We’re still waiting to get the initial results of the Democratic 2020 Iowa caucus later today, and even then, the first batch of results likely won’t be complete or confirm the winner. This is unfortunate all around. The winner won’t get the full impact of positive media coverage, the Democratic Party looks terrible for not being able to deliver the results, and it all comes amidst a backdrop of Iowa’s non-diverse population not being representative of the United States to begin with. But that’s not the worst of it.
It’s often been said that you should never assume conspiracy when something can be properly explained by mere incompetence. The trouble here is that we’re in a conspiracy era. Donald Trump has been involved in so many very real conspiracies, several of his own top political advisers have gone to prison for it. And the internet is a breeding ground conspiracies in general. That brings us to last night.
The conspiracy theorists with a rooting interest in the Democratic Iowa caucus results have already decided that the delayed results must absolutely be a conspiracy against their candidate. But in order to legitimately assert conspiracy, you need to have the preponderance of the evidence on your side, and your way of connecting the dots needs to make more logical sense than any other possible explanation.
In the Iowa caucus, the conspiracy theorists are asserting – apparently with a straight face – that Pete Buttigieg somehow bribed a group of people to sabotage their own software app, so that an extra day would go by before it was announced that Buttigieg lost. This is absurd beyond words. Even if Buttigieg did resort to this level of villainy, and if he did have this kind of control over the recording of the results, wouldn’t he have simply rigged it so he won Iowa?
Pete Buttigieg wouldn’t be capable of the extraordinary level of creative stupidity required to have taken the actions that he’s accused of having taken. That’s before getting to the absurd notion that Buttigieg – who has a legitimate if small chance at the nomination – would risk it all by cheating in a caucus that he might have won anyway. The unfortunate part here is that the conspiracy theorists have convinced themselves that there’s a (phony, ridiculous, laughably absurd) conspiracy against their own preferred candidate – and that just gives them an excuse not to support the eventual nominee when it ends up not being their preferred candidate.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report