Perhaps the most annoying response to last night’s Iowa debacle are the haughty scolds from journalists and pundits chastising anyone who might proffer a sinister explanation for what unfolded. No, there is not yet evidence of some grand conspiracy — and as ever, the likeliest explanation almost certainly involves an astronomical dose of standard-fare incompetence. But for such a catastrophic failure to have happened in the first place — still zero votes counted at the time of writing, at least three campaigns claiming fraud or illegitimacy, seismic technological and human error, et cetera. — there had to have been some malicious intent involved. Not in the sense that any one individual necessarily orchestrated a massive scheme to undermine the caucus (although with Pete Buttigieg declaring victory shortly after it was reported that he helped fund the doom ‘app’ that couldn’t even record vote tallies, you’d be forgiven for considering explanations that are pretty deep into conspiracy-land.)
Rather, to not adequately check that all the systems were working, to stake the fortunes of the first nominating contest on some convoluted and obviously unnecessary app — gee, how did we ever conduct elections in the United States for several hundred years before the iPhone? — requires a level of conscious intent that might as well be a conspiracy theory. The Democrats’ continued institutional deference to its discredited consultancy class, some of whom appear directly responsible for devising the nonsensical app under the guise of ‘election security’, is bad enough. Can’t blame Russia for this one! (Though some will of course try, just watch.)
Given the scale of the error here, the only viable course seems to be to simply void the results of the caucus. It wasn’t just the stupid app: there are widespread reports that the vote tabulation itself was flawed, meaning the data that would have been inputted is not even trustworthy. Nobody is going to believe the results that the Iowa Democratic party will (presumably) put out at some point, nor should they. The DNC could penalize Iowa by declining to recognize the caucus, and declining to seat their delegates at the convention. This happened in 2008 when Florida and Michigan violated party protocols by moving their primaries ahead of the DNC-mandated schedule. And what happened last night in Iowa is exponentially more egregious: the most humiliating electoral fiasco at least since the Florida 2000 recount.
You really have to give Democrats credit: they epically bungled their first primary contest on the same week that their epically bungled impeachment gambit will result in Trump’s acquittal. Hard to imagine a more fortuitous confluence of screw-ups. The odds of a contested convention just increased dramatically: Mike Bloomberg is already trying to buy the nomination under such circumstances, and he may not have been crazy in his calculations. But of course, that would destroy the party, as there is no way hardened Bernie supporters would ever accept a billionaire Bloomberg takeover: I don’t care if Mike picks Noam Chomsky for VP.
In other news, Tulsi Gabbard once again manages to escape the political fallout tarnishing virtually everyone else in the party, as she decided months ago not to contest Iowa and focus on New Hampshire. Smart!