General Ization’s power grows

Melvyn Magree

Despite my warning in the Reader Weekly of 2007-04-26 (General Ization Battles Truth), people keep enlisting in his armies and misleading others.

The latest is the sweeping generalization that this or that candidate “won” in the Iowa primaries.  Figuring out the Iowa caucus results is a bit of a slog, but looking at the result summary in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/elections/2016/primaries/iowa), you will see that one candidate “winning” and the others ‘losing” is a serious over-generalization.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had 49.9% and was effectively awarded 23 delegates.  Bernie Sander had 49.6% and 21 delegates.  I would hardly call this a Clinton win, because Sanders received almost as many delegates as Clinton and who knows what will happen in the state convention when delegates are selected for the national convention?

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz had 27.6% of the vote and eight delegates, Donald Trump 24.3% and seven, and Marco Rubio 23.1% and seven.

These five candidates were all “winners” in the Iowa caucuses.  But how will these results translate into actual votes in November?  Iowa is a caucus state, not a primary state.  My guess is that a lot fewer people show up for caucuses than do for primaries, and a lot fewer show up for primaries than do for final elections.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s registered-voter list has 586,835 “active” Democratic voters and 615,763 “active” Republican voters.  But it lists 727,112 “No Party Active” voters.  The Republican caucus turnout was 186,874 or less than a third of the “active” Republican registered voters.

I would say that the biggest winner, based on the large number of “no-shows” in the Iowa caucuses was “None of the Above”, and that means the biggest loser is democracy.

“New Hampshire Embraces Trump’s New York Bombast” (New York Times Online 2016-02-07).  Really?  Did all the voters in New Hampshire really embrace Trumps bombast?  If we look at the figures of how many thousand New Hampshire voters actually turned up for Trump’s speeches, maybe the headline should read “New Hampshire Rejects Trump’s New York Bombast”.

Closer to home, the Duluth News Tribune has had headlines that imply all of Duluth is involved in something or other.

When a student died of exposure on Woodland Avenue, the News Tribune had a headline similar to “Duluth should be ashamed.”  Did each and every person in Duluth know she was outside freezing to death?  Was each and every driver passing by her house in any position to know that somebody was outside in need of help?  Were even any of the very few pedestrians in a position to see somebody huddled at a door?  Her death should never have happened, but only a few people were in any position to prevent this or come to her aid.

A recent headline was “Duluth feels ‘the Bern’”.  How many Duluthians showed up for Bernie Sanders’ rally in Duluth?  I think it was about 4,000.  That is a rather good turnout, but that also means that about 76,000 Duluth residents didn’t show up for Sanders’ rally.  How many would have liked to attend but didn’t for one reason or another?  How many didn’t even want to consider going?  We don’t know the numbers for either of these possibilities.  But considering that probably more than 4,000 Duluth voters would not vote for Sanders, we could also have the over-generalized headline: “Duluth rejects Sanders”.  If Sanders wins the Democratic endorsement, we will have to wait until November to find out if “Duluth rallies for Sanders” or if “Duluth rejects Sanders”.  Either headline will be a generalization because there will be a large number of people who voted for the Republican candidate.  These voters are also “Duluth”.

Since my previous column on General Ization, I’ve learned he would not have all this power without the able help of his lieutenants, Xavier Aggeration and Ms. Direction.  You can detect some of X. Aggeration’s contributions above.

Ms. Direction has been spreading the notion of “value voters” embracing the Republicans.  But don’t most voters have values?  Besides anti-abortion and Biblical literallism, aren’t there the values of peace and justice?  I find it strange that these “value voters” align themselves with supporters of “greedy corporations” who hold no values except “shareholder value”.

Ms. Direction, like her boss General Ization, doesn’t play favorites.  She spreads the idea of “greedy corporations” as if all corporations treat their workers as serfs and cheat their customers as often as they can.  There are many corporations that value their employees and often tell the regulators that something went wrong in the production of some product.  And we find many corporations that are changing their products to suit their customer’s wants.

Of course, they only know what some customers want.  Maybe other customers don’t want change, or if they want change, they want change back to products they could buy some years ago.  Hopefully, the customers that want certain changes are those who volunteered the information, not those who were coerced into agreeing to a desired response in a focus group.

This leads us into the worst generalization: “The People”.  It would be great if “The People” were a majority of all eligible voters.  Unfortunately, election after election it is a “majority” of those who actually show up to vote; this too often means that a minority of  eligible (and too often registered) voters “decided” the outcome.    I hope you, dear reader, are going to be one who shows up and shows General Ization, X. Aggeration, and Ms. Direction that they are wrong.