Preparing for The Iowa Caucus

At this writing, we have 4 days remaining until the Iowa Caucus. I plan to attend the Republican Caucus in my precinct, and I do not yet know who I will vote for… but I’m narrowing it down.

Some background is in order.

The Iowa Caucus is conducted every two years. The purpose goes beyond just the presidential nominating process, but includes building grass-roots support for the party platforms as well. Iowans have caucused in the manner since 1846 except for 1916, when the state tried out primaries (a 25% turnout convinced the state to go back to caucusing).

Democrats and Republicans both caucus, but each a little differently. Democrats break up into groups at the caucus site based on which candidate they support. They then use a formula based on the number of attendees and the number of precinct representatives being elected. Republicans have some discussion time and then vote.

Iowa is not the only state that uses the caucus system. 11 others do as well. They are: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nevada, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Wyoming (thanks to wiki.answers.com). Iowa is the earliest, and comes before any of the primaries this year as well.

I will be taking my laptop with me to the event, although I doubt I’ll have wifi access (we’re meeting at a school up the street). I plan to at least have something posted that evening that can provide a little flavor of our little neck of the woods.

The Des Moines Register was kind enough to provide two sections today (one for the dems, the other for the pubs) regarding the choices, background, and blurbs on the each candidate’s position on 5 key issues. I was surprised at first that the Democrats had their list of issues, and the Republicans had a different set of issues. After I thought about it for a while, though, it sort of made sense in that Democrats and Republicans (and similarly, their respective voters) have different priorities (or at least, as perceived by the Des Moines Register). They were:

Democrats: Health Care, Economy/Jobs, Education, Iraq War, Foreign Relations

Republicans: National Security, Terrorism, Immigration, Tax Policy, Iraq War

What’s interesting to me, is that National Security, Terrorism and the Iraq War are all really one issue to me (that is, National Security). The principals involved in maintaining National Security should drive out decisions related to Terrorism and the Iraq Was, and also has an influence on Immigration Policy. You may also recall that I previously (on Nov 18) stated that the items that I thought were most important from the USA Today poll were: Iraq, Immigration, and Tax Reform.

However, I also stated there were areas, which can be boiled down to: National Security, Economy, and Foreign Relations (which ends up covering most of the Democrats list). I really have to add one more, however, which sounds like Tax Policy, and it’s related, but with some likelihood (I still have my hopes up) that the Democrats will hold onto power in Congress, it’s going to be important to know how the presidential candidates plan to deal with congressional spending.

With Health Care and Education sitting as key Democratic topics (both at the presidential and congressional levels of discussion), you know that we can expect some substantial program planning over the next few years in these areas that frankly need to be stopped. Mind you, I’m in favor of having a healthy and educated electorate. For the moment, I think the current health care model, as much as it has problems, works. Universal Health Care as it has been proposed by HR Clinton and others is not only not practical, it will devastate the economy. I have similar concerns about the idea of eliminating the IRS. These ideas always sound so good because people don’t like what we have, but the answers are typically too dramatic and potentially either create total chaos or lead to a system worse than the one that we left behind.

Improving education, I’m convinced, is no longer a matter of money (as it was in the mid-20th century). I have watched as we’ve poured billions of dollars into a system that lacks the support that it needs to be successful, and which money will never buy. The parents. The life at home has to provide support for the education system. The only other way to give children what they need is called “boarding schools”. The problem I see is so many parents believing that the school can handle all of the education needs, including providing discipline, adequate time to reinforce skills, and accountability. All of these are critical to successfully educating our children, and yet they’ve all been taken away from the schools, and no longer provided at home. Only the parents can provide it.

Someday, the question is going to arise regarding the Government’s responsibility to engineer successful education AND discipline in order to eliminate the cost of supporting a growingly lazy, inept, and failing society. As things are going, it’s hard to see us avoiding a complete collapse without the Government providing the tools to keep society from falling apart. However, I think putting the Government in the position of providing that support only delays the inevitable, and that for a short period. What is needed is a means stimulate self-discipline, motivation, and individual success on a level that rebuilds the foundation of a society that wants to be successful, and without leaning on the power and finances of a bloated government to support them. Government cannot create that.

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.

 

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  1. danderoo | Jan 2, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Reply

    It’s interesting, but I can’t think of anything, other than perhaps national defense and red tape, that the national government has done a better job at (more efficient, more effective, lower cost) than the private sector. Education? The more government involvement, the lower the scores and the farther behind our children lag other nations. (I hope the teachers’ unions read this…) How about disaster relief? Remember Katrina?

    Now we’re on the eve of the Iowa caucuses and I don’t know of any candidate, other than Ron Paul (not a viable leader, in my opinion), that is actually espousing smaller government. Instead, the candidates are falling all over themselves to create a national health care system, apparently funded by taxing the upper middle class, of which I happen to be. There are two issues here. First, my family gets nailed by the AMT, so we’re paying more than our fair share of income taxes. Second, in the private sector, I get a say in how the dollars I spend are allocated. This will not happen if the government creates a health care system. I’m sure healthy individuals will not get better coverage or pay less than unhealthy individuals. Now I’m not talking about cancer victims–those folks who unfortunately are afflicted with something they had no control over. I’m talking about people whose lifestyles cause them to be unheathy–300-pound smokers, for example. Perhaps, to be truly fair, those of us who are paying should be able to exert some level of influence over those who are receiving the benefit. Just a suggestion.

    Barack “Rhymes with Osama” Obama is talking on the local tv ads about giving every child a computer in the classroom. Gracious! Is he serious? Who’s gonna pay for that? Let me guess…And how are we going to police that? Will there be any controls over internet access?

    It seems government is ruled by the Law of Unintended Consequences. I believe Thomas Jefferson had it right…that govenment is best that governs least…

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