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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Paying to Play

If you wanna win it, ya gotta be financing it. That's the story behind the upcoming Iowa Straw Poll that Republican candidates are, to a man, looking forward to this Saturday. Although it costs Iowans $35 to participate in the poll at Iowa State University, GOP presidential hopefuls will be handing out thousands of free tickets to get people in and cast their ballots. This, of course, is Republican politics as its base: Buying votes.

The poll takes on the flavor of a state fair, without the giant pumpkins, squash and charm. And although there won't be any pigs there to be judged, there will be a herd of elephants attempting to purchase votes.

How will Iowans who wish to participate get to Ames to have their voices heard? Be sure that the GOP candidates themselves will make sure that their people are there from all over the state to raise their hands for their guy. In past years, candidates would actually bus people in from nearby states to participate. That's no longer allowed. After all, it is IOWA's Straw Poll, isn't it?

And there will be food and fun at the Iowa-GOP Straw Poll fair as well. According to the Washington Post, Candidate George W. Bush paid $43,500 for a good spot to display his misinformation and an additional $62,000 for pulled pork sandwiches. It's said that counting barbeque stained hands determined the winner that day in 1999.

And today it's Mitt Romney who's making the promises.

"music, barbecue and a whole lot of fun at our tent"
-The Romney for President web site

Oh boy! Can I come too. Mitt?

Who benefits the most from this Straw Poll? Why it's the Iowa State Republican Party does, of course. All proceeds go right to them.

"The Iowa straw poll was devised as a fundraising gimmick for the state party and nothing more than that."
-a former Iowa State GOP finance chairman

How exactly does that work out legally, one might ask? After all,. most states preclude national candidates for office from contributing to state parties because they don't want federal issues to take precedence over state issues. Look at the trouble caused by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his various PAC's as they broke Texas' versions of those laws. One wonders if someone might look into that, considering the amount of money coming right out of the candidates coffers for this state-wide gathering.

But, what they hey, these are the GOP "base" of "haves and have mores", so what's a few million dollars mean to them anyway?

The Poll has become the barometer for the campaign financing and future fiscal viability of the candidates, so they have to take this "buy-a-vote" poll seriously. But, make no mistake about it, it is rent-a-vote at its best.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to Madman's picture from a third world nation Emergency Room, Victoria Brownworth writes:

Obviously you haven't been to an American ER anytime recently. With the exception of the beautiful hats and capes on the people sitting there, it already looks like the graphic in the Tuesday Madman. The hope is that if a Democrat wins things might actually get better.

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-Noah Greenberg