- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2011

Over the years, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing within the ruling class and media intelligentsia about the prominent role Iowa plays in the presidential campaign thanks to its first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Iowa is too white and too religious for their liking, and that means we’re out of the mainstream to many of these folks. Take 2008, for example, when the media anointed Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney as the ones to beat in that caucus cycle. Instead, both of those well-funded front-runners were dealt crushing defeats from which their campaigns never recovered.

Conventional wisdom tried to explain away Mike Huckabee’s victory as simply identity-based politics courtesy of Iowa’s massive evangelical population mind- lessly flocking to the polls to vote for one of their own. However, that doesn’t explain Barack Obama’s upset win in a state that lacks racial diversity, and it also doesn’t explain the surprising showings of Catholics like Alan Keyes and Pat Buchanan in past caucuses that were just as dominated by evangelicals.

Though it is true that Iowa is a very white state whose political grass roots are dominated by Christian conservatives, the collective gnashing of teeth by the ruling class about the Iowa caucuses misses the point of why so many upstarts do well in Iowa. If you’re not from Iowa or have never spent any meaningful time here, it’s something you wouldn’t understand.

Despite the fact Iowa is in many ways a throwback to a bygone era of Americana, it also is a state with a mean independent streak. Case in point: Registered independents have outnumbered both Republicans and Democrats for several years. Furthermore, while the rest of the country zigged with insurgent conservatives in 2010 primaries, Iowa zagged, going its own way and largely sticking with the party establishment.

Iowans do not like being dictated to by anybody, especially pretentious outsiders who think they know better simply because they come from places with more traffic and less fresh air. On the one hand, we Iowans are eager to claim any native son or daughter who leaves home and makes it on the big stage, yet on the other hand, we’re darned proud that most Iowans elect to stay home and not even try.

We want to be accepted by the best, but we don’t need to be.

Iowans take great pride in their first-in-the-nation role, and they also take that responsibility very seriously. Iowans meticulously vet candidates on the issues and make an effort to look them in the eye and size them up in person. While the ruling class and media intelligentsia simply look at fundraising numbers and endorsements and then tiers the candidates accordingly, Iowans refuse to allow candidates to hide behind such things and, instead, compel them to reveal their true character and worldview.

Not to mention that while Iowans recognize the importance of being the first step in the process, they also realize that the first step is just a step nonetheless. Therefore, Iowans at times will give a boost to candidates who may not have the wherewithal for the long haul of a presidential campaign but whose voices on certain issues deserve a national hearing they wouldn’t get without finishing strong in Iowa.

This is where those of you interested in seeing the Republicans nominate a true contrast to the leftist policies of the Obama regime in 2012 - as opposed to the next milquetoast old white guy in line the GOP typically nominates for president - come in.

If you’re one of the scores of conservatives nationwide unimpressed by most if not all of the potential 2012 GOP presidential field and think each of the potential candidates has a fatal flaw, or you’re one of the multitude of Americans who have experienced a civic revival in recent years and are yearning for a return to the ideals of our Founding Fathers, Iowans are uniquely positioned and equipped to help you.

As evidenced by our historic and recent judicial retention election, when Iowans made the extraordinary step of firing three State Supreme Court justices who had violated their oaths of office and the separation of powers by attempting to legislate a new morality from the bench, perhaps no people in any state in America are more on fire to rebuild the walls of the “City on a Hill” than Iowans are.

Iowans are poised to challenge these presidential candidates as they’ve never been challenged before, which will only make the most deserving better prepared for both the Obama campaign onslaught to come and the difficult effort to roll back and repeal President Obama’s un-American policies, should they win the general election.

Instead of imposing your blustery preconceived Beltway notions on Iowans during the next 12 months, and then getting in a huff when independent-minded Iowans go their own way, allow Iowans to do their patriotic duty. Get out of their way and give them the chance to test the mettle of those hoping to become the next commander in chief, who will inherit both a more dangerous world and a diminished America, thanks to Mr. Obama.

Steve Deace hosted a talk show on Iowa’s WHO-AM, where Ronald Reagan was sports director. Read his blog at SteveDeace.com.

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