Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Abe Would Say, Hooray for Iowa


Every presidential primary season, one hears a litany of complaints about the unfairness of the process: reform is needed; it’s all about the money; the calendar is unbalanced; it’s too long; it’s too short; some states are favored; others ignored.

But let’s take up one point that really galls many national media-types. They hate the prominence given to Iowa. In their view, it’s a state unworthy of the attention it gets. It’s too small, too rural, too far from major cities, and nothing like the East or West Coasts. It isn’t even southern, so the reporters can’t make fun of the accents. My response is, God bless Iowa.

Sure, televised debates are terrific about putting the presidential candidates through their paces. But it’s Iowa that forces its suitors to scamper about in the cold, doing up-close retail indoor politics with regular people – ones, who unlike Diane Sawyer, aren’t primarily focused on gay life style issues.

Look at how this season’s Iowa caucuses turned out. Rick Santorum, who was barely noticed by debate moderators, managed to defeat the heavily financed front-running Mitt Romney. As it turned out, it wasn’t all about the money or the television coverage – there was a need for real campaigning. One couldn’t expect to win simply by buying up all the media advertising time. No, a candidate had to go through the painstaking process of organizing his supporters on a county by county basis. Thousands of people had to be persuaded on an individual basis to support a particular candidate by coming out on a dreary evening to attend a small precinct caucus – perhaps in someone’s living room. Think about how many local personal appeals, involving phone calls and email messages between people who actually came to know each other, had to be made to win such a process.

Then consider how little of that kind of activity will happen in a state like Ohio. Sure, prior to the March 6 primary, plenty of money will be spent on radio and TV ads, most of them negative. There’ll be a few candidate photo opportunities at this or that staged event. At home, you may get a few annoying robo calls. But there’ll be precious little of the personal touch. There’ll be practically no rubbing of elbows with fellow party members on the grassroots precinct level. Sadly, in Ohio, we can’t be bothered with retail politics… and it’s a shame. The more distant our candidates and their campaigns are from us, the less responsive they are.

Something to leave you with. Newt Gingrich brought renewed attention to the famous Lincoln – Douglas debates. These debates were held in seven of the nine existing congressional districts within the state of Illinois, prior to the general election of 1858. Stephen Douglas, the incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator, and Abraham Lincoln, a Republican Senatorial candidate, were trying to bolster grassroots campaigns by their local parties to win a majority of the legislative seats in the Illinois State House. In those days, prior to the regrettable 17th Amendment, U.S. Senators were elected by state legislators (as they should be today). After the debates, you might favor Douglas or Lincoln. But to do either one any good, you had to translate your preference to a vote for a local legislative candidate.

The population of Illinois at that time was roughly half the size of present-day Iowa. In other words, Abe Lincoln first came to national prominence in 1858 by tromping about Illinois doing much the same kind of retail politics presidential candidates are doing every four years in modern-day Iowa. And I’m all for it.

You can have your remote, sterile primary contests focused on big media buys. I think we’d be better off with the knock-around, grassroots-oriented, local caucus approach. If the Democrats want to use it to nominate a Barack Obama, that’s fine, let them. But I want a process that gives my party a better shot at producing guys like Lincoln.

Note: each contributor at 3BP has their own favorite in the GOP race. One opinion for or against a certain candidate is not necessarily shared by other contributors.

Update: 7:40 pm 2/13/12 fixed typo and moved disclaimer to the end.

9 comments:

  1. Abe would be spinning in his grave if he could see what passes for the Republican Party in this day and age.

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    1. If John Kennedy was still alive he would be so upset at what the Democrat Party has become he may not even be able to have anymore affairs.

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  2. Yeah, trying not to exclude anyone from the American dream, those pesky democrats and thief wanting everyone to he treated the way the Republicans treat rich white guys... As I tell people all the time, I don't leave the Republican party, it left me. When they scream about a war on religion, then go attacking Islam, when they scream about freedoms being taken away, then try to keep gays from adopting children, basically when they started pandering to the Christian right, they left me. When they have a candidate who says that women who get pregnant via rape should just "make the best of a bad situation" they proved that they are pretty much off the rails...

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    1. Exclude anyone from the American Dream? Visit Cleveland, look what the Democrat party has done to minority families. They have destroyed them by making them dependent on the scraps from the Rich White Democrats table.

      Lets see, Sherrod Brown is a rich white man, John Kerry is a rich white man, Sean penn is a rich white man, Ted Strickland, John Stewart, Keith Olberman, Joe Biden, Barak Obama (1/2 at least), the list goes on and on, Democrats are rich and white too, the only difference is that republicans refuse to put people in groups. We want everyone to succeed.

      Democrats tell minorities from birth that you have no chance to succeed, but here's enough to buy food and shelter and just vote for us so that your kids can have this same life. It's an atrocity.

      If believing in god in your mind disqualifies a political party, than good riddance to you. Vote democrat and enjoy the scraps that another rich white man (kind of), Nancy Pelosi throws to you.

      Santorium does not like the idea of killing babies in any situation, not sure how that makes him a bad person.

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  3. Explain to me how a cluster of cells is a "baby" in the first 48 hours? Santorum is against contraception because it "encourages behaviors in the sexual relm" Santorum is against science.

    The guy is against women having any kind of real rights. Need proof? Look at his statement about women in combat. Dont want to look it up? I found it for you

    "I think that could be a very compromising situation where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved,” Santorum said. “I don't think that's in the best interest of men, women or the mission."

    "It's just simply the emotions of men dealing with women in combat and not focusing on potentially on the mission instead of ... in protecting a natural instinct to protect someone who's a female"

    The guy is the perfect candidate if it was the year 1301

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    1. Simple, you were once a cluster of cells. I have 2 kids that were clusters of cells, now that are very cute and say funny things. Santorium believes conception starts at birth, why hate on the man for have strong morals?

      Women can do many things, many of them better than men. I would agree with Santorium that women on the front lines is not in the best interest of anyone. Physically, emotionally and if they are taken alive by the enemy it can get very ugly for women. He speaks rationally and truthfully, this is an outrage to democrats who wish to create a society were no one says anything controversially or hurtful.

      Why do you even read this site? Go to Moderns Utopia of garbage and sunflowers and feel good about attacking people because they believe in god.

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  4. I have two kids of my own, and they do cute things too. However, if someone raped and impregnated my daughter, there is no way in hell I would EVER make her carry said child unless she chose to do so.

    I come to this site because I do actually agree with a lot of the things these guys say. What I cant deal with are total wingnuts like you who gives conservatives a bad name...

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  5. One only has to look at his screen name, "RamboMan", with an exclamation point yet, to get an inkling of his mentality.

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