunday night ballgame, followed by a Giant MacBurger with double fries and a large Coke. After spending five years in the Heartland, I’ve found the words ‘entertainment’ and ‘internment’ to have remarkably similar meanings.

After a hard day at work, the average Heartland American finds his only amusement from cable television. With top ten favorites like ‘American Idol’, ‘Heroes’, and ’24’ to go at, Heartland’s America is spoiled for choice, and should these shows eventually pall there’s always a stormy disaster somewhere on the ‘Weather Channel’, or a fanatical preacher on any one of twenty other cable sources, to raise the adrenalin level and remind us life in the Heartlands is a truly wondrous experience.

Good, reliable, stalwarts of the American media like NBC, ABC, CBS, and XYZ, always determined to keep the needs of the viewer above that of the sponsors, delight in providing the occasional diversion from their otherwise bounteous selection of programs, by adding the odd titbit of additional delight to titillate the audience and remind us what amazing corporate creations they truly are.

What better festival of delight to lift our post-holiday blues than the rampant excitement of the Iowa Caucus?

Americans throughout the Heartlands are consumed by election fever, knuckles blanched from gripping their settee arms, as Iowan farmers and their families decide the fate of the nation in one night of white-hot, voting passion.

And in the unlikely event you happen to fall asleep and miss it, there’s no need to feel overwrought. Just wait six days and they’ll air the repeat – in New Hampshire.

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7 Replies to “Iowa”

  1. Another baffled Brit checking in! What is going on in Iowa today sounds almost mediaeval! I suppose it’s good to honour tradition, and in a way that’s what they seem to be doing. As long as the result doesn’t carry a lot of weight in the minds of the rest of the population, not a lot of harm can be done. MSM are having a field day – all no doubt on company expenses. Saves them the trouble of writing about REALLY important matters for a few days.

    The Heartland is a peculiar term isn’t it RJ? It’s not really in the heart of the nation, it’s more top right-hand side. Oklahoma doesn’t qualify – we’re in a kind of no-man’s land, neither west, south or Heartland. We’re fortunate to be reasonably close to lovely Colorado and New Mexico for scenic beauty. My husband is a native Kansan and he confirms your opinion of the Heartland – as I read your post to him he chuckled and nodded throughout!

  2. I’m baffled up here in the Great White North also. It is like a sports event, layers and layers of playoffs. There is nothing weighty or serious about it at all – as there should be judging by the horrors the current inhabitant has wrought.
    A few strong buzz words thrown around – CHANGE HOPE coupled with frenzied cheering, flagwaving, etc. How can the rest of us take America seriously – knowing in our hearts that all of it can be thrown over by a bought and paid for Supreme Court? I mean they believe they’re all taking part in a democratic process but the rest of us know they’re not. So all this hoopla makes for a brain bleed for me, for one. It is like watching a really, really horrible movie.
    And ye gads, HUCKABEE???? HUCKABEE???? Wouldn’t he be certifiable in any other country in the world?

  3. Twilight – your husband sounds a great sport. Some may have taken offense. The ‘Heartlands’ is indeed a strange name for this area. I guess it’s because most of America’s agricultural production is centered here. I remember discussing the subject in an earlier post when Sparrow Chat was still on Blogger, and I suggested that, if the US ever needed an enema, the tube would require inserting in Illinois. Perhaps, not so much the ‘Heartlands’, then?

    TOB – they couldn’t cope with cocker spaniels. Far too intelligent a breed for Iowa. 😉

    WWW – Huck’s a ‘hick’ from Arkansas. Have you seen his tax reform plans? They’re horrific! A CNN reporter said this morning that Huckabee was liked because ‘he didn’t talk like a politician, but as an ordinary person’. Isn’t that what America liked about George W Bush back in 2000? Americans would rather have a Joe Thicko in the job than a professional, it seems. Will they never learn?

  4. Personally, I’d choose a Jack Russell, but, heck, I’d pick a cockapoo for the last 7 1/2 years. Most of them don’t drink.

  5. Flimsy – wouldn’t it be much simpler to let each party choose its own leader, and then the public decide which party leader they want as president? Political parties in other countries, who use this system, take great care to choose a leader they believe will do well in a general, or presidential, election. Or is this just too simple for the average American psyche to grasp?

    Jerry – Mickey Mouse would have made a better job of the last 7 1/2 years. One of the problems with today’s candidates is they all look good by comparison with the present incumbent.

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