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What the Devil won't tell you

10 reasons to give Arizona a shot if Iowa can't pull caucus together

OK, Iowa.

You had one job.

Seriously, you insist on being first. You insist on having a caucus, rather than just having people walk in, vote and leave. It’s all about you and you have four years to prepare. And you fucked it up.

That’s OK. The stakes aren’t high. It’s not as if there’s a lawless madman in the Oval Office with a fast-food high and the launch codes. It’s not like the Republican Party has suddenly taken out a contract on democracy because it’s their country and theirs alone.

It’s not like the Bernie Sanders team has a history of screaming “rigged!” and “fix!” if things don't go their way and something goes a tiny bit hinky.

You blew it, Iowa. You blew the most important opening day of primaries since Octavian faced Brutus. 

It's time for the Hawkeyes to start figuring out what Super Tuesday balloting feels like and I got just the state to take it's place. It's hot. It's dry. It's neither corn-based nor high-fructose but it does have a pair of rainbow shades

Iowa may have made sense when we were much more white and we had a lot more agriculture majors – you know, a couple industrial revolutions ago. But it’s time to melt the butter cow down for crab leg dipping.

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So, if the Democratic National Committee is looking for a new state to take over the top spot. Might I present the Grand Canyon State.

Here are my top 10 reasons that we fit the bill:

10. The first at the top 

Arizona is the first swing state if you list them alphabetically. Is that a good enough reason? No. Then again, what’s the reason for Iowa again? 

I have nine more.

9. Water? Yes. Corn? No. 

Moving Iowa to the middle of the pack would go a long way to ending the ethanol subsidy. Right now, D.C. electeds who see themselves as presidential timber want no part of pissing off the first caucus state.

The ethanol subsidy is perhaps the dumbest in the broad pantheon of federal programs. It has not only tilted the ag market toward corn, it has stacked the decks of America’s diet in favor of corn. It’s helping making us fat. Its’ also intended to wean the country off fossil fuel but instead, has added to the amount of CO2 in the air. And corn is Iowa and candidates hoping to win Iowa are under pressure to support this dumb-ass idea.

Conservatives don't like it. Liberals don't like it. Presidential candidates don't want to touch it.

In Arizona, we subsidize water. Water doesn’t make us fat.

What’s more, Arizona is an arid climate in a world facing a freshwater shortage and figuring out how 10 billion people can live in world with a finite supply of the one absolutely essential resource. Presidential candidates would have to think about issues facing Arizona and they are the same issues that face an increasingly unsustainable world.

Also, Arizona is among the fastest-warming states in the country and it ain’t exactly like we started off temperate. Climate change would be forced center-stage.

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8. We’re a lot like Iowa, but easier.

Iowa has Des Moines and some other places scattered over 99 counties and 52,000 square miles.

Arizona has Phoenix, Tucson and a manageable number of towns flung across 113,000 square miles.

Candidates can park themselves in Phoenix and go precinct to precinct if they have to before coming down to Tucson and doing the same but faster. The rest of the state can be visited on about six highways.

Like Iowa, we’re big enough to have multiple congressional districts but compact enough to visit house-to-house.

7. Just 15 counties.

One of the pastimes of presidential aspirants is to try to visit all 99 counties in Iowa. What does that have to do with anything?

Seriously? 99 counties? What's a state trying to prove with 99 counties?

Hitting all of them is one of those things that looks better in a press release than it matters in the sense of gaining a broader understanding of the complexities involved in leading the Free World.

Arizona has just 15. You can do it in two days and then get down to the serious business of figuring out macroeconomics.

6. Go native.

You want to talk about a forgotten population? It’s right that we discuss the centuries of systemic racism and how the white operating system still treats African Americans and Latinos like crooks and illegals. But show me another group more forgotten and eternally screwed than the Navajo, Apache, Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui.

Not only were they the victims of a genocide but they were subsequently shoved so far out of the way, that even Twitter has forgotten them unless some college kid shows up to a Halloween Party dressed as Geronimo.

The tribes represent about 5 percent of Arizona’s total vote but would represent a lot larger slice of the pie among Arizona’s Democratic voters. Presidential candidates would have to take their needs seriously about 200 years too late.

It would also be funny watching “candidate time” come in contact with “Rez Time.” Although, I’m not sure space-time could handle that collision.

5. The whole country is here anyway.

If the idea is to talk to as much of the country as possible, then come to Arizona. We’re all from somewhere else. In my little world alone, there’s California, New York, Wisconsin, Illinois and maybe a few locals.

Iowa? Iowa ranks No. 10 in the number of people leaving. Arizona ranks in the top five of people coming. Phoenix and Tucson are in the top 10 for in-migration, according to one study that more or less tracks with previous ones.

So candidates would find themselves campaigning to a cross-section of voters — even among the white ones. Meaning they'll have to be up on the Chicago Cubs and the Golden State Warriors (we're talking the serious issues of the day). 

And among them will be people from the previous first state. Just anecdotally, how hard is it in Arizona to find a native Iowan? I bet it's a lot harder than finding an Arizonan in Iowa.

