I am from Iowa. I say that without reservation. I know a large chunk of the other forty-nine states don’t really know the difference between Iowa, Idaho, and Ohio, and many more could care less. I know that nobody knows anything about Iowa other than we have corn and pigs. Never mind that I’ve never lived on a farm and, as far as I know, pork chops grow in the ground, wrapped in plastic and show up in the grocery store. My wife, who did grow up on a farm, tries to tell me this isn’t true, but I choose not to believe. And I know that most of the world thinks the closest lily-white Iowa has ever gotten to a black man is casting James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams.” So it was fascinating that Barack Obama handily won the Iowa caucus. The television pundits were stunned – complete with dropped jaws – that “the whitest state in the country” as CNN’s Jack Cafferty put it – could bring itself to vote for someone who didn’t look exactly like Iowans supposedly do. To my knowledge, Barack Obama doesn’t even own bib overalls and a straw hat. For months, I’ve listened to people gripe about how Iowa doesn’t “deserve” it’s first in the nation status because it’s small and rural and supposedly not representative of the rest of the country. I have two thoughts about this: One, the top three candidates in Iowa on the Democratic side going in to the caucus were the same top three candidates in the rest of the country – Obama, Edwards, and Clinton. Obama won while the other two slugged it out for second place, with Edwards narrowly getting it. So as far as our voting, it appears we’re exactly like the rest of you. Two: who cares if Iowa went first? Vote however you want. If the results in Iowa sway voters in other states to vote a certain way, that’s your problem, not ours. We may have pigs in Iowa, but sounds like you guys are overrun by sheep.
On the Republican side, rich-guy Mitt Romney hugely outspent Mike Huckabee – who was all but dead in the water a few weeks ago – but got his gold-plated tuckus handed to him by the Arkansas governor. If Iowa doesn’t represent your values, does that mean you favor buying votes?
Also, consider this: the west and east coasts already overwhelmingly dictate what we watch on television, see in the theaters, and the content of our news media, books and magazines. What's so bad about letting another region of the country have a say?
New Hampshire primary voters went with McCain and Clinton. We already moved past Michigan where Romney prevailed. Would these results really have been any different if Iowa hadn't gone first? Really?
Now we're on the way to Nevada and South Carolina. Probably nobody remembers what happened in Iowa, at least not the numbers. But maybe the impressions, the feelings, the attitude, that came out of this tiny, insignificant little state will resonate. And not just by making Kevin Costner more money from “Field of Dreams” rentals.
Maybe some of you critics will start worrying more about the things that make us all members of one country, not just a collection of worthy and less-worthy states. One of those things is exercising our civic duty with care and conviction to vote for candidates who will represent not just ourselves, but everyone in the country.
And Iowa just did.
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