Iowa, the irrelevant

“Is this heaven?”

“It’s Iowa.”

“Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.”

—from the film “Field of Dreams”

Iowa, the irrelevant
By Harry Caines

I thought about how many people I have personally known that have hailed from the state of Iowa. Six. As best as I can recollect I have known six people from Iowa. Having previously worked in the hospitality business, I might have met a few hundred more people from the Hawkeye state. Unless my memory is failing me as I scribe this column, I have nary a bad word to say about any of them.

I can only conclude that none of the Iowans I met in my life are current attendees to the Iowa Republican and Democratic caucuses.

On February 1st, 2016, Iowans in 99 counties will attend caucuses to decide which delegates to send to the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions. Iowa has the distinction of being the first state to have its voice heard regarding who the nominees should be.


The answer is: Because.

There is no real historic precedent for Iowa going first. There are many stories about why Iowa moved to the front of the pack. The one anecdote I think is most plausible is that after the hectic, destructive circus the Democrats endured during the 1968 presidential campaign, the head of the Iowa Democrats wanted an orderly process for his state in 1972. So, he moved his party’s caucuses up to January.

Iowa, the irrelevant
President Jimmy Carter

Four years later, with a group of diminutive nominees for the Democratic ticket fighting for recognition, a barely known one-term governor of Georgia named James Earl Carter fought hard to win the Iowa Caucus. Yes, we all have Iowa to thank for the Era of Malaise.

That same year, former California governor Ronald Reagan started his revolution by nearly beating President Gerald Ford in Iowa. Four years later, Reagan would again lose Iowa.

Think about this a moment. Republicans in Iowa—the state which is first simply because they say they are first—failed to garner a plurality of caucus goers to vote for a man whom many in the Grand Old Party revere with the same solemnity as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

The Gipper did win the 1984 Republican caucus uncontested. Way to get your seat on the bandwagon early, Iowa! Stay hot!

And now we come to 2016. In 60 days the good people from the 29th state to enter the Union will use their extensive knowledge of world events, diversity and the 6,972 ways to cook corn to let the rest of our vast nation know who they think should be president. We can ignore the Democrats for the purpose of maintaining drama. Hillary Clinton will win.

It is not that Democrats in Iowa (and elsewhere) believe Hillary is an honest political broker with a genuine passion for public service. HIllary Clinton will win because Hillary Clinton will have you killed if you are a Democrat and you do not vote for her. Now go vote for Hillary you spineless Democrats and keep your mouth shut…or else!

The real kegger that everyone wants a red cup to be admitted to is with the GOP. Currently there are 13 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. I think it’s 13. I lose count. All I know is if they had a month to practice together, they could beat the Philadelphia 76ers in a basketball game.

Of course, you can pretty much throw away most of these nominees. If they do not slink meekly back into obscurity after the Iowa Caucus, the brutality of the New Hampshire Primary will kill off these delusional B teamers.

But, those who should be the “top shelf” candidates, worthy of serious consideration, are fighting for every second of free media they can get. This is because Republican voters have decided to elevate two “outsider” candidates who seriously undermine the GOP’s chances of an easy victory against Hillary “Fuzzy Unicorn” Clinton.

Iowa, the irrelevant
Ben Carson

One of these candidates is an anathema. The other is a political rube.

The rube is Dr. Ben Carson. If I was being wheeled into an operating room with a serious head injury and I saw Carson waiting for me, I would be put at ease. If Vladimir Putin woke up one morning and decided the legendary hookers who frequent the streets and lively nightclubs of Kiev were vital to restoring Russia’s economy, and Carson was the only man standing between Putin and a new Iron Curtain, I would not sleep at night.

As best as I can tell, the far right wing nuts of my party have propped up this unqualified man based solely on his rhetoric regarding social issues. He’s dangerously inexperienced at foreign policy; and, after the last seven years of the effete philosophical failure that is the embodiment of Barack Obama’s feckless foreign follies, a Carson presidency could lead to worldwide anarchy.

Iowa, the irrelevant

The second outsider is Donald Trump. Do I need to regurgitate my loathing for this megalomaniacal pariah?Read my previous column on this subject if you want to know what I think of this pathetic attention whore.

Thankfully, the Carson surge is losing ebb. The social conservative voters appear to be searching for a candidate who shares their values without endangering the entire world. But Donald Trump is still winning in Iowa polls. Bad, bad, bad Iowa!

I pooh-poohed the polls taken before Thanksgiving. I thought they were irrational voters being polled. Turns out they are just flat-out stupid. If the Hawkeye State really does give Trump the legitimacy he does not deserve, then Iowa can look in a mirror when the Presidents Clinton put a “FOR SALE” sign on every facet of their reign. There is a reason why retro-90’s chic has never been a thing. Most of us would prefer to forget that decade ever happened.

There is a possible upside to morons picking candidates. Iowa may be irrelevant when it comes to the Republican Party. And they only have themselves to blame if this is true.

In 2008, Iowa Republicans went for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Back then, Huckabee was not anything close to the Cthulu-esque flesh-eater he is today. Heck, even I liked him! But he had no appeal outside of social conservative circles. He faded soon after he left King Corn Country.

In 2012, with candidates for the Republican nomination grotesquely pandering to the lunatic fringe of the Religious Right, Iowans ignored the memo ordering them to anoint Mitt Romney. They gave the W to Rick Santorum.

I loved Santorum when he was the United States senator from my home state of Pennsylvania. I voted for him in 1994 and 2000. I did not feel my disagreement with him on many social issues disqualified him from my approval. And he would have made a great president…but no one from Middle America would vote for him. He made a good run at the nomination, but Romney was a juggernaut too big to lose. Well, at least not until November.

This is the problem Iowa keeps shoving in the faces of the American electorate. Their shrieking clarion call for social conservatives to be the nominee is being trumpeted (PUN ALERT) into deaf ears. And now they want Trump? It makes no sense.

Iowa should not be the first voters, Democrats or Republicans, to have their say regarding the most powerful position on this planet. They are not qualified enough. They are not diverse enough. They are not pragmatic enough. And given their recent record regarding who should be the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, they are not sane enough.

Sixty days away. Iowa can right their ship and regain a level of respect that should be prevalent for the first voters in the nation; or, they can continue to plummet into the obscurity usually reserved for that crazy uncle who spouts off at family functions but is never taken seriously.

Originally posted in the Cache Valley Daily. Reposted with permission. 

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