News Release

Iowa Caucuses: What’s Democracy Got to Do With It?

BETTY AHRENS
Program director for the Iowa Citizen Action Network, Ahrens said: “There’s really a wealth primary, we’ve already determined who the favorites are — largely based on how much money they’ve raised. The caucuses enable participants to introduce resolutions to the party platforms; they are debated and voted on. We have developed a resolution which calls for comprehensive campaign finance reform that 700 people have committed to introducing in their caucus on Monday night. This will send a strong message to elected officials and the political parties that Iowans are fed up with the current system and want comprehensive reform.”
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RON WALTERS
Author of “Black Presidential Politics” and professor of government at the University of Maryland, Walters said: “Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of the country as a whole; they are 98 percent white. While they have poor people, most of the language coming out of the campaign has been targeted at white, middle class voters. An exception was the debate on race between Gore and Bradley. Since these states are not very representative, there have been occasions when candidates have done very well early on, but the rest of the country has not embraced them.”

SALLY HERRIN
Communications director for the Nebraska Farmers Union, Herrin said: “Iowa is an agricultural state, so every politician going through there now says that he’s a friend of the farmer. But the major candidates — Democrats and Republicans alike — all back current U.S. trade policy which is devastating the American farmer, while lining the pockets of the big agribusiness firms — many of which are major campaign contributors. Rural America is going through its worst period since the Great Depression, but the candidates aren’t really addressing these issues in a serious way.”

JOHN C. BERG
Professor of government at Suffolk University, Berg said: “Every four years we look to the political activists of two small rural states to guide us in our choice of presidential candidates — that would be bad enough, but it’s a myth. The reality is that most of the potential candidates have already been forced out of the campaign by the choices of fat-cat contributors. The defenders of Iowa and New Hampshire say we need this undemocratic process in order to narrow the field of candidates. But there is a much better way. We should adopt a single, nationwide primary, for any party that wants to hold a primary, using the ‘instant runoff vote.’ This system would let citizens vote for the candidates they prefer and nominate the candidates closest to the preferences of a majority of the voters.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167