The disaster that unfolded here Monday night—improper recording of results, failed transmission of precinct tallies, botched management of the voting procedures themselves—will leave no recourse for the national parties. Iowa’s blood has been in the water for years, its sacred-cow status a source of resentment for states like Florida and Michigan that claim to be more representative of the nation. Iowa has survived, cycle after cycle, on the strength of strategic alliances, none more critical than between the Democratic and Republican parties in the state, each one recognizing that one’s failure could doom the tradition clung to by both…

For Iowa to fall in this manner is at once predictable and inexcusable. The state’s Democratic Party had four years to train and prepare for its most essential responsibility: the administering of an efficient, transparent, accurate caucus process. In fairness, this is no easy task; the byzantine rules of Iowa’s voting system, compounded by recent changes that added additional layers of confusion, demand some degree of grace from candidates and pundits alike. But Iowa Democrats didn’t just fail in their responsibility. They failed spectacularly. They failed in such complete and humiliating fashion that no one will remember who won the 2020 caucuses, only that Iowa lost. Instead of punching three tickets to New Hampshire, the state etched its place in electoral infamy.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. With the country still reeling from unprecedented foreign interference into the 2016 campaign, and Democrats elevating the issue of election security as critical to the unseating of President Trump, Monday night’s fiasco hardly inspired confidence in the party—much less in the institution of the ballot box.