Democracy Dies in Iowa

Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden are trying to game the system amid the chaos.

Last night, with exactly zero precincts reporting, Pete Buttigieg made a calculated decision to declare himself the winner of the Iowa caucus. It was a brazen attempt to steal an election, and it was despicable.

Pete Buttigieg in Iowa (credit: Gage Skidmore)

In the hours since, we’ve learned that Democratic National Committee and the Iowa Democratic Party and had partnered with Shadow — a mysterious Silicon Valley tech firm run by former Clintonites — to create an app that the party would use to tabulate the results of the Iowa Caucuses.

The New York Times reports that Shadow’s “app was quickly put together in the past two months and was not properly tested at a statewide scale,” and for reasons still not entirely clear, party authorities last night allegedly noticed “inconsistencies” in the data as they started tallying results. Time-consuming “quality controls” were initiated to supposedly ensure the validity of the results. Thus, the release of any official results has been delayed, and as of the time of this writing, nobody in America knows who won the Iowa Caucuses.

Shadow has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by the Buttigieg and Biden campaigns, both of which are now openly attempting to game the results that the firms’ app failed to deliver. Coincidence? Maybe. But here’s what’s clear: when Shadow’s DNC-sanctioned app played a role in mucking up the caucus, Pete Buttigieg, without any official or public evidence, declared himself its victor.

Buttigieg must be called out in no uncertain terms for this purely political and self-interested gambit. While entrance polls had him performing well and his campaign claims to have internal numbers that position him as the winner, there was literally no public or official data available at the time of Buttigieg’s speech. The only explanation for his decision to declare himself “victorious” is that amid the confusion and fog of war, the Buttigieg campaign saw value in trying to seize the mantle of frontrunnership and in potentially squashing what may very well be Bernie Sanders’s victory.

It is utterly shameful, and it comes at the direct expense of American democratic institutions. But Buttigieg is not alone in his shameless gamesmanship; the Biden campaign took the opportunity to assert in a letter from legal counsel to the Iowa Democratic Party that “the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released.” It’s is a clear attempt to call into question the integrity of the results and delay their release for as long as possible, and while Biden is right that the Iowa Democratic Party has indeed given voters every reason to question the legitimacy of the yet-unreleased results, that’s not why his lawyer sent that letter.

The truth is that Biden likely suffered a humiliating defeat last night, and by questioning the legitimacy of the results and arguing for them to be subjected to a lengthy reexamination, his campaign is attempting to mitigate the damage that might be done to his candidacy if it became public knowledge that he came in fourth or fifth place. It’s yet another brazen effort to capitalize off the Iowa Democratic Party’s deeply unfortunate and embarrassing failure to administer a transparent and open caucus.

It’s not hard to see the dark, rich irony in the fact that the Democrats — many of whom have argued that President Trump will try to either steal or delegitimize the 2020 election — now have a pair of front-running candidates who’ve made it crystal clear that they themselves will attempt to do just that the second they are given the opportunity. Because that’s what Buttigieg and Biden are up to here; maybe Buttigieg won, maybe he didn’t, but as of the time of his “victory” speech, it was impossible for him or anyone else to know. Maybe the results are tainted, maybe they aren’t, but Biden’s agitating is a purely self-interested attempt to shield himself from the political repercussions of defeat.

The American people should remember who, when given the opportunity, was willing to assert their personal and political interests at the expense of democracy. Anyone who is that desperate for power should be kept from it at all costs.

Writer + Director

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