The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislatureâ€™s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.
There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last yearâ€™s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.
While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting bills introduced that we will also be following.
As of now the bills and issues outside â€œthe big 4â€ that we have flagged to watch closely are as follows: Term limits, random drug testing for recipients 84th of certain state benefits, banning red light and speed cameras, and the fate of nuclear power in Iowa.
After being deluged for so many months with candidates and their ever changing poll numbers, it is easy to forget that in many ways the caucus season is an imperfect method for measuring Iowaâ€™s current ideological perspective. Removing the factors attached to individual candidates such as â€œlikeabilityâ€ and â€œelectabilityâ€, and instead gauging the debate and the public reaction of Iowans to more hyper-local issues is a far more telling indicator of where we stand. Ironically these debates and their results likely will tip our hand as to which Presidential candidate will be awarded our 6 electoral votes in November.
In the following weeks stay tuned for investigations, updates, analysis, and opinions on the major issues being debated at the State House. As mentioned earlier, while we will not ignore the most publicized topics of debate this session, a number of bills that will exist in the shadows of the major priorities are just as important.
Though we will be closely watching with an appropriate level of skepticism, we wish all those involved with the 84th General Assembly well in their efforts to make improvements for all Iowans. When we feel they have achieved improvementâ€”we will trumpet it. When we feel they have caused damage to our way of lifeâ€”they will be called to account.
On with Democracy…
We will have results of tonight’s caucus available here at The Conservative Reader as soon as the information is available from the Republican Party of Iowa. Â We will have a Google map setup showing the results in near-real time as results are tabulated starting at 6:00 PM. Â Be sure to attend your caucus, then check in with TCR for caucus results tonight and analysis on Wednesday.
Caucus Locator Service
First of all, if you live in Iowa and donâ€™t know for sure where your caucus site is located, youâ€™ll want to click this link to find it. Â If you still canâ€™t figure it out (donâ€™t be ashamedâ€¦ it can be challenging) we want to help. Â Please email us at [email protected]. Â Please include your name, email address and home address (I promise we will not keep this information for any reason). Â We will reply as quickly as possible with your caucus location.
Candidates for President
If you havenâ€™t yet taken a look at the candidates, there any number of resources available to do so. Â I think it is a good idea, more than anything, to look at the candidatesâ€™ web sites and see what they have to say for themselves there. Â Here are the links to those sites:
Herman Cain (included because he is still listed as a candidate officially)
Other Caucus Information
The Iowa Caucus is often looked upon, along with the New Hampshire Primary, as a bell-weather for the entire Presidential Nominating Process. Â Some very important points:
- The Iowa Caucus occurs every two years.
- The purpose of the Iowa Caucus is to discuss and decide on components of the party platform, elect convention delegates to the County Convention, elect representatives to the County Central Committees, and during the year of a Presidential Election to poll party members on their preferences for the partyâ€™s candidate for President.
- This is a party activity and only members of the party that are residents of the precinct may participate at a precinct caucus, although others may be granted opportunity to speak by the Chair.
- Any resident of the caucus precinct can register to become a party member at the caucus event.
- The caucus meeting is governed by Robertâ€™s Rules of Order.
The following are some additional details provided by the Iowa GOP:
Below is a detailed overview of what will happen at 1,774 precincts in the state of Iowa on caucus night, January 3, 2012.
- All caucus participants arrive at their precincts where they will sign in at the door upon arrival.Â Caucuses will begin at 7:00PM CT.
- The caucus meetings begin with the pledge of allegiance.Â A caucus chair and secretary will be elected by the body to run the meeting and take notes.
- After the chair and secretary are elected, candidate representatives from each campaign are given time to speak on behalf of their candidate.
- Once the speakers have finished, sheets of paper are be passed out to every registered Iowa Republican from the precinct. Voters then write down their candidate preference.
- All votes are then collected.
- Every vote is counted.Â The caucus chair and secretary will count the votes in front of the caucus and a representative from each campaign is allowed to observe the counting of the votes. The results are recorded on an official form provided by the Republican Party of Iowa and are announced to the caucus.
- A caucus reporter is chosen to report the results to the Republican Party of Iowa, accompanied by campaign representatives to verify the results reported to Iowa GOP officials.
- RPI officials do not count results; they aggregate them from around the state and report them to the media.Â To ensure consistency in reporting, campaign representatives have the opportunity to be present with RPI officials as votes are reported to the public.
- We will be reporting the votes for Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, â€œNo Preference,â€ and â€œOther.â€
- â€œNo Preferenceâ€ votes include those who vote â€œpresent,â€ â€œno preference, â€œuncommitted,â€ or â€œnone of the above.â€
- Within fourteen days of the caucus, certified results will be released for a complete breakdown of all caucus votes that were cast by precinct.
