The Fringe, Part 5
Presidential candidates you've never heard of.
Updated Friday, Oct. 26, 2007, at 6:05 PM
This is all fallout from Michigan's effort to upend the primary process by leapfrogging New Hampshire. Michigan's move to Jan. 15 forced Gardner to delay the disclosure of New Hampshire's date so no other state would try to usurp its first-in-the-nation status. Michigan, meanwhile, saw all but three Democrats pull out of its primary because the state wasn't one of the four sanctioned early primary states. Levin seems to consider himself and his state martyrs, crucified for their principled stand against the villainous Yankees in Manchester. The Detroit News quoted him as saying, "New Hampshire has a hammerlock on the process. … We decided we were going to try to change that. We knew we would pay a price for that." How valiant!
Gardner, meanwhile, is playing Batman to Levin's Penguin. Gardner's stoic, above-the-fray demeanor makes Levin appear all the more a blowhard. By the way, the final decision is up to Michigan's governor—not Michigan's senator.
Boozers for Barack: Who knew that Barack Obama could find allies in college drinkers? There's a fascinating showdown in Iowa over underage bar laws that could, possibly maybe, end up affecting the presidential election.
Residents of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, have submitted a ballot measure that would kick anyone under 21 out of the city's bars after 10 p.m. That might sound reasonable in most cities. But currently anyone 19 and over can hang out at Iowa City bars—although they still can't (technically) drink till they're 21. Community members concerned about the neighborhood's safety and appearance are backing the ordinance. On the other side, you've got students looking to defend their right to drink cranberry juice and ginger ale in bars. The measure appears on the ballot Nov. 6.
As voting day approaches, both sides are mobilizing. A group called Citizens Against Students Ruining Downtown staged a "vomit walk" Sunday night to protest the sullying of the neighborhood. Health advocates are also pushing the ordinance since they say it would cut down on binge drinking.
Students are likewise miffed. At the University of Iowa, Republicans and Democrats alike have been conducting nonpartisan voter registration drives and setting up voting stations in the residence halls. Even students at other schools, many of whom travel to Iowa City to drink, are speaking out. The result, if the organization effort works, is that more young people than usual will be registered to vote in Iowa on Nov. 6. And that means more young people registered in time for the caucuses.
This could be good news for Obama. In the past few elections, most Iowa caucus-goers have been older than 50. But this time around, Obama's campaign is putting special emphasis on young people, organizing high school groups called "BarackStars" and urging college students to register. So far, Obama's Iowa ground organization outmatches that of his opponents. If he's able to get a boost from the Iowa City party scene, bully for him.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Cap Fendig courtesy Cap Fendig; screenshot of The Huffington Post.