The Iowa caucuses undermine a principle that both the Clintonites and the Deaniacs hold dear: democracy. In a primary, you can vote all day; voting takes a couple of minutes; your vote is secret; and if you can’t make it to the polls, you can vote absentee. To participate in the Iowa caucuses, by contrast, you must arrive exactly at 6:30 p.m., and there are no absentee ballots. (If you work the night shift, tough luck.) Once there, you must stay for several hours before publicly declaring which candidate you support. Not surprisingly, while more than 70 percent of registered Democrats participated in the New Hampshire primary in 2000 and 2004, a mere 10 to 20 percent participated in the Iowa caucuses.
Please explain to Ackerman and Fishkin how this is not only not a superior form of democracy, but is not democracy. The mind boggles.
Ahem! More people voting is not more democratic. The Greeks, inventors of democracy, didn’t let just anybody vote, now did they? You obviously need to be more motivated than average to participate in a caucus. And people who actually speak on behalf of candidates, sharing their reasons, and listening to others do likewise, are more likely to be well-informed than people who just shamble into the junior high gym and pull a lever. Beinart simply provides democracy-lovers reason to think all states should have caucuses just like the great state of Iowa.