Democrats, don’t kid yourselves. An elite Establishment controls the Iowa Democratic Party, and they simply don’t like primaries. Nominating candidates is so old school. The Establishment prefers coronations. It’s less messy. And it’s less expensive, saving limited Establishment dollars for essentials like yachts, trips to the Caribbean and that new Lexus your trust-fund kid so desperately needs.
Coronations happen in two ways:
One. Establishment Democrats wait until a day or two before the filing deadline to announce that an elected official is retiring, so potential challengers unacceptable to the Establishment have no time to collect the signatures needed to qualify. This happens more often than you think. (Two cases from a few years back that come to mind are the retirements of State Representatives Wayne Ford and Elesha Gayman.)
Two. The Establishment picks a “safe” candidate, one who won’t rock the boat if elected, one who may pay lip service to challenging the Corporate Elite, but won’t push for systemic reform. The Establishment gets the corporate-owned media to tout the candidate as the inevitable nominee, and hammer away at the “fact” that this candidate is so strong, so likely to win in November that no sensible Democrat would challenge them. Meanwhile, they pump loads of money and hype into the “race.” If any upstart Democrats threaten to jump in, they discourage them with every means available, including threats and even bribes. When the chosen candidates get their clock cleaned in November, the Establishment just says, “Well, it was a Republican year.”
Two of the most important races in Iowa this year involved coronations: Bruce Braley and Staci Appel. If Braley and Appel had been tested in a primary, perhaps they would have been prepared to fend off the attacks of the virtually unknown Republicans who beat them, who are now on their way to Washington, DC. (And in case you think the coronation problem is strictly a Democratic malaise, how many of you remember the perceived inevitably of Jim Ross Lightfoot in 1998 and Jim Nussle in 2006? Former Governors Vilsack and Culver remember – and they both had primaries.)
Of course, the coronation thing is not just a state problem. It’s a national one. Right now, both the Iowa and national Establishment Democrats are beating the drums for the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee for President. Don’t let them do it! Regardless of how you feel about Clinton, insist on a good, hearty multiple-candidate nominating process. That’s one thing the Republicans got right in 2012, although most of their candidates were . . . how do I say it politely . . . extremists? As 2016 approaches, a slew of Republican presidential wannabes are already making their intentions known. Democratic contenders better do the same, and they better start soon.
IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS!! The next step in the Fossil Fuel Industry’s push to build the Bakken Oil Pipeline is a series of eighteen public hearings. View the complete list here on the Iowa Sierra Club’s website. Please come to at least one of these hearings, scheduled for December 1, 2, 3, 4, 15 and 16. And spread the word. If built, this pipeline will further exacerbate climate change, condemn a whole lot of prime farmland, and result in inevitable spills and water-quality problems.