- After the Presidential preference poll is completed the caucus will elect precinct committee representatives; delegates, alternates, and junior delegates to the county convention; and discuss and submit platform resolutions for consideration at the county convention.
For any other questions or inquiries please contact Nicole Sizemore at [email protected] or at 515-868-2507.
It has been difficult to follow the Republican Presidential Campaign this year to the depth that I would like to, partly because of my own time constraints and partly because there is just so much happening all the time. Â It seems like every week there is a new bomb-shell to analyze, a new complaint by one campaign about either another campaign or the press, stumbling by candidates on the debate stage or in an interview or just in general campaign failures such as the Virginia debacle. Â And the mud contains so much manure that Iâ€™m glad I have iTunes to purchase much of my television programming from so I donâ€™t even have to fast-forward past the political ads. Â And donâ€™t get me started about the Occupy Movementâ€™s plans to disrupt the Iowa Caucus.
But the whole time working up to Christmas has been downright cheery compared to this week.
Campaigns are imploding. Â Others are gaining steam. Â But more than anything, it seems that people are so invested in this yearâ€™s campaign that they are willing to do just about anything to see their candidate win. Â Iâ€™ve even felt some of this for the candidate that I am (privately) supporting. Â I visited with the campaign office and was asked to stand up for my candidate. Â At first I agreed, and then as I discussed this with my wife I realized that I was making a mistake by doing this when I had committed to remaining neutral. Â Obviously, the perceived need to see the outcome I desire had clouded my mind.
Sometimes God shows you why he gives you a spouse.
So, I had to tell the campaign I was not going to be able to speak for them. Â They were very understanding, but I hope I get better at this!
But others this week have showed how much they cannot stick to their commitments, and it all seems to come from a desperate desire to be on the winning team. Â Unfortunately, politics tends to bend your principles and many become convinced that when it comes to politics, anything goes.
The most recent and public examples are Mike George at Strong America Now, and Kent Sorenson, both men I like and respect. Â I think they both have made mistakes in their recent decisions.
It may be a few months before it will make sense to ask this question of both men, but Iâ€™m wondering if after the dust has settled, theyâ€™ll be able to look back and say it was worth it. Â These are both men who have made reputations for themselves based on principled leadership, and now they leave many people wondering whether they can trust anyone. Â The truth is, these guys are taking shortcuts, and theyâ€™re both getting called out on it. Â It may have some personal value to them in the short-run, but I expect they have both lost enough of peopleâ€™s respect now to truly marginalize their influence in the future.
I hope that as voters, we donâ€™t allow ourselves to be influenced one way or the other by the sideshows that are going on, or by poll results, but make our decisions based on our own principles, convictions, and priorities, and not simply the endorsements of others. Â Everyone should set their own guidelines, but I think it is careless to rely simply upon the recommendation of friends, acquaintances, or people who seem to know what they are doing, when deciding who we support for public offices such as President. Â If you are intelligent enough to read this piece, you can do the research necessary to make your own informed choice.
â€œAfter carefully considering the whole situation, I stand with my backÂ toÂ the wall. And walking is better, than running awayâ€¦and crawling ainâ€™t no good at allâ€
Willie Nelsonâ€”Lyrics to â€œWalkingâ€ (1974)
While not known for his astute political analysis, with these lyrics Willie Nelson has managed to perfectly describe the conundrum myself and millions of other voters face in selecting a candidate to support for president amongst the Republican field.
For months now GOPers have been carefully considering the whole situation, and have yet to settle on anyone. With the voting only two weeks away a majority of those undecided now officially are standing with their backsÂ againstÂ the wall.
In this regard I am no differentâ€”laid here are the reasons I am currently walking, and not running, toward Newt Gingrich. Like any well thought out decision there are three main factors at playâ€”the mind, the gut, and the legitimate reservations. The following is an honest, pull-no-punches account of my thought process for each.
The reason why the polls have been a roller coaster in this cycle is fairly simpleâ€”you have a massive pool of Conservative voters and not one single, unquestionably consistent Conservative, who couldÂ certainly beat President Obama. My sense is that the field does have strong Conservatives, namely Bachmann and Santorum, but neither have been able to garner the support necessary to win the White Houseâ€”and Ron Paul will have to be addressed in full at some other time. As the polls suggest, the two with the best chance at unseating Obama are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
This being the case, the exercise has come down to a question of who I feel is more Conservative between the two and who has the better chance of successfully vocalizing Conservative philosophy to the general electorate. On both counts my answer is Newt Gingrich. As we have seen in the Republican primary, the debates between President Obama and the Republican nominee are going to be viewed by a record amount of people and will largely be the deciding factor for Independents.
