Editorial: Why not Iowa?

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012


If the United States is going to continue to nominate the presidential candidates in its existing system with months of primaries and caucuses, Iowa is as good of a state for being first as any other.

Every state has its good points and bad. Every state has its idiosyncrasies. No state can really claim to be the best or worst for this purpose.

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But Iowa has some traits that can be considered, well, fortunate.

The best one is that no major metro area dominates the state. Des Moines is the biggest city, but there is enough population elsewhere to outweigh central Iowa’s interests. This means candidates must travel the state to win. In some states, such as Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska and so forth, if a candidate can win the metro, they win the state.

The second trait is that it is Midwestern state. The Midwest gets the short end of the stick when it comes to its reputation, deemed “flyover country” and such. Yet the Midwestern people are roundly seen as the nicest, most honest and most genuine people in country. Integrity among voters is a good thing when picking a leader.

Finally, Iowa is a place that values education. Like Minnesota and Wisconsin, its students rank high on test results. A solid education is essential to a democracy that functions well.

All of these factors mean that candidates must get to know their voters to win. Millions are spent on ads, yet candidates wearing out their shoes still is required by the Iowa people. To us, that seems like true democracy. It isn’t a place, like what happens in South Carolina, where the winner can buy the state with negative ads and fliers. Americans surely cherish a democracy whereby candidates win votes through facetime, not airtime.

While just about everyone would like to see a better system — one that finds an even way to determine which states should go first and make the entire process shorter — until that time comes, the first state might as well be Iowa.

That said, it sure would be great if all the primaries and caucuses were in the same month, or something quick like that, with a rotating system.

Solutions abound. Getting them to go is much harder.