Years ago John Sununu, Governor of New Hampshire said, “Iowa picks corn, and New Hampshire picks presidents.” He was chiding Iowa over the first in the nation status in the caucus/primary sweepstakes. He was half right Iowa picks a lot of corn because we’re number at growing it. Jon Huntsman erroneously used that logic in 2012. If you are like me you are sick and tired of the phone calls, emails, TV commercials, and mailboxes stuffed with political flyers. On February 1st, it will all be over, but until then we are on the clock to pick our next Presidential nominees.
Iowa’s demographics may not be as diverse as the rest of the country, but we still have a good cross section of people with common sense. Iowa’s economy is growing more diverse. It hosts a strong financial and insurance industry and a growing tech industry along with agriculture. It has a high percentage of small business owners including our farmers which makes taxes and regulations an important issue. Iowa has a lot of varying views on Presidential qualities. Neither party dominates in the state, just look at two of the country’s longest serving US Senators Tom Harkin (D), recently retired, and Charles Grassley(R) who have both been supported by voters since the early 1980’s. The Iowa Statehouse is split as is our US Congressional delegation.
Flyover State, America’s Heartland, and the Midwest a place where folks cling to their guns and Bibles are anecdotes that have been used to describe Iowa during election cycles. Iowa represents the best of America, we still hold many of the traditional values our country was founded upon, but we also have many voters that are more liberal in their views- after all someone must still subscribe to the Des Moines Register. The coasts where the population is dense fret a lot about Iowa’s first in the nation position for Presidential nominations. Our unique caucus system puts pressure on candidates to visit and meet citizens. All of the robo-calls in the world are worthless in Iowa if you have not had a town hall meeting at the Pizza Ranch or community center. Iowans value their opportunity to grill the candidates on food, farm, and issues important to rural Americans.
The caucus gives Iowans an important role in “thinning the herd” each Presidential election cycle. Iowa has also been a breath of life to campaigns like Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, both of whom were struggling until caucus supporters turned out for them. The Iowa Caucus gives us a chance to flex some muscle into the selection process for President. Each of us should take this opportunity seriously.
We have our issues to evaluate candidates on, and we should also look at the issues that are important to agriculture. If Iowa doesn’t who will? What are the candidates’ position on the farm bill, clean water act, federal budget, international trade, renewable energy, taxes, and biotechnology labeling? A lot of these topics aren’t in the debates or advertisements, but they impact us nearly every day. On caucus night don’t stop with the vote, speak up at the meeting and share your thoughts to make sure the issues important to you are discussed as the party platform is built. We only have a few days left to have an influence on these issues.