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PAUL STREET – The Iowa Caucus is a Classist and Ageist Farce

In Iowa, as across the nation, lots of people work during the early to middle evening, after the traditional dinner hour. Tow-truck drivers. Nurses’ aides. Nurses. Resident emergency room doctors. EMTs. Hotel receptionists. Cops. Security guards. Second-shift production workers. Custodians. Retail clerks. Waitresses. Dishwashers. Butchers at the grocery store. Chicken-shacklers at poultry-processing plants. English as a Second Language night instructors. Telemarketers. Cab drivers. Bus drivers. Activity coordinators at retirement homes. Librarians. The people who rent out ice skates at the rink in the Coralville Mall. I could go on.

Many of these folks would seem to be precisely the sort of working class people one might expect to gain from the enactment of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ progressive domestic social agenda, including a significant increase in the federal minimum wage and single-payer (Medicare for All) health insurance. But most early evening workers can’t participate in the Iowa presidential Caucus pitting Sanders against the corporate Democrat Hillary Clinton next Monday night. There’s no federal or statewide Election Day law requiring employers to let those workers participate in the “beloved Iowa political ritual.” The prime-time workers who want to Caucus have to ask for special permission (so their bosses can find replacements) and give up lost wages to go sit and stand through hours of political deliberation.

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