I live in Iowa…first in the nation, Iowa. This is the state that within hours of the general election results being announced next November, will be inundated with the potential Presidential nominees.
Iowa, along with New Hampshire and South Carolina are three small states that make it easy to conduct a campaign. Relatively inexpensive media markets, strong grassroots volunteers willing to work hard, and ease of travel throughout the state are three of the major reasons that the national parties allow these states with a combined population of about 9,000,000 people to have the most influence in who will be the eventual nominee of their respective party for the nomination for President.
Given my recent experience in an election in Iowa, I saw up close and personal the influence of Presidential politics on state primaries. Our campaign was listed on the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Campaign) list of Young Guns “on the radar”. None of our other three opponents were listed. After we met their criteria, what did they do for our campaign, other than list us on their website? Nothing…nada…zippo! When I contacted them about having someone come to the district to publicly endorse our candidate and help with fundraising the answer was,” No, we can not do that in a primary”. Why is that? Well, it is very simple: In Iowa, a potential Presidential candidate (and I have come to believe that just about every Congressman and Senator sees themselves as that) can not take the chance of possibly alienating any potential grassroots political activists (aka grunt workers in the campaign) for any future campaign. To say that I was disappointed with the NRCC and the Young Guns program is a monumental understatement.
This program for which Paul Ryan and other Republican House leaders tout as a method to get the best candidates to run in primaries to help bring about Republican victories and help to win back a majority in the House is a joke. I realized this during the campaign, and given that the two candidates in Iowa, Rob Gettemy and Jim Gibbons who had this designation both lost on Tuesday should tell you something. It is all talk and absolutely no substance.
It is the classic case of talking the talk, but not walking the walk. And it is all about the Presidential primary..it is pervasive here. You can hardly run for County Supervisor in this state without having to be cautious about who you may or may not have on board for fear of causing a ripple in the bigger picture in this state which is the Presidential candidate selection process.
The choice for members of Congress should have no connection to the choice of the President. They are two separate branches of our government and developed by our Founders to insure that we had a government where checks and balances are built-in. But when Congressional candidates that have core conservative values and represent what it seems that the national party wants then can get no help from that same entity is the very reason why there are not more core conservatives that are willing to run. I am certain that a pro-life candidate would not get the NRCC nod. Thus, if the candidate that they choose to “endorse” (and believe me that is not what their list is) shares their core beliefs why not put the horsepower behind that candidate to get him/her elected? If not, then don’t waste their time with filling out your forms and jumping through the hoops to get this distinction.
It is a major problem that the Iowa GOP and the RNC as a whole have and will continue to have in the future. We are either the party of Reagan or Rockefeller–we need to make a choice and then be committed to those candidates which espouse that theory, what every it may be. The “big tent” scenario has not worked. As Republicans we need to decide who we are and knock off all of this party unity crap. I can not nor will not vote for a candidate purely because there is an “R” behind their name. I will apply Reagan’s 80/20 rule, that I need to agree with the person 80% of the time, but I also need to know the character of that person and the willingness that they have to stick to their principles and not become mired in the muck that is the cesspool of government at any level.
Unfortunately in a year, when it seems that the country realizes that there is something fundamentally wrong with the liberal, Western European socialist turn that this country has taken, if we have core conservatives as our candidates then the Republicans can win the majority back in the House and maybe the Senate. But if we do not offer a clear choice to the liberals, then we are doomed to fail…again.
The Republican Party has about 5 months to discover its true soul or face the possibility of extinction. It needs to fight for those candidates who represent the values of smaller, less intrusive government, more personal responsibility, strong national defense, and a prudent fiscal policy. There is a lot of rhetoric out there, make sure that you listen closely.
As a PS…Iowa and South Carolina, two of those states that I mentioned….well, they both had gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday. Nikki Haley won in South Carolina. Terry Branstad in Iowa. Nikki is new on the political scene, and attractive young woman of Native American descent who could become the first female governor of South Carolina. Terry Branstad is a 63-year-old, former 4-term governor of Iowa, who has returned to politics after a 12 year absence.
Interesting contrast here…but there is one very significant common thread. They were both endorsed by Sarah Palin. What do you think that is about?