Witte: Why the Iowa Caucus does not matter


File photo: Iowa State Daily

Former Senator and U.S. President Barack Obama gives a speech to his supporters and major news agencies from accross the country after winning the democratic Iowa caucus with 37% of votes state-wide. “We are choosing hope over fear and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America,” said Obama.

Jacob Witte

In the last few weeks the political field has erupted with several states wanting to change the dates of their caucuses and primaries. The states involved are mainly Nevada, New Hampshire and, yours truly, Iowa. All of the commotion is about which state is going to be ‘First in the Nation’ to set the tone for the 2012 GOP nomination bid. Other states want to upend Iowa, who has had the first national electoral event of the nomination process since 1972, to which I say, let them.

Iowa has had the reign of ‘First in the Nation’ for 40 years now once this caucus occurs in a few months, which is a long time in the field of politics. Perhaps it is time for Iowa to give this up and let other states have a chance to have the first major decision in the country for who should be president.

The main reason why Iowa should not be the first voice this time around is because of the voting base that will be casting their ballots in February. Because this will be a GOP Caucus in 2012, conservative candidates will clearly be favorites of voters. And, because Iowa tends to be even more right-leaning than many other parts of the country due to the vast rural population, this could have negative implications on the caucus.

And let’s be honest folks, the people that will be voting in February (or January) for the next Republican Presidential Candidate are the same voters who chose not to retain three Supreme Court Justices because of the unanimous 2009 decision to legalize same sex marriage. These are also the same voters who voted in a slew of Tea Party candidates into the Iowa Statehouse, politicians who have tried to create laws that would let business owners discriminate on religious beliefs and to ban abortion, both being completely and abhorrently unconstitutional.

These instances point to a situation in which the most far-right-leaning candidates like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum will have more sway and garner more political capital than the more moderate, electable candidates like Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. This is damaging to the image of Iowa more than anything else; it makes our state look like a bunch of fringe voters who want only the most extreme candidates for president.

One group of people who this shake-up of caucuses does not affect is the politicians themselves. We have in this GOP field a group of politicians who pander to anyone who will cast them a vote. Whether they are lining up in droves at the Iowa State Fair eating [insert heart-stopping food-on-a-stick here] or telling people anything they want to hear on the stand at the fair (“Corporations are people too, my friend,” uttered by Mitt Romney), it is clear to see that this troupe of Republicans have little real political skill.

None of them, it seems, is so desperate to get a vote as Michele Bachmann, who paid out nearly $180,000 at the Ames Straw Poll for people to vote for her. She also claims that, although she moved away from Iowa at the young age of 13, “everything I needed to know, I learned in Iowa”. Really, Michele? Is this perhaps why your political ideology is tempered with selfishness and vanity? I digress.

I think that it is about time that Iowa gives up its title of ‘First in the Nation’ and let another state have it for a while. Until the conservative Right in this state becomes more moderate and less reactionary, Iowa will continue to be viewed in a negative light in terms of political awareness. And because other states, this year more than others, are clamoring to get their caucus and primary dates in before Iowa, we should just let them.