Resolutions of the Mighty

In which our man Durst, awaiting action in Iowa, points the way to a brighter future for the nation’s powermongers.

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The caucuses returned the Hawkeye State to center stage of America’s electoral circus, and all but one of the clowns were in attendance. John McCain didn’t show. You know: POW-MIA. Iowa. Just a mite too close.

The only problem is, nobody knows exactly what happens at these things. The one guy who did know died in ’77. It’s rumored to have begun with early Iowans throwing small runish stones which were then interpreted in a hollowed out stump full of pig entrails by men wearing overalls. Kind of like musical chairs without the music. Or chairs.

The biggest difference between what goes on here and a primary is that “caucuses” is much more fun to say. Go ahead, try it in a sentence: “I fell down and broke my caucuses.” And people don’t just pull a lever in a caucus. They attend. They discuss. Then they move off into designated candidate corners, but if not enough people hang with you (at least 15 percent of the assembled), everybody has to wander around looking for a second or third corner they feel comfortable herding into.

Speaking of cornering, the campaign staff that corners the breath-mint and deodorant markets could hold a huge advantage here. And when you think about it, there are worse ways in choosing a candidate than by picking the one with the best-smelling staff. After all, something like that might have precluded Watergate.

I don’t care what you call it, caucus, primary or pork-lips-and-linoleum-eating competition: In the end, like it or not, someone’s going to end up a winner and someone is going to end up a loser. Happy face/sad face. Some will be drinking champagne toasts surrounded by network cameras and others will stop off at the local Kum and Go for a quart of Old Milwaukee Light and drink it in their rental. And this peculiar midwestern voting ritual is no exception. Except of course if you listen to the spin. My favorite part is when a staffer awkwardly attempts to explain how his candidate coming in last was a key part of a carefully orchestrated long term strategy. In politics, it’s not enough to be a winner, you got to be a big winner. By definition then you would think Gore and Bush are obvious winners since they won. But you watch, pundits will crawl out of the woodwork claiming they also lost, because of a failure to win by enough. Bradley came in second, so he’ll declare himself a moral winner. Although the celebration will be as muted as a saxophone full of scalloped potatoes considering his last place finish in a field of two. Forbes came in a strong second so he’ll assert he’s the big winner. But so will McCain and Keyes who maintain they’re the big big winners for exceeding expectations. McCain because he didn’t even run here, and Keyes just because he’s a black guy running for the Republican nomination. Bauer and Hatch are medium big winners because they can pack up and go home. But the biggest winners of all are the residents of Iowa, who don’t have to suffer through another invasion of carbon based manure spreaders for another four years. Big big losers? The people of New Hampshire, next on the list of the soon to be fertilized. Will Durst, host of PBS’ “The Citizen Durst Report,” is looking forward to New Hampshire the way a lobster looks forward to melted butter. Once more unto the breach dear friends.

Will Durst, host of the upcoming PBS special “Citizen Durst” is currently eating pork tenderloins in Iowa. His column appears weekly on the MoJo Wire.

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WE'LL BE BLUNT

It is astonishingly hard keeping a newsroom afloat these days, and we need to raise $253,000 in online donations quickly, by October 7.

The short of it: Last year, we had to cut $1 million from our budget so we could have any chance of breaking even by the time our fiscal year ended in June. And despite a huge rally from so many of you leading up to the deadline, we still came up a bit short on the whole. We can’t let that happen again. We have no wiggle room to begin with, and now we have a hole to dig out of.

Readers also told us to just give it to you straight when we need to ask for your support, and seeing how matter-of-factly explaining our inner workings, our challenges and finances, can bring more of you in has been a real silver lining. So our online membership lead, Brian, lays it all out for you in his personal, insider account (that literally puts his skin in the game!) of how urgent things are right now.

The upshot: Being able to rally $253,000 in donations over these next few weeks is vitally important simply because it is the number that keeps us right on track, helping make sure we don't end up with a bigger gap than can be filled again, helping us avoid any significant (and knowable) cash-flow crunches for now. We used to be more nonchalant about coming up short this time of year, thinking we can make it by the time June rolls around. Not anymore.

Because the in-depth journalism on underreported beats and unique perspectives on the daily news you turn to Mother Jones for is only possible because readers fund us. Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism we exist to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we need readers to show up for us big time—again.

Getting just 10 percent of the people who care enough about our work to be reading this blurb to part with a few bucks would be utterly transformative for us, and that's very much what we need to keep charging hard in this financially uncertain, high-stakes year.

If you can right now, please support the journalism you get from Mother Jones with a donation at whatever amount works for you. And please do it now, before you move on to whatever you're about to do next and think maybe you'll get to it later, because every gift matters and we really need to see a strong response if we're going to raise the $253,000 we need in less than three weeks.

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