That's It: I'm Moving to Iowa

At some point between now and the 2016 election, I’ll be making an important decision.  No, I’m not talking about my primary pick or whether I will support the ultimate party standard-bearer.

No, I’m referring to something else that possesses me – if only in passing – every four years at around the time the presidential primary season gets underway.  To put it simply: I want to move to Iowa.  The schedule of primaries for 2016 is now set in stone, and once again, the Hawkeye State has been accorded the earliest date.  This bestows on its electorate the kind of advantage reserved for the firstborn of royalty. 

And it’s not bad for the state coffers, either.  In 2012, Iowa generated some $17,594,395 from the Iowa caucuses.  When the results were tallied, Mitt Romney, the ultimate Republican nominee, came in a close second to Rick Santorum, who went on to win a few more primaries but in the end faltered. 

I know it sounds silly to dream of being present at one of the 1,774 statewide caucus sites, but I think politics has become too impersonal, and I yearn to be where the action to elect a president begins.  I’m tired of sitting in front of my TV set and watching the political gravy train chug into the Hawkeye State before it stops anywhere else.  And since the Republican Party’s choo-choo isn’t likely to make tracks for the Golden State any time soon, I’m ready to make my move. 

I realize that a sane person would weigh both the good and the bad before picking up stakes.  On the negative side of the ledger, the winter weather in Iowa can be pretty awful.  And despite the claims of global warming, the past several Midwestern winters have been described as a veritable icebox – for any of you who remember that ancient appliance.

Years ago, I heard all about Ma Nature’s brutal January punch, which happened to hit my liberal son and his wife when they traveled from the west coast to campaign for Howard Dean in the 2004 Iowa caucuses.  They were even in the audience when he made his infamous “I’ve Got a Scream” speech, which they assured me was only an exaggerated means of emboldening a whole bunch of discouraged – not to mention shivering – out-of-state campaign workers.

But that was different.  They weren’t really part of the whole fawning political show, because, quite simply, they weren’t registered to vote in Iowa.  In fact, I gathered that there was even some resentment toward them on the part of the natives, who don’t like to see folks from elsewhere toy with their affections for their candidates.   It’s a venue where zealous, non-voting carpetbaggers have been largely ignored by the press, and worse yet, by the population at large. 

So forget that ploy.  It’s apparent that if I want to make a real difference as a primary trend-setter, I will have to go all the way – that is, move from here to there.  Before the Supreme Court decision of 1972, this would have meant my residing a full year in Iowa before I would be allowed to register to vote.  Now, apparently, all people have to do is show up with a piece of ID indicating a local address and sign an oath that they aren’t planning to cheat by casting an absentee ballot elsewhere.

Being a justified skeptic about government efficiency, I have a feeling that it would not take much to get away with voting twice, or more.  For example, I just found in my mailbox a letter from the State Controller Disbursement Bureau, addressed to somebody who doesn’t live here and hasn’t for the past four years at least.  Perhaps the tardiness of this misdirected correspondence is due to the fact that it involved a disbursement rather than a collection.  Government agencies are always better at tracking people down when people owe the government money than when the fiscal shoe is on the other foot. 

Whatever hoops I have to jump through to be a part of this great nation’s first primary on January, 18, it’s worth it.  I happen to live in a state where my vote hardly matters anymore.  The Democrat candidates (mostly longtime incumbents) do not even bother campaigning.  They don’t need my vote to win, and they would prefer it if Republicans sat out elections in frustration.  Maybe Democrats in deep red states are feeling the same sense of alienation.  If even more discouraged would-be voters choose to sit on the sidelines at election time, they will only swell an already alarmingly high number of Americans – 57.5% in 2012 – who, for whatever reason, decline to exercise democracy’s most precious right.

So here is my time to forsake the cold political shoulder in a temperate climate and swap it for a warm reception in chillier weather.  And I would feel good just going to a state where both U.S. senators and the governor are Republicans.  I don’t happen to know anyone in Iowa, except a good friend’s stepson, who is a computer wonk in Ames.  When I was in graduate school, I briefly dated a geology major from Davenport who happened to be a great square-dancer.  But no matter.  I’ll be courted by the caucus crowd and the swarms of presidential wannabes like never before. 

And what a potentially large group that could turn out to be next year!  If everyone who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for our nation’s highest office showed up, there would be at least a dozen competitors, plus their campaign handlers and so forth, soliciting my vote.  That adds up to a whole bunch of schmoozing.  There will be cozy teas, lip-smacking barbecues, spaghetti feeds, luncheons, pizza pig-outs, barn dances, ice cream socials (well, maybe not), and all sorts of other good-time events to which I will be invited – or better still, escorted.  I might even have to go on a diet beforehand.  (I wonder if Christie, Huckabee, and Bush will do the same!)

If I were a Democrat, I wouldn’t even be thinking of going to Iowa next year, since it looks like their primary will be a one-woman show.  And if Hillary has no competition, why bother catering (a good word!) to the Democratic voters of Iowa, many of whom are already feeling left out?  There’s a rumor that the pressure is on to recruit Elizabeth Warren, if only to snatch some excitement from the jaws of predictability. 

For readers who are still indulging this personal fantasy, I invite you to join me.  In fact, it would cut down on expenses if we considered sharing an address for as long as it takes to be a part of political history.  Let the good times roll.