- I get that it’s frustrating that the Iowa caucus results have been delayed. But everyone should take it easy and remember – you’ll get your results soon enough.
- The unhinged discourse around the delay is fuelling conspiracies and is much worse than the delay itself.
- It’s distracting from the important things we can actually take from this – like how candidates are reacting to the delay and how we can improve the system.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Supposedly, we’ll get a bulk of the results of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus around 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon. Less than 24 hours after the the caucus even started.
It has been a torturous window of time, and for that I blame not Iowa, not the Democratic National Committee, not any of the candidates – for that I blame all of the social media snarkers, the reporters grasping for something to say, the conspiracy theorists, the internet must-outragers and commenters on all things.
The need to have an immediate take or quip, some knee jerk stew of outrage and cynicism, is adding an immense amount of tension to something that really isn’t that out of the ordinary.
We’ve had delays in getting election results in America – and even in Iowa – before. Previous election results have been delayed by hanging chads, and the 2012 Republican Iowa caucus took over two weeks to decide before the result was flipped from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum. I hope you are sitting down.
Obviously, this caucus-app-delay-nonsense shouldn’t be repeated. Yes, it is silly that we have no totals at all. But this is also – at the very most – an annoyance.
From what I recall our country’s hive mind of political junkies and practitioners did not have a collective meltdown the last time there was a delay. But of course, back then our discourse wasn’t nearly as aggressive. We didn’t have an election with stakes this high, or a social media with culture this toxic.
And so, instead of taking those merciful few hours of peace before breaking news broke us again to say, read a book or take a walk or – given the hour – just go to sleep, the news networks, horse-race politics media, and the far-too-online political commentators decided to engage in the following ridiculous behaviour:
- Claim that this delay would force party bosses to push the Iowa caucus later in the calendar year.
- Claim that this is (or might as well be) a conspiracy against their candidate or questioning the integrity of the results. Two ideas which I’m sure Republicans are delighted to allow the public to continue engaging with throughout this election. (Given the paper trail and public nature of the caucuses, these concerns are foolish.) https://twitter.com/LindseyGrahamSC/status/1224722983152947200?ref_src=twsrc^tfw
- Call for the ouster of the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez.
- Blame Obama.
- Question if the journalists who covered the events may feel stupid for doing their jobs because they didn’t see the outcome immediately. (A reminder: Covering events is not a birthday after which a journalist gets a present. It’s a job.)
A reminder to these people and anyone else in a tizzy over the delay: it hasn’t been 24 hours yet. For the love of God, keep yourselves together. We will have a Democratic nominee, it may not even be the person who wins this caucus.
Plus the nonsense is taking away from the more important things we should be focusing on at a time like this. It matters how candidates are reacting to the delay, and it matters what knowledgeable people say about how we can improve this process going forward. That’s just about it. All of the conspiracy mongering and hot take throwing is only serving to confuse people outside the internet hive mind and to undermine public trust.
I understand that this is an incredibly tense moment. Donald Trump is loathed by virtually all Democrats adding to the stress, waiting is hard, the public is used to the constant adrenaline of the exhausting news cycle – some of you have become junkies, admit it – and it is a Tuesday in one of the worst months of the year, February.
But there are nine months of this election left. There will be time aplenty for Democrats to tear themselves apart over things far more meaningful than a delay. There will be results from Iowa. Everyone chill and watch Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl halftime show again or something, you’re bumming me out.
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