NYT Columnist: ‘Form Of White Privilege’ For Iowa To Vote First

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses only a week away and the New Hampshire primary drawing ever closer, the political commentariat are overflowing with opinion pieces about the early-voting states. Now, one progressive columnist wants you to sop up another drop of wisdom: Iowa and New Hampshire voting first is actually racist. 
According to New York Times opinion writer David Leonhardt: 
The strongest part of the case for change, of course, is the racial aspect of the current calendar. Iowa and New Hampshire are among the country’s whitest states. About 6 percent of their combined population is black or Asian-American. Almost 87 percent is non-Hispanic white, compared with 60 percent for the country as a whole. Demographically, Iowa and New Hampshire look roughly like the America of 1870….
The typical defense from Iowa officials is that their state can be trusted because it once voted for a black man (Barack Obama) — which is a pretty stark bit of paternalism.
In truth, the whiteness of Iowa and New Hampshire matters. Consider that Cory Booker and Kamala Harris were doing as well as Amy Klobuchar in early polls of more diverse states; they led Pete Buttigieg in some polls. But Booker and Harris are finished, in no small part because of their struggles in Iowa and New Hampshire. Klobuchar and Buttigieg still might break out.
In the piece, Leonhardt says that Iowa and New Hampshire owe their early-voting status, in part, to circumstances that are no longer relevant — a complex delegate system for Iowa, and weather-related, cost-saving reasons for New Hampshire. 
But now that those factors no longer play a large role in the early-state voting, Leonhardt asserts, people in favor of allowing Iowa and New Hampshire to continue the early-voting tradition usually say that “the good people there take extra care in selecting candidates.” 
But step back and think about how paternalistic and condescending that explanation is. The residents of New Jersey, New Mexico, Indiana, Louisiana and other late-voting states somehow aren’t sufficiently civic-minded or intelligent to choose their own presidential candidates? They always need the same two states to winnow the field?
Furthermore, Leonhardt decries the early-voting tradition as “another form of privilege for groups that already benefit from the senate and electoral college,” and implores people to consider allowing other states to vote first next election. 
At the conclusion of the piece, he sums up the “argument” of a typical Iowa or New Hampshire citizen in favor of keeping the early-voting tradition: “We’re better than the rest of you, and we deserve special treatment forever.”
As Leonhardt notes, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro also proposed moving away from the early-voting states in favor of states with more racial diversity. According to Politico, the proposal drew a response from the Republican and Democratic party chairs in Iowa, who issued a joint statement praising the state’s first-in-the-nation status. 
“Every four years, presidential candidates show up in America’s heartland to make their case to Iowa voters — visiting our coffee shops, farms, the great Iowa State Fair, small businesses, factories and everywhere in between,” Jeff Kaufmann, the Iowa Republican Party chairman, and Troy Price, the Iowa Democratic Party chairman, wrote in the statement, reports the news agency. “Those who put in the work of true retail politics — answering tough questions from educated voters, showing up at local events and making themselves available to average Americans — can and will do well.”
“This means anyone can come to Iowa, even with a small budget, and have a shot at being the president of the greatest country in the world,” the statement continues. 
Castro shot back by implying the party chairs were racist, lambasting the state Republican Party for joining “hands with the Iowa Democratic Party to defend a caucus system that actively diminishes the voices of African Americans and people of color in the Democratic presidential nominating process.”
“I guess that’s not surprising for the party of Steve King,” said Castro, referring to the Republican congressman who has been widely condemned by liberals and conservatives, and has since been stripped of committee assignments.
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