The first votes in the nomination process that will determine the names on the ballot for the presidential election in November happened this week.

The Iowa Caucuses were held Monday night and the New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11. These first two contests are meant to narrow the field of candidates as the primary season gets going. Minnesota voters get their say March 3, Wisconsin voters April 7.

I lived in Iowa until eight years ago, attending and reporting on several caucuses. I still find it amusing how the political class has more than a mild contempt for the “retail” politics that need to be practiced in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Retail” politics mean that candidates actually need to come to towns large and small, shake hands, look real people in the eye and answer questions. The conventional wisdom is this one-on-one campaigning allows voters to get the true measure of the candidates as well as an opportunity to hear directly their plans to address problems facing the nation.

Having been there, I can tell you many of the politicians do a fairly good job with this style of campaigning. The ones who don’t do it well are the ones who either skip the state or spend money on ads. Others argue Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t diverse enough, aren’t representative of the makeup of the nation.

I respectfully beg to differ.

States like Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Wisconsin have hard working people who play by the rules, make sure their children get good educations and believe in the inherent goodness of our nation. While we may be a bit cynical, in the end if we believe you are a good person, there’s very little we won’t do when asked to do it.

But we are far from being fools or bumpkins. I think this unnerves politicians the most when they are forced to look us in the eyes and speak the truth. It’s easier to look at a camera, it can’t take the measure of your words and actions. A camera won’t hold your eyes while you are talking.

Michael Bloomberg (who got in the race late) is skipping Iowa and New Hampshire, opting to try and make an impact on Super Tuesday, March 3. In addition to Minnesota, voters in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia will hold primaries or caucuses. Bloomberg is spending millions of his own money on advertising in these states in hopes of getting the Democratic nomination.

While I understand the strategy, I hope he doesn’t succeed. I have nothing against Bloomberg. But I believe he is shortchanging himself and rural America by making the conversation about the future a one-way dialog.

In a few months, the political picture will become more focused as the two nominees are decided. We will (hopefully) get a small break before the conventions and the all-out war that will happen right up until November. It seems like we have been in campaign season since January, 2017.

Hopefully, the nominees will remember the lessons learned from interacting with voters in small town America. They could do a lot worse.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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