The Iowa Democratic party had one job: tally the results for the party’s first-in-nation caucus. It’s almost unbelievable the Democrats could fail to perform what has been, in previous years, an exceedingly trivial task. So, unbelievable that a lot of people are bound to look for explanations other than “incompetence.”
Donald Trump couldn’t have asked for better circumstances to weave a conspiracy theory if he tried.
Conspiracy theories flourish when there is no clear explanation for an event. And last night, there were no good explanations why the entire political universe was kept in limbo as the Iowa Democratic party struggled to count votes. Making things worse for Democrats—which means better for Trump—is the fact that this massive blunder came one day after the Des Moines Register spiked its final Selzer poll over a reported technical error.
How could so much go so wrong in one state? Naturally, the persons responsible for the mishaps aren’t eager to talk. Team Trump, on the other hand, was quick to pounce.
“Quality control=rigged?” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted as reporters struggled to extract statements from Democrats as to why there were no results. And so the 2020 games begin with the continuation of conspiracy theories Trump has touted since 2016.
Recall that in 2016 Trump insisted that the Democratic primary was “rigged” against Bernie Sanders to favor Hillary Clinton. To support his claims, he relied upon the Democratic National Committee emails that were hacked by Russians and showed some DNC staffers speaking about Sanders in disparaging terms. Did he genuinely have Bernie’s well-being in mind? No. It was a transparent play to appeal to Sanders supporters and delegitimize Clinton. (He knows from delegitimization.)
Even as the sitting president, Trump is still elbow-deep in conspiracy theories. He refuses to accept conclusions reached by the intelligence community that it was Russians who hacked the DNC emails. One of the undercurrents of the Ukraine scandal is Trump’s conspiratorial belief that the DNC breach was an “inside job” coordinated in Ukraine, where he believes the server remains hidden. As the Washington Post’s fact checker put it, “[T]here aren’t enough Pinocchios available in our system to truly do this justice.”
As America wakes up on Tuesday morning there are still no results from Iowa and no good explanations as to why. Something is readily apparent, though, that should scare the daylights out of anyone who hopes to see Trump defeated. The Democrats have learned nothing about the need for rapid response. Who is in charge here? Hello? Hello? Oh, wait. The state party just hung up on me.
And these people want to run a nationalized healthcare system? They can’t even run a caucus! Oh, I’m sorry. You don’t like that joke? Well get used to it. Because you’re going to hear Trump make it on the campaign trail every day for the next year.
At this point, it almost doesn’t matter what the Democrats eventually say, other than perhaps “the Iowa caucuses are cancelled.” The damage has been done. The caucus has failed. Discord has been sown.
The Russians couldn’t have done it better themselves.