They had four years to prepare, four years knowing that their "first in the nation" 2020 caucus for the Democrat Party was going to feature a wide-open race with new faces and unprecedented energy.
And yet somehow, they managed to find a way to jack it all up.
The Iowa caucus vote totals should have been revealed on Monday night, but as of Tuesday morning they are still unknown.
Technical problems and reporting "inconsistencies" are being blamed for the delay, which is being described as an embarrassment to the Democratic Party as the Iowa caucuses were supposed to inject clarity into a muddled 2020 race.
Here is how it's playing around the mainstream media:
To some, it seems impossible that in our era of incredible technology, the vote totals can't be tabulated. But it's actually worse than that. Remember, Iowa doesn't host a primary election – they feature an old-school caucus system that literally involves people congregating in different parts of large rooms to signify physically their support for one candidate or another.
Quaint? Sure. But quaint should also imply simple. As Senator Ted Cruz mocked:
"It's interesting, Dems right now, they can't stand in a gymnasium and count who stands under which sign."
I'm not worried about the Democrats – their race will get ironed out when the primaries start rolling in soon enough. What I'm concerned about is that the American people are going to learn the wrong lesson from this Hawkeye state debacle.
For decades, political scientists and pundits have fumed about the inordinate influence a sparsely populated state like Iowa has in propelling certain candidates on towards the presidency, or ruining the chances of others. Editorial cartoons like this one demonstrate the degree of importance placed upon such early-voting states:
On the Democrat side, since 1972 the Iowa caucuses have sent front-runners like Howard Dean packing, while correctly selecting the eventual nominee 6 out of 9 times. There's simply no denying the momentum an Iowa caucus win can bring, and that's what a lot of political power brokers want to see changed. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if this caucus night meltdown proves enough to precipitate a major change.
But as I mentioned, I don't think that's the lesson to learn here. It isn't that Iowa is too powerful, it's that bureaucratic governing bodies are too powerful.
The real storyline coming out of Monday's mismanaged spectacle should be that once again, a centralized bureaucracy proves it simply can't function efficiently or effectively even when given ample resources, time, and motivation. That was the rest of Senator Cruz's poignant remarks yesterday:
"It's interesting, Dems right now, they can't stand in a gymnasium and count who stands under which sign — and they're the ones who want to be put in charge of our health care, and everything else in our life? I mean, these are the socialist candidates who say, 'We know best, trust us to run your life.'"
He's exactly right. Every time you hear one of these socialist candidates tout their "plan" or "solution" or "program" to deal with whatever great challenge they choose at that moment – from health insurance premiums to climate change, gun control to plastic straw bans – realize that they are all going to be designed and implemented by the very same people that took four years of planning to deliver the 2020 Iowa caucus dumpster fire.