So after several months of seemingly endless televised debates, untold millions (in the most literal sense, thanks to the Citizens United ruling, which may gain another opponent in Newt Gingrich) spent in advertising, and more "frontrunners" than you can shake a stick at, the Republicans in Iowa are finally voting. Likely to the great relief of the other 75% of the state's residents who still have a brain, as well as those poor souls who live close to the Iowa border and receive their TV broadcasts. As far as the actual outcome of the caucuses, I could care less about which yahoo ekes out a narrow plurality, but am interested to see how many candidates read too much into the results and drop out because of them. Then I will have to mentally prepare to weather all the advertising that will be directed at Minnesota voters until we have our caucuses on Feb. 7th.
I am also starting to keep track of the alternative nomination process going on at Americans Elect, which is touting itself as a non-partisan method for choosing a presidential candidate. As someone interested in electoral reform generally, I am very curious to see how this experiment plays out, especially since the candidate who emerges from it could theoretically have ballot access in all 50 states by the time they are nominated. While I could see it potentially being hijacked by one or more losing Republicans, judging by the responses to most of the questions I have answered on the site there appears to be a relatively left-of-center demographic already signed up, and the requirement that the nominated candidate must choose a running mate outside their own party (if they have one) may provide some safeguard. It isn't completely idiot proof, but it is definitely a step in the direction of a more meaningful and inclusive nomination process, as opposed to the media circus going on a couple hundred miles south of me. Hang tough, Iowans, your well earned respite is almost here.