With the first batch of primaries just two days away, it's time for us smart people to really consider what's going on in Iowa. Don't consider yourself a smart person? Read anyway and see if you find yourself feeling smarter by the end.

First, let's note a few things:

1) Both parties have no clear leader, this time around. Some days Hillary's ahead of Obama, other days Obama is ahead of Hillary with Edwards, equally sometimes, mentioned as the sleeper hit. The same goes for the GOPers--only worse. Could be Huckabee, could be Romney, or Rudy or McCain or... you get the idea. It's very undecided at this late date and it'll stay that way until November--long after the primaries are done. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

2) Flashback to the 2000 election: Bush and Gore were neck and neck. No clear winner could be predicted. Flashback to the 2004 election: same thing--Bush and Kerry were tight--the race was unpredictable (despite John Zogby saying Kerry was going to win the White House).

3) The only candidates that offer a substantially different message, like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, have been marginalized in the press and in debates. This is why they're not mentioned as being in the running despite the grassroots support both candidates have. Google Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul to see what I mean.

4) There have been and still are a lot of problems with electronic ballot boxes. They're both easily hackable and unreliable. Hell, any kind of counting mechanism can be fixed to deliver the wrong numbers--sometimes it can even happen by accident.

1+2+3+4=another election featuring results that we can't trust.

If any of the black sheep candidates were given a real voice in the press (or were even allowed to take part in every debate) people might decide to go with candidates who actually promise to do things differently than the "mainstreamers," like Hillary and Huckabee, who promise the same old crap. See, if those outsiders get a lot of press, when an election is fixed, it will be obvious since they might get a landslide win. Fixing an election like that would be too stupid.

Marginalize the guys that actually might make a difference, present milquetoast candidates that no one likes and people will spread their votes around evenly, allowing the folks who own the ballot machines to effectively decide who will win. A nudge here, a nudge there, and whomever you want to win in an election so clearly up in the air. It seems like exciting TV to us, but is really a recipe for the wrong guy or gal getting into office.

Am I saying there's some cabal of guys that decide who wins American elections?

I'm honestly not sure. I do see that there could be a cabal and based on idiot-boy Bush "winning" twice by the narrowest of margins seems like solid evidence. A case could also be made for Bush "winning" twice by accident--stranger things have happened.

Of course, the media has more to gain by everything continuing as it is. They're owned by guys who want to expand their empire and get even richer. So, they hand candidates wins and said winners allow the media to grow even larger. Look at what's happened since 2000. Fewer media companies owning more and more and more.

It all seems like a big circle jerk.

So, what should we do? I'm thinking we should all let our representatives and senators know that we don't like this system. We need real voting--paper ballots where if we don't check the right box with a pencil it's our fault, not the fault of a hanging chad or a faulty or fixed computer. Sure, you can still stuff paper ballot boxes, but it's a lot harder to do than with computers. There are a thousand different ways computers can be hacked and a thousand more ways they can simply be faulty. How many times has your computer crashed on you? Do you really want to trust a computer like yours to the fate of America, and really the world?

Check out senate.gov and house.gov to find out who your representatives in Washington are and tell them what you think. It's your democracy, folks. Use it or lose, right?

Orignal From: PRIMARIES A FIELD DAY FOR FIXED ELECTION-WATCHING