The clown now leads the circus, Paul takes lead in Iowa

December 22, 2011

The best Christmas present ever for this political junkie arrived with this morning’s edition of Morning Joe in the form of the latest Iowa State University/gazette/KCRG polll showing Ron Paul now leading the Republican pack among likely Iowa caucus voters.

Paul tops the field with 28 percent, followed by merry ol Newt at 25 percent, Romney 18 percent and the bottom three rounded out by Perry (11percent), Bachmann (7 percent) and virtually transplanted Iowan, Rick Santorum with a hardly worth the effort anymore 5 percent.

Over the past few months, every “anti-Romney” candidate in the field has topped the polls in one state or poll after another so it’s only fitting that Paul finally get his chance. And that chance couldn’t come at a better time from your humble correspondent’s perspective.

While many of the libertarian firebrand’s domestic policy ideas have merit, his foreign policy is a disaster. (Think Obama on steroids.) In the world of Ron Paul, Iran is no threat at all and in fact its (Iran’s) and other nations’ hostility towards the United States is mainly the cause of the United States.

No doubt, we’ve made our share of foreign policy mistakes over the years, but to carry that so far as to blame us for the rise in terrorism and violence around the world today is a stretch the requires suspension of reason and logic.

But I digress. Why so giddy with delight that Paul is surging now?

Because it makes it entirely possible that by peaking now he could actually win the Iowa caucuses. And in so doing, once and for all (or at least for the next few election cycles), end Iowa’s “reign of pomposity” upon the American electorate.

For a Paul win in Iowa would cement the absurdity of a process that nominates a completely “un”-nominatable candidate just because said candidate has a “good ground game”.

As an indicator of picking the eventual nominee the record is mixed. Ronald Reagan didn’t win in 1980 and in 2008 Mike Huckabee did win. Not exactly a record showing deep insight into the body politic.

And that’s the point. The Iowa caucuses are much less about actual political insight and much more about a process and a state that was thrust into the spot light by the New York Times in ’72 and liked the publicity so much it now fights tooth and nail to protect its disproportionate share of that election year spotlight.

Rather than actually predicting who would make a good President (for crying out loud, Obama won the democrat caucus in ’08) it is more merely but a test of a candidate’s ability to organize his/her most fervent supporters to attend one of over 1700 precinct meetings and wear down the others until your candidate is the last one standing and “walla”…….the “winner” of the media circus known as the Iowa caucuses.

This is not a hit piece against Iowa. The caucus system is democracy in its purest form and for that Iowans should be commended for keeping such a tradition alive.

It is however a desire to bring about a more orderly and proportionally weighted system of picking delegates to the national conventions which eventually decide which of the “lesser of two evils” we’re going to put in the Oval Office for the next four years.

Since the ’72 New York Times piece highlighting its process, Iowa has been determined to be the “first in the nation” on the primary calendar for both major political parties.

The result is a Presidential primary season starting well before the next election is even a year away, let alone a few months.

The result is a disproportionate amount of media coverage and attention upon one state that produces barely one percent of the total nominating delegates and as history shows, isn’t even consistent in picking the ultimate winner.

In the past couple of decades we, as a nation, have slipped deeper and deeper into a perpetual election cycle. Obama’s coronation was barely over when the plotting, planning and punditry began about how and who would run against him.

And part of the reason for that perpetual election is the schizophrenic primary system. Instead of spending time with their families during the most important season of the year, candidates and reporters are traipsing around Iowa in the dead of winter interrupting the season for both the Iowans on the ground and the nation on TV. Most Americans have not a clue as to the goings on in Iowa over the holidays and barely even notice the “winner” a few days after their New Year’s day hangover.

Then it’s off to the first in the nation “primary” in New Hampshire. Yet another disproportionate absorber of the political spotlight.

To all who know me, you know my respect and reverence for our traditions, my abhorrence at the trampling of the tenth amendment by over active Congresses and Judges, but for the life of me I just cannot see how this current system in anyway provides for a “valued tradition” that should be treasured or is a shining example of how states rights strengthen the fabric of the Republic.

If the calendar order has to be kept to comply with state constitutions so be it. But at least push that calendar back a couple months. Get past the holidays and allow the better weather to provide for better exposure and more active engagement by all.

Even P.T. Barnum knew you “wintered” in the “winter” and brought out the show in the spring.

Forcing the circus upon the American electorate in the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire may help the media fill air time and column inches but it certainly doesn’t provide for a more informed and engaged electorate.

If it were a food, the current process would be something like fried butter for an appetizer with fried pork chops for the entree and a funnel cake for desert.

It’s not healthy for the nation, and in the overall scheme of things it’s not healthy for Iowa either.



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