4. If we’re going to talk about the border…

Then force damned candidates to see the damn border. I’m up to the top of my curly locks (and they need to be cut, so they are up there) with this lie that we haven’t done anything to beef up the border. We have.

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Then they could go back to places like, oh, say, Iowa and tell them “seriously dudes, barbarian hordes are not flooding over the border with swords held high.” There’s no invasion.

Let them see the geometric increase in policing of the border, hundreds of miles of barriers already in place and visit the places it isn't and tell voters in Wisconsin to chill the hell out.

Also, the next leader of this increasingly diversified population can see in places like Tucson, Phoenix and, yes, even Globe, that Latinos and Euro-Americans can live side by side without it shattering our very sense of nationhood. Honestly, Globe was the most integrated place I ever lived.

3. Voters reward huevos or the lack thereof.

For a state just over 100 years old, Arizona has a history of electing candidates that are either largely admired for their integrity or flat-out surly nature.

The state elected Barry Goldwater, Mo Udall, John McCain and Gabrielle Giffords. Jeff Flake flirted with a backbone. Even our nutbars make national news because they are mildly entertaining and voters here put the likes of Evan Mecham and Jan Brewer in office, for God's sake. 

So the country's first primary would reward a candidate who didn't just toe the party line in some devotion to rapidly changing orthodoxy to prove they're "just like you."

It's OK to be yourself and run for office in Arizona, even if you are boring as hell (Jon Kyl, Doug Ducey).

Quick: Name an Iowa politician not named Chuck Grassley. And I don't accept the "make 'em squeal lady" as a correct answer. 

2. So goes America, so goes Arizona faster.

Arizona is much more representative of the opportunities and challenges of the modern American economy than Iowa. On the one hand, jobs can be plentiful but they can also be low-wage. When the last bubble burst, it covered the state in it’s busted skin. The real estate recession of the early 1990s hit the state hard.

Whats more, Iowa's economy is hog-based and corn-fed. Arizona's economy is much more indicative of the challenges facing the modern labor market. It's got a lot of jobs but they tend to be in service fields, with growing and unmet needs in health care. 

We're not as heavy on tech as we would like to think, other than every job is increasingly tech-related. 

As a result, our wages have traditionally lagged.

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If Iowa is experiencing that sort of thing, then why are they so notoriously nice?

1. If Democrats are smart… (insert laughing fit here).

If Democrats are smart... 

Apologies, still having trouble typing that.

If Democrats had the cognitive skill of an avocado, the party hold it’s first three primaries in Arizona, then Georgia and followed by Texas.

Those three states are the future of American politics.

That's the Trump-accelerated demographic realignment is happening fastest. The Greater Atlanta area shifted hard for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and turned out big for Democrats in 2018. Texas’ big metro areas are also shifting from red to blue. And, I’ve gone into great detail discussing how it’s happening in Arizona.

These states were all “over-the-horizon” sources of future electoral gold for the Democrats. They were someday going to become competitive but were all safely Republican. That was before Trump insisted no Republican can be smarter than him as he refuses to learn anything he didn't know in 1978.

His dumbing-down of the GOP is turning off college educated voters and his love of abject cruelty is pissing off women. It should be pissing off guys, but it's not.

The Republican party’s Triple Lindy dive into Trumpism has also turned off people of color.

Texas, Georgia and Arizona are loaded with college-educated voters, and intersectional voters — and at least half of them are women.

All three states are growing and growing fast.

Put them all together and they are probably going to have 70 electoral votes after the 2020 census. 

States like California, Virginia or Alabama habitually voted one way for decades only to flip to the other side and never go back. 

If that happens with AriGeorTex then it's lights out for the GOP. Democrats can write off Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Wisconsin and still have a mortal lock on right around 300 electoral votes.

Check that. It's lights out for the GOP until they go back to rubbing brain cells together. Snowballs ... and climate change ... can coexist (he writes shaking).

And in none of those states are Democrats as active as they need to be to take advantage. Putting those states first would help activate primary voters who would be pivotal in the general election but have yet to be effectively engaged. Flooding those states for two years with early-primary urgency election would be a good way to get energized.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, is to do this would likely mean decoupling the two parties' primary processes. But they’re different parties with different constituencies. So why should they hold their primaries in lock-step?

Then again, for the same reason it’s smart for Democrats to start their primaries in those three states, it would be smart for Republicans start there, too.

Iowa, if you can't pull it together, Arizona will be among the first in line — alphabetically, at least.

Special bonus reason: Minimal competence

Despite Pima County's Brad Nelson's perpetual role as butt of smartassery from reporters and Arizona's long-winded process of vote counting, we've never failed to post reliable preliminary results on election night.

While our often-close elections can mean every single ballot needs to be eyeballed to pick the winners, we do have a tried-and-true and somewhat timely system of determining who won. Because we've APPlied ourselves to making it work.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for 20 years and also worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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Why not us? Iowa's incalculable caucus screw up should be Arizona's gain.

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