As I watch the coverage of the Iowa straw poll, I can't help once again feeling incredibly annoyed with the political process.
I live in California. Our population is over 37 million, representing 12% of the total US population. Indeed, if we were a separate country, our population would be larger than that of all but the 34 biggest countries in the world! We're responsible for 13% of US GDP. Indeed, if we were a separate country, we'd be the 7th largest economy in the world. We produce cutting edge technology, world class wine, and much of the nation's food crop. We ought to matter. And yet, we're virtually irrelevant to American politics other than as source of money that candidates then go spend in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Iowa? A population of less than 3 million, that at 96+% white is utterly unrepresentative of the country as a whole? A state of which Dave Barry wrote:
If you're looking for a vacation travel destination that blends excitement with huge amounts of corn, I strongly recommend Iowa. I recently spent a few days there, and I can honestly say that it was comparable to experiences I've had in sophisticated, prestige travel destinations such as Paris, in the sense that I was not once engulfed by hog manure. ... Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that everybody who visits Iowa will be engulfed by manure leaking from storage basins. Some people could also be hit by manure shot from guns. You think I'm making this up, but that is only because you did not read The Wall Street Journal article about the Iowa hog industry, written by Scott Kilman and sent to me by many alert readers. This article states that Iowa's large hog farms have "huge waste lagoons, some emptied by 'manure guns' that fling their cargo through the air onto surrounding fields and occasionally onto passing cars."
Joke: What's considered a solid hour's reading in Iowa? The back of a cereal box.
New Hampshire? Smaller than Iowa. Whiter than Iowa. And, as Alexander Theroux once observed, " is literally shaped like a dunce cap."
South Carolina? The birthplace of secession? A state of which it has been justly said that:
Throughout American history, South Carolinians have led the fight to preserve and defend slavery, white supremacy, racial segregation, and race fear. South Carolina is the soul of the Confederacy. It is safe to say that South Carolina gave birth to Dixie, so much so that it is a matter of pride to many South Carolinians that their state was the first to secede from the Union and that Citadel cadets fired the first shot of the Civil War.
How is it that we persist in allowing these unrepresentative, yahoo infested, pissant states decide who gets to run for President? The notion that the Ames straw poll matters would be preposterous were it not so pernicious.