On August 11, the Republican Party of Iowa will sponsor a fund-raising voting farce event that reeks of the old-time Chicago machine politics of Democratic Mayor Richard Daly of the past. Candidates and campaigns will be busing in their voters and paying the $35 fee to vote, as well as providing food, entertainment, and other gifts to their selected voters. This rigged process will unfortunately have the effect of boosting some candidates who probably don't deserve the exposure and the good PR generated as the news media will loudly proclaim the winner in an event that looks sort of like a first primary event, but certainly is not.
The major GOP candidates, Giuliani, Fred Thompson and McCain are skipping this voting farce, with McCain even calling the event a "scam". But Mitt Romney, as well as the lower tier candidates like Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Tommy Thompson, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and John Cox are actively seeking a good showing to avoid possible political elimination. For Romney, it is a critical test to pole-vault up to the level of support of Giuliani and Thompson, and perhaps a make-or-break event. For the other conservative also-rans, it is an important psychological warfare event to possibly eliminate the other candidates and shore up the support from the right wing of the party, while maverick Ron Paul and religious candidate Mike Huckabee are seeking to cement an image as credible candidates with a real viable effort as an alternative to the major candidates.
This is the paradox of this event. It is certainly a GOP party machine farce on one hand, meant only as sensationalistic fundraiser. But it also raises stakes high enough that some candidates simply cannot fail to attract a decent showing or else risk elimination from the race, although the first real Iowa causas or New Hampshire primary event is months and months away.
It should certainly be hoped that the Democratic Party will avoid ever staging such an similar event. This old fashioned party politics where campaigns pay voters and shower them with gifts is an ugly reminder of the bad old way that things used to be before 1972 where racial minorities used to be exploited at election time by given a small $10 payment to vote and a ride to the polls, and their real concerns ignored the rest of the year by machine politicians.
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