Iowa kicks off a frightening election

To the editor:

Mark Twain once said "A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom that he can no longer be led by the nose". He might well have been describing the American voter of today.

We have indeed been led by the nose — by the media, the marketers, and the moneyed interests who have turned the political process into a circus. Now the charade continues as the nation obsesses over the results of the Iowa caucuses. Questionable results from flawed processes. Results of voting by a small minority of Iowa's voters, yet touted as the will of the nation.

What is left of the Republican Party reported a total of 186,874 ballots cast at its Iowa caucuses. What goes unmentioned is that this represents only 30 percent of the state's registered Republicans and a mere 9.7 percent of all registered voters in Iowa. Yet Cruz was crowned and Trump sulked while Rubio had plenty to celebrate.

The Democrats, by their best guess after chaotic caucuses, reported 171,109 votes cast — just 30 percent of registered Democrats and only 8.8 percent of the registered voters in the state. But, despite serious controversies and results ending in a virtual tie, the party declared a winner. Clinton appeared to tally a few more votes, but in reality Sanders had a lot more to brag about.


Are the Iowa results blown out of all reasonable proportion? No doubt about it. But are they of great importance? Yes, indeed, for just one reason: America's voters have been conditioned to believe they are. The pundits and the talking heads never stop beating the drums for the early primaries. TV's famous 30-second sound bites feature the candidates' latest absurdities, and the media promote every possible controversy to draw viewers or readers. The parties and the campaigns do their bit by promulgating any lie which might enhance their candidates' prospects.

The carnival politics has become is not without its costs. With its takeover by the extremists of the right, complicated by the Trump candidacy and whatever it stands for, the Republican Party is splintered into several factions, especially if we assume there still is a moderate wing of the party as yet in hiding. It is reasonable to ask if the GOP still exists.

On the Democratic side, the party and the big spenders have preordained that Clinton will be their candidate, but Sanders must now be considered a serious contender. Although the two appear to be battling it out along traditional lines, their positions on the major issues are poles apart, threatening a rift in that party as well.

This nation has faced a solid string of problems since it began, and so far it has overcome — or at least survived — them all. The 2016 election will be the 18th presidential election I have followed with great interest; it is easily the scariest one yet. I can only hope we find a way to put the current mess behind us.

Richard C Henneberry, Canaan, N.Y. Melbourne, Fl.