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Posted by on Dec 6, 2007 in Politics | 5 comments

Following the Mob … from Iowa?

I understand the value of Iowa and New Hampshire, the up-close-and-personal politics they require. But really, folks, isn’t it time to move on? Mob mentality is rarely, if ever, a good thing. Yet we continue to elect our Presidents largely on that basis. Why?

Ben Smith has more.

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  • DLS

    You’re wrong, Pete. It’s not a mob mentality at all. What it is that’s wrong, is a staged homey performance in places that are not generally characteristic of the USA. The modern standard would be based on the norm for the population in this country, which would be the suburbs of major metro areas. The town-meeting sessions are perfectly in order; the visits to restaurants, schools, homes, and such are obviously staged and far too overdone. (Some visits like that make sense during a campaign, but they’d obviously just be little more than decorative; imagine someone doing that in California rather than Iowa and New Hampshire to get the most extreme correction of the perspective by which this should be viewed.)

  • DLS

    Yet we continue to elect our Presidents largely on that basis. Why?

    There is no mob mentality behind Iowa and New Hampshire. I believe you are confusing this with a real mob-mentality phenomenon, which is obvious, and is particularly exploited by Democrats: the appeal to emotion, base instincts, superficiality, the desire to be told what one wants to hear, and so on. Superficiality merits an additional mention because with this we identify something which you probably know about and detest as part of a true “mob mentality”: the concept and nature of the modern election (especially with television) as a popularity contest. (Many of us would prefer instead what we ought to encounter: a competition, based on merit and positions and intentions of the candidates, the people he or she would place in the Cabinet, etc., for arguably the most important job in the nation.)

  • DLS

    The difference between Iowa and New Hampshire and the real “popularity contest” that is the election season is that even though there’s still the “I want to be your friend as well as President” mushiness in Iowa and New Hampshire, we know it’s staged and we know it’s not done elsewhere, and we know it cannot be done elsewhere and is almost meaningless. (It’s just a more intensive pre-popularity-contest popularity contest.)

  • domajot

    There is a definite mob mentality about all of politics, not only the primaries.

    The media are in charge of setting the tone, the rules of the game and the score cards Then polls reflect back what he media have created, reinforcing the media creation.

    I don’t have a problem with finding out what Iowans think, as the first or the last state in the primaries.
    As it is, they appear to be aware of their bellweather status and to take their politics seriously.

    What I do have a problem with, is the mob’s perception of Iowa, or New Hampshire, or any one locality as having larger than due significance for the nation, as a whole.
    The nation is not Iowa, and is less so with every passing year, as we diversfy, move around, and change. That concept is what’s missing in politics

    I welcome any post with a ‘think for yourself’ message.

  • DLS

    The nation is not Iowa, and is less so with every passing year, as we diversfy, move around, and change.

    Nor New Hampshire, though refugees from the non-American-for-other-reasons state of Massachusetts have added to the metro area development in the south of that state, and New Hampshire certainly is more mainstream and less offputting to Americans than what is making another of its neighbors known often now as “The People’s Republic of Vermont.”

    These two states are largely rural with a smattering of small towns (NH) along with some metro development in the Merrimac Valley or largely rural and intensely farmed (Iowa) with most of the non-farm settlements in almost innumerable small towns.

    Here in Iowa (where I currently am), there is more diversity than there used to be, but it’s still a small percentage. You need to know that this is true for much of the USA, not only for Iowa. Do not deceive yourself that all metro areas are greatly diversified; you’ll see “rainbow” in some metros while others are largely “standard American two-tone” and some have little diversity. This nation and this continent are nothomogeneous and shouldn’t be expected to be that way, much less assumed to be that way.

    The problem with Iowa and New Hampshire is not that they don’t typify the life of most Americans (in suburbs of major metro areas), but that they have arguably too much influence compared to their proportion of the US population in their ability to make or break some candidates. Often the losers in these two states can make a comeback and the winners don’t necessarily go on to get their party nominations, but the influence is there and is much resented elsewhere. Some of the resentment is due no doubt to envy and for non-defensible “reasons” (actual dislike or hatred of Iowa or New Hampshire, for example), but others do resent what is undue influence of these states simply because they have chosen to go first in order not to be made irrelevent by the larger states (which no small state should ever suffer), but also to exploit the fame and the influence gained by going first.

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