The Circus is Leaving Iowa And Coming To a Town Near You

Well, Iowa’s quadrennial fifteen minutes of fame is over.

I have to admit as a resident of Iowa, I enjoy having all this attention paid to our state every four years.  When there is on open race for my party’s nomination, I get a lot of opportunities to see the presidential candidates in person and ask them questions.

But being the first in the nation to vote for a nominee for president does have some drawbacks.  For one thing, I don’t always like having to decide in early January who it is I want to vote for next November. And of course this year we had to hear endless comments about the hard-core right wingers in Iowa who are pushing the Republican candidates even further to the right. This leads a lot of people to conclude that Iowa is a conservative state, predominately populated by rednecks and Christian fundamentalists.

In reality, Iowa is, comparatively speaking, one of the more progressive states in the country. Iowa has voted for the Democratic candidate in five of the last six presidential elections (Iowa was one of only ten states that went for Dukakis in 1988). Iowa tends to split its congressional representation pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Although there are some extreme conservatives who vigorously oppose abortion, gay rights and want to see Obama’s birth certificate, don’t forget Iowa was one of the first states to legalize gay marriage.

So despite what you may have heard about Iowa, we’re really very much like a microcosm of the entire country.

Having said that, I have to admit that the Iowa Caucuses are not a very ideal method for selecting a candidate. Because it can be a long event lasting up to 3 hours, and it does not allow for a secret vote, it tends to draw the people who are the most highly motivated to participate. Many of the people who show up at the caucuses tend to be among the more extreme in their views while the more moderate voters are less inclined to endure the long process.

This year the people of Iowa have had almost exclusive access to the Republican presidential candidates for over six months and just about the only thing we can all agree on is that we don’t like any of them.

There is one other thing I think we can all agree on.  We’ll all be glad when the caucuses are over and we don’t have to listen to any more of the commercials, the canned talking points, the lame attempts to pander to our state pride, or the unfair characterization in the media of Iowans as ignorant hicks who don’t deserve the right to have so much influence on the electoral process.

The truth is, no one state deserves to have so much influence on the nominating process. Not Iowa, not New Hampshire, nobody. But since someone has to go first, Iowa is about as representative of the country as a whole as any one state can be.