Politically, I mean.
It matters a lot in some ways. Popcorn, for instance. If you love popcorn, you've got to love Iowa. And hot air balloon afficianadoes have good reason to feel fondly about the place. Plus, it's home to one of the best working writers in the business, my old pal Max Allan Collins.
But this year's Republican caucuses? Virtually meaningless.
The nominee will be Willard M. Romney. It's how Republicans do things. The next guy in line always wins. Last time, that was McCain. This year, despite the much-hyped "power" of the increasingly marginalized Tea Party, it's Romney. The Republican establishment has lined up behind their guy, and he'll walk away with it. Think of the millions that could be saved if people accepted that now, instead of campaigning through state after state. Maybe some of that ad money will trickle down from TV station owners to the unemployed...
But that's part of the problem. It won't (though the hotel money, the restaurant money, etc., spent by campaigns and journalists will). The thing is, it hardly matters which of the Republican candidates wins, because their economic prescription is basically identical, across the board: Lower taxes for the rich, lower taxes for corporations.
Folks, trickle-down economics--"suppy side" if you want to sound all intellectual-like--has never worked in a complex, diverse economy. If kind of works in places like Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, where the entire economy is built around a single product, and middle-class wages are relatively high. But it's been tried in the U.S. since Reagan, and it has resulted in the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and middle class wages remaining flat (which means, since costs have not remained flat, being worse off than before).
A rising (economic) tide lifts all boats if it rises from the bottom. But you can't lift up the most expensive boats and expect the water to come with them.
The eventual nominee, Willard M., is as bad as the rest, and dishonest to boot. Here are his own words:
"In an Entitlement Society, government provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk. In an Opportunity Society, free people living under a limited government choose whether or not to pursue education, engage in hard work, and pursue the passion of their ideas and dreams. If they succeed, they merit the rewards they are able to enjoy.
Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society."
Now, that's patently nonsense. What exactly has Barack Obama done to take money away from those who have earned it and give it to those who are just sitting around with their hands out? (Wall Street bailouts aside). What President Obama has been fighting for--against absolute resistance from elected Republicans--is a society where those who weren't born with the advantages that Mr. Romney was are allowed to get good educations, to have health care so that illness won't cripple them financially, and to have a chance to succeed. As Mr. Obama did in his own life, and as Mr. Romney did not do.
Of those two men, only one was born into entitlement. The other was raised by a poor mother and middle class grandparents, worked his tail off to get into good schools, worked his way up to president of the Harvard Law Review, then Senator, then President. Mr. Obama really is the story of American opportunity, of a kind of class mobility that is all but disappearing in our country. Mr. Romney, on the other hand, was born rich and remains rich. He didn't get there by his own efforts, and he has never in his life known what it is to struggle to put a meal on the table or a roof over his head.
So the question is, does Romney really believe that nonsense he spouts? Or is he lying about Obama's record in order to stir up anti-Obama hatred? Because that kind of dog-whistle talk, like Reagan's "welfare queen" nonsense, is racially tinged, extremist hate speech, meant to promote a "we are better than them" ideology. Which are you, Mitt, dishonest or clueless? And is either one a recommendation for the presidency?
It really doesn't matter which Republican is the nominee, because as I said, they all have basically the same economic message. That message misses the point. They want to cut the deficit, when at this moment, borrowing (for the federal government) is free, and we should do more of it. What the economy needs is MORE spending, not less. That will continue the 20+ months of private-sector job growth we've seen. Cutting spending too soon will bring that growth to a halt. In 2013, maybe 2014, we should be looking at the deficit--after the economy is humming again. For now, we need jobs, period. And the way to jobs is not trickle down (which, again, HAS NEVER WORKED), but spending. Which, by the way, works.
Mitt's the guy. He'll be the nominee. But it hardly matters (well, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, who might actually be certifiably insane), because they all have the same message. And they've all got it backward. They want to drag us back to the depths of 2008-2009, or maybe 1933-34. And we need to go forward, on the same steady, positive course we're on.