Iowa was poised to speak, but more Democrat drabness crashed the party. In a Dem presidential primary process that desperately needed some clarity after a long, uninspiring, and mostly inconsequential preliminary season, the first votes were finally cast in the Hawkeye State only to be overshadowed by confusion and disorder.
A frustrating delay in the release of the results by the Iowa Democratic Party added another layer of paralysis to a Dem 2020 dynamic that has lacked genuine spark from the beginning. A smartphone app the party used for reporting of results crashed, and the “backup” systems allegedly in place for such a situation failed to allow for a smooth and timely release, multiple media reports stated.
Everybody Gets a Ribbon
It was hoped that actual voting would better define the pecking order among the three top-tier contenders – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former vice president Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – and the viability of the two main challengers hoping to break into that rank, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Instead, a peeved and overheated media focused on allegations of Iowa party incompetence as the candidates themselves somewhat surreally addressed supporters one after the other. They were armed with absolutely no available election data as they spoke, but, taking Klobuchar’s early cue, each rival proceeded to declare an ill-defined and formulaic “victory” that would allow him or her to move on to the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11. Translation: Nothing has changed. It is the last thing Dems wanted for the evening.
The long delay that chased East Coast Americans to their beds may have been the best thing for Biden, as it watered down the impact of a suspected lackluster showing. Team Sanders was perhaps the most disappointed, as it was counting on a heavily publicized big night to hurl its campaign into a New Hampshire primary that the senator from neighboring Vermont is expected to dominate.
Delusion on Display
Klobuchar and Buttigieg were the candidates most personally invested in Iowa. The two heartland staters have been competing to claim the mantle of “Midwestern Nice” sensible progressive and were counting on good showings to further that storyline. As the hour grew late, Klobuchar and Buttigieg both appeared before boosters and delivered the same standard prefabricated campaign messaging that Dems had been endlessly repeating in too many pre-ballot debates before Iowa. The hollowness of the two aspirants who most needed to capture momentum at the caucuses declaring that they had done so without even knowing the results made for an unreal moment in a party that has had too many of them over the past year. Robert Mueller’s Russia probe went up in smoke. Impeachment of President Trump is turning out to be every bit as big of a fizzle. And here were Democrat presidential candidates claiming victory in a race in which the results had not been posted.
It just made for more empty posturing in a 2020 primary that has already been dominated by too much of it. Even when the harsh reality of voting was finally primed to offer some merciful gravitas, it all descended into soap bubbles once again. How many fiascos can one political party present before the eyes of an entire nation?
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