Jewish World Review Nov 22, 2011 / 25 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Iowa: Vital to GOP now, irrelevant later
By Dan K. Thomasson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There are several reasons why Iowa is not a good place for the initial test in choosing a presidential nominee.
First among these is that what takes place there this January is not a primary but a caucus. Until the mid 1970s, it played no real part in the national political nominating process.
More importantly, the state lacks the philosophical and ethnic diversity of the national electorate that ultimately will decide the winner a year from now. As far as Republicans are concerned, its ideological base is heavily oriented toward social conservatism. Electability is less of a concern, it seems.
As a rural candidate, Jimmy Carter understood this and stole the march on his opponents here in 1976, convincing Democrats he was a born-again Christian who had the right slant on social issues. By the time his more liberal opponents caught on, he was too far ahead to stop. Former Arkansas governor and preacher Mike Huckabee won these caucuses four years ago with much of the same support. Huckabee, however, failed to win the nomination from voters less concerned about evangelism.
But the evangelical influence remains a strong factor and the fact a flock of GOP presidential hopefuls with the exception of Mitt Romney all scrambled to Des Moines over the weekend to swear their allegiance to and outline their plans for defending the proper moral values is a good reason to be concerned about the influence this state enjoys in the current political campaign. This took place at a forum of the state's leading born-again religious leaders and supporters and was moderated by national political strategist, Frank Luntz. To understand the significance of this one need only realize that some 2,000 like-minded Iowans attended.
Romney has not spent time on such religiously tinted issues as abortion, gay marriage and child adoption, preferring to stick to the troubled economy, joblessness and foreign policy as his main points. He just recently decided to make a push in Iowa where he lost in 2008 largely because of the social conservatives who are concerned, among other things, about the fact he is an active member of the Mormon church, a cult in the eyes of some.
The six candidates who did show up swore to right the wrongs of the Supreme Court and secularism in dealing with what is most important to the evangelical movement. That apparently isn't the economy or the national debt or any of the other issues that seem to concern most Americans and probably will be the leading factors in deciding whether or not Barack Obama remains in the White House.
When Carter came to Iowa, the social issues of the day were prayer in schools, taking God out of the pledge of allegiance and certainly abortion. Gay rights were hardly on the agenda and obviously not gay marriage or the adoption of children by gay couples. These issues seem to be pretty standard ultra-conservative dogma and they clearly could get in the way of Romney's hopes of getting a quick leg up on the nomination by winning in Iowa.
At the same time, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is edging up in the polls, could benefit dramatically if he is able to shake off questions about his potential conflicts of interest and two divorces. He appealed to the basic self-reliance of those attending the forum by saying he had one piece of advice to participants in the national Occupy movement: "Go get a job right after you take a bath." How clever . . . and about too callous by half.
Two things about that statement missing from reports on the forum were whether he received an ovation for this remark and whether he had any advice as to where the jobs might come from. That would have been helpful considering a huge number of college graduates, many of whom belong to or are sympathetic to the Occupy movement, are having difficulty finding work.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who unfortunately decided not to run, had a good idea when he called for a moratorium on social issues to deal with crushing debt, hungry bellies and a dim future.
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