The Journeying Progressive

Deceiving Des Moines: Hijacking the 2012 Iowa Caucus

Flipping pancakes, judging cattle, husking corn.

Each year, Americans in forty-nine states wonder, "Why is the first (and arguably most heavily scrutinized) political contest of the presidential year in Iowa?"

Folks in the Hawkeye State don't wonder. They know.

Located near the middle of the country, Iowa is more than simply a convenient metaphor for middle-class America. Every four years, Iowans drag prospective presidential hopefuls out of the expensive Italian suits and $10,000 per plate "dinners" of high-minded society and put them into something more comfortable: a pair of jeans and a bucket of corn-on-the-cob.

Iowa gives America the chance to see a side of their candidates that money (literally) can't buy: character, warmth, authenticity and down-to-earth American goodness. In a political season where billions (!) of dollars will be passed around hands, Iowa cages the process and reminds deep-pocketed politicians that the presidency is about the people (,stupid).

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry: An Opposition Campaign Primer

Ah! Fresh meat!

That's what's on the mind of political pundits this week as they come down off the high of the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames. With nothing to report until--well--something unpredictable happens, or until the Iowa caucuses in January, the media and blogosphere will gush with pedantics about this outsider to the GOP fratricide-fest that has been the 2012 presidential nominating process thus far.

Unless something extraordinary happens, Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the GOP and Tea Party presidential nominee in 2012. He's the darling of the extreme right and can be stomached by party moderates who know Mitt Romney has no chance of winning the top spot on the ticket without flip-flopping on nearly all of his social positions. So, no big deal, we're looking at Rick Perry.

Here is some friendly advice that an opposing campaign should follow--Republican, Democrat or Independent:

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What Happens in a Bad Economy?

Politicians like to talk in abstractions.

Come to think of it, they like to argue and obfuscate in abstractions, as well. They campaign in abstractions and make abstract pledges until those abstractions turn into something tangible, like a subprime lending crisis or a downgrade from a particular private rating agency.

We spend so much time wading through abstractions that we cannot get to the meat of the issues that face us today. Enough of that.

What really happens in a bad economy? And what is the public's role during these tough times?

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"...Shall Not Perish From This Earth."

It has been a tough news weekend for the United States.

I've been blocking out news coverage today and cringing every time I hear a partisan or pundit prognosticate about the decline of America, or our supposed shuffle closer to doomsday.

My heart breaks hard every time I think about the selfless men and women we lost in Afghanistan this weekend. Brothers and sisters alike, it seems almost trivial to sit here tonight and type--a freedom they have won for me--while so many are facing grim realities and long, tense moments of combat half a world away.

It's easy to lose focus of who you are and what you stand for in times like these.

Tonight, I'm reminded of a famous speech given by a wartime American president from Illinois (emphasis added):

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

It is easy to cower in the face of disappointment or unspeakable tragedy, to cave to the demands of those playing the temporary game of political opportunism. In these times, we should not forget who we are:

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