Russ Mitchell

The Mitchell Report

Russ Mitchell is editor of The Dickinson County News. He has been in Spirit Lake since January 2010 and began in journalism in 1997. The Mitchell Report can be about anything and everything. Comments are invited.

Follow our lead, America (or don't)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Every four years, I hear an alarm clock.

And this time, the alarm clock sounds a lot like Liz Mair, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's newly-minted strategist for online communications. Technically, she's working for Walker's Political Action Committee, Our American Revival.

From what I gather, Democrats were all too happy to send The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs some background on the Walker PAC's new hire. Neither Democrats nor Jacobs had to go very far back in Mair's Twitter time line to find her disapproval of the Iowa Freedom Summit organized by U.S. Rep. Steve King. The event included ... wait for it ... her new boss, Governor Walker from Wisconsin. He did very well there by most accounts.

"In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys," she tweeted on Freedom Summit morning, Jan. 24. She then added, "The sooner we remove Iowa's frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be."

I especially like that last part because, naturally, it has to be "Iowa's frontrunning status" that damages American politics and policy. Good thing we have a win-at-all-cost strategist-for-hire to point that out. People in her line of work couldn't possibly be part of the problem.

And there's a Mair gem, two days earlier, about ethanol subsidies that no longer exist.

"Morons across America are astounded to learn that people from *IOWA* grow up rather government-dependent. #agsubsidies #ethanol #brainless."

To be fair, Mair grew up in Seattle and she's probably never been government-depen... oh, wait, it's her job to get already-elected government employees into new, more-prestigious government positions. Her career path is the very definition of government-dependent. (I'll avoid using "# hypocrite" here.)

We could also talk about the judgement of a national operative -- a strategist for online communications, no less -- who knocks Iowa on social media even though she's smart enough to know her future potential bosses may need our state to get off to a good start.

But really, the alarm clock that goes off every four years isn't about Mair exclusively. It's about that isolated, handful of people with influence or a pulpit. They're politicians and pundits who question whether or not Iowa is qualified to begin the nomination process. They say Iowa's demographics don't represent the nation's population as a whole.

I can only tell them that any state picked to start the process won't fairly represent other parts of the country. I'm sure candidates would like to campaign where it's cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. But, Iowa has taken its responsibility seriously and we're not asking the impossible. Iowa's governor, lieutenant governor and, now, two U.S. Senators make pledges to visit all 99 counties each year.

Plus, Iowa's climate and number of counties should matter to delegates farther down the nomination process. If you can't get organized in Clay County and Clayton County, how can your party trust you to be organized in New Jersey and New Mexico?

But the final, and most important point is this: We nominate no one.

Out of the 2,300 delegates at the 2012 GOP National Convention, Iowa had 28. Mair also should be reminded that Iowa Republicans didn't give eventual nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney caucus wins in the last two election cycles.

Iowa's first-in-the-nation status does two things and only two things. It gives a candidate or two the national platform they might not otherwise get. It also peels off a handful of candidates who didn't connect, didn't raise funds and didn't get traction.

If you think Iowa has too much influence, the fix is simple. Set aside our results. Focus more on issues and leadership and less on the horse race. Think for yourselves and we'll talk again before the 2020 election cycle.

I'm going to hit the snooze button now.

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