/Iowa, Democrats, and Elite Incompetence

Iowa, Democrats, and Elite Incompetence


The Democrats have lurched from their self-inflicted wound of the botched impeachment effort to the self-inflicted wound of the embarrassing fail of Iowa caucus result-tallying, thanks not just to the use of a newly-created app that failed in prime time, but also the lack of any sort of fallbacks. The spectacle of a district chief taking an interview on CNN while on hold with the state honchos and getting a hang up on air is a new low:

And another unseemly example, both the use of Twitter and the obvious disconnect between votes and the delegate split:

On one level, this is an illustration of America’s descent into banana republic status. Pundits and the media keep reinforcing American exceptionalist fantasies, our brand fumes of vaunted democracy, yet we can’t even run elections competently. Is is just the grifting, that introducing more tech creates more opportunities for vendor enrichment? Or is it yet more proof that a lot of people in charge really hate democracy and are at best indifferent to doing things right?

It’s not hard to see the Iowa fiasco as an illustration of an even more deeply-seated pathology: elite incompetence. Too many people with the right resumes get to fail upwards or at worst sideways. And remember, unlike our older WASP-y leaders who were a combination of people from the right clubs and self-made men, our current crop of people in charge pride themselves on being the end products of a meritocratic system, as in their claim to legitimacy stems from the claim that they are more talented (gah) than mere mortals and therefore obviously should be in the top slots because they’ll do oh so much better than everyone else.

And it’s the Democratic party, as the representative of the 10% professional managerial classes, that really owns this disease. Recall in Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal how he set forth, without irony, a conference that was treacly with the self-regard, with the way every participant was lavished with embarrassing exaggerations of their accomplishments. No one had the slightest sense of how narcissistic and pampered they seemed. And it wasn’t hard to imagine they’d all collapse in a heap if presented with a real challenge, like suddenly becoming destitute or being dumped in a remote area with neither a water bottle nor GPS.

And we keep seeing this leadership class succeed in rent extraction and not much else. Go down the list: The post-crisis failure to reform the banks or even go through the motions by incarcerating a few execs and turfing out some board members. Our grossly over-priced, underperforming health care system. Our student-impoverishing higher education system. The F-35. The botched Obamacare rollout. Our Middle-East nation-breaking, which has scored geopolitical own goals like destabilizing Europe, facilitating Russia asserting itself a geopolitical power despite having an economy the size of South Korea and in the face of our economic sanctions, and making us deservedly disliked around the world. Hillary Clinton losing to of all people Donald Trump despite spending twice as much as his campaign spend because her team was enamored of Robby Mook’s models and somehow forgot about the Electoral College.

And if you believe, as Team Dem does, that every problem can be solved with better PR, the corollary is you never admit to failure, you never do post mortems, and you keep incompetents around who you allow to fail and fail again.

There’s plenty of acid commentary on Twitter, as well as not-pretty facts:

This gives an idea how much integrity the app has:

Plus of chicanery apart from the app:

And one of the real stories of the evening, the Biden Iowa wipeout, has been obscured by the voting mess, and Biden wants to keep it that way:

It still looks like Sanders won, and with the caucuses being so transparent, there’s limited room for votes being disappeared. But if that’s the case, it certainly would seem to take the air out of his victory.

The Sanders team needs to find a way, as with the Warren debate smear, to turn what out to have been a hit into a win. The best revenge is more donations, particularly from new donors. It will be a test to see how Sanders Twitter army and his fundraisers contend with this train wreck.

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