When I started both this column and our now nine-year-old polling and political electronic news firm, I swore off partisan politics. I don't campaign for candidates and don't really care who wins any particular race. I have to treat politicians like a proctologist treats, well, nevermind . . .
But my non-partisanship doesn't keep me from looking at the Republican Party -- the one that gave us Ronald Reagan and took over the U.S. House in the 1994 elections -- and ask, "Who stole my party?"
I have an answer for you. At one time, the GOP was the party that fought for open government, term limits, reductions in spending and less government intrusion. When I was involved in the Republican Party, we wanted the IRS disbanded and the Department of Education either reduced, made useful, or abolished. We believed in the goodness of an individual and the greatness of individualism.
If you want to know why no one -- including my firm -- can poll the Iowa caucus with any sense of certainty, it's because Iowa Republicans are demoralized and unenthusiastic. The two frontrunners are a guy, Mitt Romney, who looks slicker than a television preacher, and another, Mike Huckabee, who really was a preacher but can't seem to decide how he wants to run his race. It's a mess.
If you really want to know what ruined the GOP I loved, it's called greed. That's right. We had a successful ride under Reagan, and suddenly everybody decided that they could carry on his magic and turn a quick buck as the good times rolled on.
Then after the Republicans took the White House and both the House and Senate, it was just all too tempting to become the "establishment" that most Republicans had railed against for years.
I could name you plenty of members of Congress who promised limit terms. Most are either still there, were defeated, or just couldn't avoid the lure of making big money, by lobbying and such, while their colleagues were still in power.
As far as reducing government, what a joke! The GOP has helped create endless additional laws and spent wild amounts of money in the same manner as the Democrats we used to criticize.
And as for the so-called "neocons," thanks a lot. Having to listen to these mean-spirited, myopic D.C.-based know-it-alls is insufferable. The biggest joke is that they talk about issues no one cares about while the rest of the country is focused on reality. It took these insulated prigs months and months to figure out that there was a housing crisis. That's because in D.C. the local economy thrives -- because of its proximity to power and wealth.
Republicans have a lousy cast of leading candidates this year. It's just that simple. Not that the Democrats are anything to brag about, but that's their problem. Just think: These candidates have spent half their time talking about an immigration issue in a state, Iowa, where there is no immigration problem.
They held a debate on CNN in November in Florida and never once mentioned the housing crisis there, where there's been the biggest drop in the value of homes in the nation. Not one of the candidates spent any significant time on the issue. Boy, I'll bet cash-strapped Floridians were impressed.
Why are these guys running for president? What are their ideas to get the nation's economy moving? Who is willing to really shake up our ludicrous system of taxation? How do we actually stop wasting endless tax dollars on "bridges to nowhere"?
I don't want to regulate people's lives. I don't want to regulate the lives of everyone in every other nation of the world. The truth is, I don't feel like paying for everyone else's problems while I still see kids who drop out of school and homeless people who roam our city streets.
In the case of Iowa, as it was four years ago, it will be the Des Moines Register's poll that will likely choose the winner of our first contest in this year's painful presidential battle. Its poll usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it really doesn't matter.
No matter what leaders emerge for either party, we are headed to four more years of nothing. Oh, and by the way: Happy New Year!