Parlor Game

Beinart, Peter
January 2004
New Republic;1/26/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 2, p6
This article discusses the impact of the Iowa Caucuses on the presidential elections, with specific focus on comments and opinions by Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. As Iowa State journalism professor Dick Haws noted in a perceptive December 30 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, a caucusgoer might not want to publicly defy her union's favored candidate, particularly in a room packed with labor activists. Caucuses don't represent the "centrist tendencies of the American people" because the vast majority of people in a state like Iowa don't participate in them. Appearing on "The Editors" in December 2000, Dean said, "If you look at the caucuses system, they are dominated by special interests in both parties. The special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people. They represent the extremes." The McCain example, however, offers hope. For several elections now, renegade presidential candidates have been defying Iowa. In 1988, Gore charged that the caucuses' prominence "distorts the [nominating] process." In 2000, McCain skipped them altogether. And, this year, Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark are doing the same.


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