It took 30 years, but all the positive vibes from Field of Dreams have been erased in one long night and one following day of chaos and confusion. Never again will some baseball player stare out at a repurposed cornfield and wonder aloud if he was in heaven, only to be told no—he was actually in Iowa.
No one, or at least no Democratic presidential candidate or sleep-deprived journalist, will confuse Iowa with heaven ever again.
It's 30 years since Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella built that ball field (where an actual major league game will be played this coming summer!), and all the romance and nostalgia blew up in one disorderly and tumultuous—and yes embarrassing—night for the citizens of Iowa. And if the Democratic candidates are angry and frustrated this morning, their feelings probably pale by comparison with all those who worked hard to ensure the success of the caucuses, only to have it snuffed out in an avalanche of negligence and overconfidence.
Now on hangover Tuesday there are already calls to end the Iowa Caucuses, not because they’re antiquated, and not solely because of Monday's debacle, but because Iowa is old and white and does not represent the major components of the Democratic party. For instance, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar—I like them both—but I don’t find anything significant in their good showing last night among white voters in a state that's 91% white. A black candidate like Cory Booker with credentials equivalent to Buttigieg and Klobuchar stands little chance anywhere outside DesMoines or a few other large cities and urban areas.
The U.S. median age is 37. Iowa is close to that. But the United States is over 25% black or Hispanic, compared to Iowa’s 8% for all minorities in total. Other midwestern states are more representative of American society—Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, to name a few. Maybe it’s time for the first caucus to take place in a state where the presidential balloting is not a foregone conclusion either way.
And yet far from the madding crowd, in Dyersville, Iowa, 172 miles from DesMoines, there's a cornfield converted to a baseball field to which, thirty years after Field of Dreams was released, people still make pilgrimages. They run the bases, they play catch—and like Gatsbys reborn, they try to recapture the past. It's unlikely that the events of February 3, 2020, will have much of an impact on that tradition. Even so, I wouldn't expect to see too many Democratic contenders putting on a glove and tossing a ball around out near the Iowa corn. Not for a good long while.