Voters aren't stupid

Posted: Jan 06, 2008 12:00 AM
Voters aren't stupid

Isn’t Election Day grand? Caucus Day ’taint bad, neither. That voters can change their representatives at regular intervals is what I like best about government.

Now don’t get me wrong: Neither Republican winner Mike Huckabee nor Democrat champ Barack Obama is my candidate. But the results from Iowa, including their respective victories, show reason for some hope.

Note that both these men have embraced hope, and they may be on to something. Huckabee is actually from Hope, Arkansas. (You realize, of course, that former President Bill Clinton was also from Hope, Arkansas. Huckabee points out, however, that Clinton isn’t really from Hope. True, Clinton was born in Hope, but he grew up in Hot Springs. Just so you know.)

Barack Obama’s book was entitled The Audacity of Hope. Like Martin Luther King, Obama consistently uses hope as a theme. It’s a good theme, for as Dr. King said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

Right off the bat, the results offer real hope for a break from 20 years of Clintons and Bushes in the White House. That alone is cause for celebration. Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' anointed heir, wasn’t merely nudged out by Obama, she came in nine points back. And in third place, behind John Edwards.

To add insult to injury, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported that the Clinton caucus night party was “a completely manufactured event.”

Hillary is running on her experience, her 35 years fighting for folks like you and me. But she’s only been a U.S. Senator for eight years. Before that she was First Lady. Or was that co-president? If she was really co-president, shouldn’t she be asked, “Why did you pardon Marc Rich?”

And going back 35 years? I guess taking pay-offs in cattle futures when Bill was governor of Arkansas counts as fighting for us, too. Indeed, she has loads of Washington-relevant experience.

Best of all, it wasn’t merely a rejection of Hillary Clinton, it was also a hopeful sign that organized labor, especially the government employees unions, may no longer have a complete stranglehold on the Democratic Party.

Obama had no notable labor union support. Meanwhile, Clinton had massive help in Iowa from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers, along with other unions. The New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, has also endorsed her. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Edwards has support from the Service Employees International Union.

Obama’s win also demonstrates a new day in politics, one in which race doesn’t matter so much. This is a day too long in coming, but be glad it’s here. Iowa is less than three percent black. And yet that was not a factor. That’s to Obama’s credit, because the Illinois Senator did not run as a black man, but as a man. It is also to the credit of Iowa voters, who saw him that very same way.

Nor, apparently, does gender matter much. Clinton has at times led Obama, nationally, among blacks. And last Thursday night in Iowa, he led Mrs. Clinton among women. There were many affirmative actions taken by voters and candidates, but none forced by government mandate.

The Iowa caucus also contradicted the steady media barrage claiming that money is all-important. To voters it isn’t. Huckabee is badly trailing the other candidates in fundraising, especially former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But he won.

If voters can see through well-funded campaigns, as Iowa proves they can, why all the campaign finance regulations?

No, I’m no fan of Huckabee. Oh, I do acknowledge and appreciate that he has always been a strong supporter of term limits, his rise in Arkansas politics being in part attributed to that stance. But fiscal conservatives in Arkansas have been thoroughly frustrated with his George W-like spending addiction. Both are very compassionate when spending other people’s money.

Nor am I a fan of Barack Obama. But to see the political establishment in both major parties, as well as a whole slew of the nation’s most greedy special interests, get a good whipping in Iowa was extremely enjoyable.

I am a fan of Ron Paul. No miracles happened in Iowa for his campaign, just a decent showing of ten percent, far above his national polling numbers. Now he's polling at 14 percent in New Hampshire, third place in front of Huckabee. He has proved to the world that he is worth watching . . . but not on Fox.

Elections give voters a chance to speak. That’s half the battle. Someday we’ll achieve the other half and make politicians actually listen.