The Wasatch Behind: the real cowboy caucus
"Good grief," Uncle Spud grumbled as he turned off the TV in disgust. "What's with all of this caucus business? We've got the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire caucus, and the South Carolina caucus. What is a caucus anyway, and why don't I get to vote in one?"
"A caucus is a creative way to hold a primary election," I told him. "The political parties in caucus states hold meetings to pick who the candidates will be in the upcoming presidential election. It's a lot like American Idol. They let all of the presidential hopefuls get on stage to debate and make fools of themselves and then they vote for the candidates with the best stage-presence and sex appeal. Then both parties have a big final event called a convention where they select the person who got the most caucus votes and the most money in contributions, and they anoint that candidate to run for president."
"But it's not fair if everyone isn't included in the process," Spud said.
"Oh, you can vote too," I told him. "Utah will have our pre-presidential vote on February 5 as part of the Super Tuesday primaries. But of course, by then the contest will already be decided. Those nice folks in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will already have decided who your choices for president will be."
"So it isn't fair," he insisted.
"Yeah, it's really too bad," I agreed. "By the time we get to stand up and be counted, the contest will be narrowed down to a choice between Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dumb. Every state should hold caucuses on the same day. That way, a state like New Hampshire wouldn't have undue influence on the rest of us."
"So let's change the process and have one big caucus that's fair for everybody," Spud said. "And let's have a caucus that's more than a beauty contest or a talent show. In fact, let's have a caucus where no one votes and the candidates earn the right to run for president on their own. I propose we have a cowboy caucus where everyone participates in a rodeo. We could have the national finals of politics and the all-around winner from each party could be the final candidates."
"That's a great idea," I agreed.
"I can see it now," he giggled. "Instead of having the candidates sit in front of TV cameras in dark suits and pink dresses while they answer silly questions, let's get them in boots and jeans and see who they really are."
"But what type of events should we have?" I asked. "Most candidates are good at ducking and weaving on the issues," he said, "so let's start with barrel racing and pole bending so they can show their stuff."
"Good idea," I agreed.
"And then we can go to calf roping to see who is best at tying up legislation and critical funding," he declared.
"Terrific," I offered. "And don't forget about wild cow milking. Most politicians are good at milking the job and political donors for all they are worth."
"And then we can go to the rough stock events," he said. "Bronc and bull riding will show who has the courage to get in the chute and how the candidates will act once they are in the arena. Those bucking events will show which candidates are most likely to get dumped on their heads when things get tough, and who is prone to eat dirt."
"Don't forget the bulldogging event," I reminded him. "It's a rare politician who'll take the bull by the horns."
"Good point," he said. "And we could have a shooting and knife throwing contest as well. We can find out who the straight shooters are, and it'll be fun to see if anyone gets stabbed in the back."
"We can have a rodeo clown contest too," I added. "That'll show how well each candidate can dodge the bull in Washington, and how much time they spend in the barrel."
"I think we've got a great idea here," Spud said. "You get the pro-rodeo people on the phone while I contact the national political organizations. This'll be the most raucous caucus ever held, and a lot more entertaining than a silly debate. It might be a good fundraiser, too. I don't know about you, but I'd buy a ticket to see Hillary rope a goat and Rudy Giuliani chase a greased pig."