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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Iowan Imbalance

Long version: mp3, 3.23 MBs, 3:54
Short version: mp3, 2.28 MBs, 2:45

Bonus Cut: Noelle Hanrahan asking Mumia where he learned broadcast skills:
mp3, 1.07 MBs, 1:20

[Col. Recorded 1/20/04]

The Iowa caucuses are history, and amazingly, they have shaped, and indeed, re-shaped the nature of the Democratic presidential primaries already.

'Amazing,' because, when one considers the size of the state, not to mention the demographics, it can only be 'amazing' that such a place has such an outsized impact on a nation of almost 300-million people.

If the United States were stacked like books on the floor, with the top one representing the State with the largest population (California, incidentally), 29 states would be
perched atop Iowa.

Similarly, if one were to rate the States according to whiteness, Iowa would be the 5th whitest State in America.

New Hampshire, the next site of the campaign, is even whiter! (As is Gov. Dean's adopted state, Vermont).

Yet, Iowa, with all its rural charm, and rustic beauty, has had an impact. Gov. John Dean, the heralded front- runner several weeks ago, is tumbling towards 4th place, and Senators John Kerry (Mass-D.) and John Edwards (N.C.-D.), are soaring from their Iowa showings. What is also 'amazing', is that the caucuses, which represent the
voting preferences of 100,000 to perhaps 120,000 people, represents just under 4.5% of the state's population, and may yet determine who becomes the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

Some researchers have determined that the much- reported "momentum" coming out of the Iowa caucuses are largely illusory. According to a recent report in the *Washington Post* (Jan. 5-11, 2004 [weekly]) a study of 10 contested nominations from both parties, dating from 1980, shows that either a first or a second-place finish in Iowa did virtually nothing to improve the statistical chances at winning. What was far more important, according to an American Political Science Association report (Aug. '03 Convention-Phila.), what mattered most was the top fundraiser's identity, and where one stood in the polls before the presidential year (p. 4).

Further, this early in the game, few audiences are really focusing on the 'pre-elections' and caucuses, other than political reporters, pollsters, campaign activists and big-money donors. The grassroots are still in slumber.

What this means, of course, is that the process is increasingly antidemocratic (despite its name).

It means that the very few (less than 5%!) determines the candidates for the many.

One can call that process anything one wants to call it; but 'democratic' shouldn't be used.

Such tiny, almost lily-white states as Iowa have enormous influence on all of the caucuses and primaries to come, because the system is hopelessly front-loaded with such states (only South Carolina breaks this mold —and DC was ignored).

So pivotal was Iowa, that Sen. Richard Gephardt, who ran ostensibly as labor's candidate (and pitched his tent around trade issues) has departed the pack, and according to press reports, will relinquish his Senate seat soon, as well. Indeed,
Gephardt's prior try for the White House tells the tale, for he won Iowa when he ran in 1988, but his 'momentum' didn't last long (Bush, the 1st, and Quayle won that year).

And here we are again, in the grips of a process where whiteness is the prized political characteristic, and it easily excludes millions of people of color, and a repeat performance is set for New Hampshire.

In a system where the Electoral College actually determines who wins and who loses (remember 2000?), and therefore, where small states have a disproportionate impact
on the election process, this front-loading system seems to be a double barrier to real democracy.

The system still favors those it has ever favored — those with the most money, get the best chances to run the country for their class.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2004 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.