Last night was another special one in American politics, as the Republican voters of Nevada made their voices heard.
Here’s who the big winners were — besides democracy, of course!
On the heels of his crushing runner-up victory in South Carolina, Rubio notched another massive second place win in Nevada. This is an electric underdog story, the kind that shines even in a dramatic primary like this. Rubio was born to frankly unimpressive parents (they worked at a hotel), but through sheer ambition, he rose to become Speaker of the Florida State House, then Senator, then the official third- and second- place finisher in many key early primary states. Most impressive, Rubio achieved this with only his gumption, his memorization skills, a couple super PACs, and a few unsung hero advisors who told him to wear quarter-zip fleeces at key moments. Whether you agree with him or not, Rubio is an inspiring figure who is now the clear frontrunner, as I predicted.
All night my Twitter timeline was full of Tweeps complaining about the caucus system. They called it “chaotic,” “incompetent,” and “undemocratic.” They banded about ugly allegations of vote-stuffing, counters wearing Trump gear, and the state GOP forgetting to set up caucus sites. Worst of all, my fellow insiders demanded we do away with caucuses and replace them with boring old primaries.
Sure, there probably was widespread voter fraud and incompetence last night. That’s to be expected in any election. But killing caucuses is a horrible idea.
A caucus is like a party for voting. You and your neighbors and friends all gather in a big room for one reason: to talk about the horserace politics that we all love. In this modern world of addictive smartphone poker games and buggy online dating apps whose users often fail to read your messages, there’s something beautiful in seeing a crowd of people doing nothing but listening to a precinct leader read a script about why they should vote for Martin O’Malley or Ben Carson.
Some people say caucuses should have secret ballots. I say: live a little! Break out your inner exhibitionist and think of it like going to a nude beach of voting.
With all the high-stakes horse-trading and public shaming of voters who aren’t in your candidate’s corner, by the time Hour 4 rolls around a caucus-goer is so high on uncut Democracy he’s forgotten all his problems outside that elementary school classroom or church basement. And let’s not forget all that juicy local party business to take care of, where regular folks have a say in hot-button issues like whether it’s okay to hold a bake sale fundraiser on a Jewish holiday.
Folks, Democracy is supposed to be messy, frequently plagued by fraud, and — most importantly — a social activity. If you’re lucky enough to live in a caucus state, my advice to you is put the kids to bed, fill up your flask, and get pumped for an unforgettable night of politicking, mingling, and maybe even a little romance. 😉 This guy has the right idea:
Someone in line at the Trump event is trying get a bucket of Bud Lite thru security
— Holly Bailey (@hollybdc) February 24, 2016
Trump had one mission: to prevent Marco Rubio from getting second place. Unfortunately for the property builder and abuser of reporters, he couldn’t get the job done in a second straight contest. Voters are noticing Rubio’s plucky low double-digit losses, and they see an up-and-comer who’s nipping at Trump’s heels. In Rubio, who survived the bullying of a morbidly obese former prosecutor, voters see a man who doesn’t fear Trump’s similar antagonism. Worse yet, the Donald sank to Ted Cruz’s level by calling him a “baby,” descending into the ugly rumors that the physically repulsive Senator is an infantilization fetishist.
Snake eyes! No, I’m not talking about the Texan’s repulsive, beady spheres of pure revulsion that sit on either side of his drippy sickle-like nose. After gambling big on Nevada evangelicals, Cruz’s hissing furnace voice and seemingly gelatinous neck took all his chips and picked Donald Trump instead. Cruz was further bested by Marco Rubio, marking the first time a possibly spectrum individual has gone up against a balding, indebted philanderer in Vegas and lost.
It isn’t clear if Carson went to Nevada to win delegates or is even aware he’s still campaigning. I’m hesitant to say he lost even, because he could have found something in that desert that speaks to a higher truth. We’ll see if the blind healer ever leaves the sand. If not, keep your eyes peeled in 2020 for Carson to speak the true name of God and reveal the Seventh Seal as prophesied in Revelation, or at least be an important Evangelical endorsement for whoever’s running then.
Tough luck for the Ohio governor, who is rumored to have relapsed once again and was ejected from Circus Circus over a free drink-related argument. The unexpectedly cold Nevada night may have hurt the always-outdoors Kasich, but he wasn’t going to do great here anyway. Kasich now looks to Ohio and Michigan, where groups of shuffling men in Carhartt jackets will be more receptive to the Ohioan’s “everyone deserves a second chance” message.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at [email protected] or Tweet to @carl_diggler.
To try CAFE’s Morning Shot email, sign up here.