Has anyone else been enjoying our U.S. version of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party like I have?
We’re still over a year away from our next presidential election, and the race for the Oval Office is underway in a more-than-usually insane fashion.
The formidable British Medical Journal once published an article suggesting the Mad Hatter (a character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) may have been suffering from mercury poisoning since mercury was used in the making of hats in Victorian Britain. The article made about as much sense as our current style of choosing a president.
Would you sell your vote for $30?
Apparently, that’s what a lot of folks did in the Iowa Straw Vote. It was a fund-raising gimmick devised by the Republican Party to upstage the forthcoming Iowa Caucus, which politicians — back to Jimmy Carter’s days — have chosen to upstage the staid, old New Hampshire Primary on the way to the White House.
Iowans aren’t dumb farmers. They live in one of the world’s most literate and well-educated states. And, they are not against making a buck or two although, like the good farmers they are, they always complain that things are not going well.
After Carter taught them the value of going public with their caucuses, making up a straw poll was just another logical step towards cashing in on the moneymaking potential of presidential politics.
No one knew who Jimmy Carter was, and no one outside of Iowa had ever heard of the Iowa Caucus before “Jimmy Who,” (as one fellow from Atlanta described the former Georgia governor to me), romped around the Hawkeye State and stirred up enough media attention to put him on a successful path to the White House.
Iowans have fond memories of those days when they rose from political obscurity to the front pages, but it is an overstatement of the case. Carter, who got his name in front of the public by using Iowa as a launching pad, didn’t win the Oval Office on the strength of his character and political skills alone.
He ran against the only never-elected president this country ever had, Gerald Ford, who stepped up to the plate after Richard Nixon became the only president to ever resign the office. Ford, of course, was a Republican and made the mistake of pardoning Nixon for his illegal acts that thoroughly disgraced the GOP. I contend that pardon enticed enough voters to cross the line and cast their ballot for Carter.
The Mad Hatter could have beaten Ford in that one; Carter has gone down in history as an easily forgettable president that ranks right down there with James Buchanan and Millard Fillmore.
What was so funny about the Iowa Straw Vote the Republicans dreamed up was that it cost you $30 to cast a ballot. How many of those votes in this poll that lacked any scientific validity do you suppose were bought?
Any rules or laws pertaining to proper voting did not govern this farce of an opening gambit in the race to the White House. The candidate that raised the most money and could buy the most votes was destined to win.
A so-called “Debate” among Republican hopefuls was held in Iowa just days before the straw vote. And with the big Iowa State Fair in full swing, the world’s media flocked to both and gave its questionable stamp of validation to the process.
When the smoke cleared, the whole show turned out to be a battle between a Minnesota Governor and a Congresswoman, over which was the most conservative. Both come from a state that has been so liberally democratic over the years, that conservatism means not much more than just turning to face the middle of the road.
Any of the potential Republican candidates who took part in the Iowa debate, and spoke suggesting any common sense approaches to solving the economic crisis the country is facing, were simply stuffed down the memory hole and ignored by the media.
Not to be outdone by the Republicans, Democratic President Barrack Obama decided to do a bus tour of the Midwest roaring through the country with his entourage, to preach the gospel of saving the country his style.
Riding the Canadian Armored Stagecoach
While preaching the need for creating more American jobs, Obama overlooked the fact that the brand-new, armored shiny buses (the Secret Service name for the Prez’s bus is Stagecoach according to the media) had actually been custom-ordered by the U.S. Treasury Department from Canada by Prevost to the tune of a couple million dollars — money extracted, of course, from the American taxpayer. [Note: customization of the bus was done by a US Supplier. Ed.)
And, if that wasn’t a big enough oversight, the Prez announced he was considering founding a new Department of Jobs to tackle the task of putting Americans back to work. Overlooking the fact that we already have a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Labor. That Department annually pumps billions of taxpayer dollars downstream to 50 corresponding state agencies which operate job markets to help people find work.
Tell me it all doesn’t resemble the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. And while you’re at it, pass me another cup of tea. Hold the mercury, please!
Dave Whitney is a retired journalist and adventurer who has won many writing awards. He was born and raised in central Ohio, attended school in Missouri, served in the US Army Security Agency, and migrated to Florida a half-century ago. Author of four books, he is a former Associated Press writer/editor and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize during his writing career. As editor and founder of the Free Press newspapers in the Florida Keys, he was the first publisher to pick up Frank Kaiser’s “Suddenly Senior” column when it entered syndication. Whitney currently resides in Lakeland, Fla., after living 25 years in the Florida Keys.
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