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Essay

Endorsement

By December 31, 2011 One Comment
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Case closed.  I’m an Iowan, once upon a time a Republican, and I am at this moment endorsing a candidate.  (Now please stop calling.)  I’d be walking across the floor at the caucus meeting when Ron Paul’s name is announced on January 3rd, were I attending, and were I walking across the floor.  I’ve decided that of the rat pack the Republicans are forwarding to me and other bib-overaled hayseeds, Ron Paul’s the man.

According to Politico, lots of Iowans don’t want him to win, even though thousands do.  Those who do are True Believers in Paul’s idyllic libertarian gospel.  Those who aren’t thusly Paul-struck worry like mad lest he does win–and their worries are well-founded.  He may.  Even though Mitt looks to be building his secure third of the caucus-goers—maybe enough to win–should the Texas doctor/senator pull off an upset, it would be another argument in the arsenal of those who are sick and tired of the quadrennial Tall Corn state campaigning.  Our first-in-the-nation caucuses may well go south fast.  And the reason is simple, Ron Paul has, it seems, zero chance of beating Obama.  It’s that simple.  We Iowans, Republicans especially, are adept at picking losers.

 Of course, the rest of the field isn’t doing much better, if you believe the polling data.  Obama’s on the rise, while anything Republican is not–this despite the fact that those who believe “it’s the economy, stupid” see the nation’s woes weighing heavily against this incumbent.  

In Iowa, a vote for Ron Paul is a vote to send the whole magical mystery tour somewhere else next election cycle.  Tons of Republican and Democratic operatives would just as soon put Kalona and Keokuk in their rear view mirrors anyway.  If you’re going to stage the nation’s first primary or caucus anywhere, why not in Florida, for instance, under the palms, or Arizona, where you don’t have to slow down for tractors.  

Paul wins here on January 3, and the Hawkeye record is as bad as its basketball team.  Huckabee last time–remember him?  Pat Robertson??????????  Shoot, Dole even beat Reagan before Reagan was granted sainthood.  Iowa Republicans are not winners; they’re true believers.

We grow more social conservatives than we do corn.  Here, the religious right has immense clout, vastly more than they have anywhere in the nation, it seems.  Shoot, Bob Vander Plaats has been on all the news shows this year, got courted more lavishly than the Pork Queen, all because what he directs is the state’s religious right in a johnny-come-lately assembly of saints whose name focuses on their cute little deliberate punctuation error–FAMiLY LEADER.

Politico claims Vander Plaats called one of the candidates, Michelle Bachmann–get this!—he got on the phone and asked her to pull out of the race and support Rick Santorum because, after all, wouldn’t it just be neat if all the good Christians could support just one good Christian candidate?  The leader of the FAMiLY LEADER has become such a powerful broker that he thinks he can call a candidate and, piously I’m sure, direct her toward the door.

Bachmann said no, thank goodness.

So Vander Plaats endorsed Santorum, even though his FAMiLY LEADER wouldn’t endorse a single candidate.  Undoubtedly, some of the righteous brass wanted Gingrich, whose personal record as a family leader isn’t particularly impressive.

I like Ron Paul, not only because he’s the only really believable candidate in the pack, but because, if he wins, maybe that win will take the whole shooting match elsewhere–all the robocalls, all the ad men, all the rental busses and cars.  They’ll all go south, and we’ll be left up here in  earmuffs.  

I’m not just being Scrooge either.  I think sharpened politics has been disastrous on some Iowa church communities, especially with the bloated reputations of the religious right.  People can’t talk about politics anymore without reputations being smirched, without someone assuming that those who don’t buy the company line are as sad as the heathen who don’t stand up and testify around the campfire. 

I never, ever want another kindergarten grandchild of mine to climb into my lap and tell me that Obama is a baby-killer.  I’m tired of the firewall politics builds between people who believe in the same God and the same savior, the same kid in the manger.  I’m sick unto death of the divisiveness that arises in the blessed name of Jesus.  And I don’t understand how a mob of well-meaning, flag-draped Christians can actually believe that freedom is more biblical than justice.

Maybe if the caucuses leave, the uncivil wars will beget little but coffee table skirmishes.  Maybe if some other state gets first-in-the-nation status, my phone will go silent.  

I don’t own a TV station or a rental car outfit or a restaurant or a bar, nor Java Joes.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a stake in this mess.  I say, vote Ron Paul.  When his name is called, walk across the gym floor.  Make him a winner and leave our church alone.

Good riddance.  Send Bob Vander Plaats back to Sioux City.  He’s not as important as he believes God almighty thinks he is.  On January 4, they’ll all be gone, the spinmeisters, the ad men, the pundits, the party operatives, and most of the phone bank–on to greener pastures.  Vander Plaats and his righteous crew will have had their ten minutes of glory and the rest of us can get on with life.

Vote Ron Paul.   

James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.

One Comment

  • Steve MVW says:

    As a fellow Iowan, I tell you this is the funniest and best commentary on the caucuses I've read. I'm not caucusing for Paul and I don't want Iowa to lose its first-in-the-nation status, nonetheless there is loads of truth in this post. Thanks.

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