Perhaps no figure in modern political history has more of a gift for the debate stage than Newt Gingrich. Making this an even larger advantage is the mythic narrative that President Obama is some legendary debater. While last cycle he may have gotten the better of Hillary Clinton and John McCain overall, he never blew either off the stage (and managed to lose to both on multiple occasions).
Along with his debate prowess, there are two other things that make me comfortable with the idea of Newt as the nominee and as President. First is his deep understanding and respect for history. Whether it be American or world history, his decision making process would be solidly grounded in the actions and outcomes of past situations. I happen to think that had the filter of history been applied to many of the decisions made by our last two presidents, many of the undesirable results we have seen could have been avoided.
Second is the structure and proven results of the concept of a â€œContract with Americaâ€. The 1994 contract saw roughly 70% of its content become lawâ€”and that was with a Democrat in the White House. Any Republican taking a serious look at his â€œ21st Century Contract with Americaâ€ would likely agree that achieving even 50% of its content would result in our Country standing on immensely more solid ground than it is currently. Clearly there is no time now to go through the platform item by item, however, you can review it in detail or read a brief highlight of it here. It is only fair that serious Republicans inspect this document before discounting Mr. Gingrich.
The biggest source of apprehension I have toward Mitt Romney is his striking similarity to our 43rd president. George W. Bushâ€™s eight year application of a watered down â€œcompassionate Conservatismâ€ did a great deal of damage to the viability of the philosophy. I canâ€™t help but shake the feeling that when inevitably faced with unpredicted situations, a President Romney would not be guided through these times of crisis by Constitutional Conservatism. Instead I see him falling back on the identical political pragmatism that Mr. Bush turned to when the pressure was on.
While certainly not without its own risks, I also prefer Gingrichâ€™s personality to Romneyâ€™s in the area of foreign policy. My view is that in general, and especially with the Iranian nuclear situation, many of Americaâ€™s national security interests can be forwarded through an aggressive posture. Though it is a fine line to walk, putting a reasonable fear into rogue nations couldâ€”as proven by Reaganâ€”actually help us avoid potential conflicts. A Romney-foreign-policy approach would likely be strictly by the book (i.e. painfully cautious and deferential), and result in a more-of-the-same outcome. Though I see positives in both approaches, I feel our enemies would have a greater fear of (and hence a greater respect for) a President Gingrich.
At a time when a dramatic move toward the Right is a legitimate possibility, on nearly every issue Mitt Romney is far too timid for my taste. One perfect example is in the area of Federal income tax policy. The enthusiasm throughout the country for major tax reform has never been greater, yet in this climate the proposal offered from Romney is to keep the top rate at 35% and largely leave the current structure intact. Though it could use some tweaking, the Gingrich proposal is for an optional 15% flat tax, where each taxpayer could choose to use the old system or opt for the flat rate. This is emblematic of the level of change the former Speaker is willing to push forâ€”and the type of transformation Mitt Romney will never champion.
The fact that a voter would have reservations about their candidate is only natural. Having said that, the lengthy nature of his list points to why I am walking, and not running, toward Mr. Gingrich.
According to my television and mailbox, and no doubt yours too, not only should Gingrich be checked off our short listâ€”he should be arrested and checked in to Guantanamo Bay. These attacks are largely overblown rubbish, but there are three main factors I view as legitimate reasons for apprehension. Like Romney, Newtâ€™s career includes multiple examples of unsettling â€œpolitical flexibilityâ€, his past personal life has often been a mess, and a rather large number of his former Republican colleagues have been outspoken against him (noteworthy on this list for me is Tom Coburn, whom I respect greatly).
Quite honestly these things have made the decision a far more anguished one than it has been in the pastâ€”or that it ought to be I might add. If I insisted on taking solace it would be found in the fact that while both candidates I view as being able to win the nomination and defeat President Obama have strong negativesâ€”both would be an upgrade for the Country.
I personally want the Republican Party, and the Country, to move significantly to the Right. I want the 10th Amendment to be respected, the enumerated powers to be followed, and for personal responsibility to once again be required and not optional. I do not see Mitt Romney doing this to the extent I want. In my eyes Newt Gingrich is, as George Will says, the most Conservative candidate who can win.
Like it will for many voters, my decision largely came down to a risk vs. reward ratioâ€”and there is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would be the safer choice. Given the circumstances, what America needs right now is a real and powerful constraint on Federal power. Of the nationally viable candidates, Gingrichâ€”and the 21st Century Contractâ€”comes the closest to my vision of a positive American futureâ€¦For this reason I am willing to roll the dice.
Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, whose outstanding work can be seen at Prezography.com