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.
Filed under: Too much excitement