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Bridges

Certainly any political process has its flaws.

The reason is simple really: humans are involved and no human is perfect.

Even taking that line of thought into account, what took place last week in Iowa may very well take the cake. The inability to count the vote totals borders on the insane.

In the year 2020 with all of our technological advances it should take hours, not days, for a winner to be declared. Even late last week an official winner was still not known although Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were in a statistical tie for first place.

Instead of the spotlight being on how Buttigieg has risen from an unknown national political figure to winning the Democratic Iowa caucus, we sat and watched that night with no results being reported. Hour after hour went by with no results. None. Zero.

The Iowa Democratic Party then called a press conference for the following day at 4:45 p.m. Of course, by this time all of the candidates had left for New Hampshire and that state’s primary on Feb. 11.

After what had taken place in the hours leading up to the press conference one would have though party officials could have at least started the press conference on time. Even being one minute late added more amazement to those who had followed presidential campaigns for years.

The press conference, which finally started after 5 p.m., saw Iowa Democratic Party officials still reporting only about 60 percent of the vote.

While Republicans laughed and pointed at how Democrats could not even count their votes, it should be noted a fiasco of a different nature took place for the GOP in Iowa in 2012. It’s probably been forgotten by most, but in that event Mitt Romney was actually declared the winner and all the candidates moved on to New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, Iowa GOP officials declared the wrong person the winner. Rick Santorum actually won the Republican Iowa caucus in 2012 after some final vote checks and re-tabulations. By the time that news was announced, however, no one really cared about Iowa, and Romney would eventually win the nomination.

Santorum, who was part of the CNN panel for the 2020 Iowa event, correctly detailed how his campaign was robbed of the momentum it would have received if he had been named the winner. It was a terrible blunder, and it could have easily altered how the GOP primary turned out.

Even in 2020 some political experts say the Democratic Iowa debacle could very well change who the ultimate nominee is. The fact that the mayor of South Bend, Ind., has risen from out of nowhere like he has is really a huge story.

Instead, the story of the Democratic Iowa event was the fact party officials could not tabulate the results.

Iowa clearly does not deserve to have the first-in-the-nation status anymore. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he would like our state to play a more prominent role in the process (Georgia clearly is not in 2020) and that perhaps rotating the first state would be best.

Candidates spend millions upon millions of dollars in Iowa every four years and countless hours campaigning and meeting voters. They deserved better than this, and the citizens of Iowa and across the country deserved better. This is too important of a process for it to be handled like this.

While some tried to give credit to the Iowa Democratic Party for not announcing the wrong results, that in no way smooths this over. It was a disaster of Titanic proportions.

The Iowa GOP also held a caucus last week although it was mostly under the radar. President Trump won 97 percent of the vote and all but one of the delegates.

Bill Weld received 1.5 percent and one delegate. Joe Walsh registered 1.3 percent while other candidates totaled half a percent.

Perhaps the biggest news of the Iowa Republican contest came in the days leading up to the caucus during a gathering where Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois, was speaking.

“I spoke in front of 3,000 Iowa Republicans,” Walsh said. “It was like a MAGA rally. I told them we needed a president who doesn’t lie all the time. The crowd booed me. I told them we need a president who wasn’t indecent and cruel. The crowd booed me.”

Walsh then let his feelings be clearly known the current state of the Republican Party.

“Afterward I realized again that my Republican Party isn’t a party, it’s a cult,” he said. “I realized again that nobody can beat Trump in a Republican primary. And most importantly and most sadly, I realized again that I don’t belong in this party. I have no home in this party.”

Walsh officially ended his presidential campaign late last week leaving no one surprised.

Monticello native Chris Bridges has been a community newspaper journalist for three decades. You can email comments about this column to pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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