What story came out of the Republican and Democratic state conventions held last weekend? There really isn’t a good one. Each party assembled the faithful, heard speeches, ratified a slate of national convention delegates and approved a party platform. Democrats claimed their convention was better, and Republicans, “no, ours was better.”
What gets missed among the media coverage, Twitter feeds and insider debates is that party activists who participate in political party conventions represent less than one-tenth of one percent of Iowa’s population, or not much. The 2012 general election won’t be decided by any of them.
The 2012 election will be decided in community groups, neighborhoods and homes around Iowa and the nation. In aggregate, people are much more fractured than what was heard in Des Moines.
There is evidence throughout my part of Iowa that voters eschew the idea of declaring their party preference by not voting in political primaries, by switching voter registration to no preference, and by finding other things to talk about than politics when with friends and associates. These social tendencies are significant and smart campaigns are already using the reality they represent to develop winning strategies.
I posted about Democratic values recently, about Social Security, Medicare and political indoctrination of school children. Some get offended by the notion that Democrats have values, assigning pejorative monikers to belief systems we spent a lifetime considering and developing. What I know is not to argue with people using facts as it only reinforces ill-founded beliefs and does not persuade.
We live in a time when science is suspect among a growing segment of the population, when political parties support ideological public school curricula, and if a person can think something they can say it, and if they can say it, it can be legislated.
It is as if some want to turn back the clock to before the Age of Reason, when Thomas Paine challenged institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible and in its stead proposed free rational inquiry into all subjects. I am confident Fox News would vilify Paine if he were living today.
Despite the tumult among the Republican and Democratic insiders last Saturday, what they did was so much hot air in an already warm spring. As summer approaches, most Iowans will turn to family, communities and commerce, and life will go on. From discussions in those contexts, we will make a decision about the future of our state and country, and some won’t like it. That is a political reality I can live with, and so should we all.