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January 3rd, 2012
06:13 PM ET

Letters to the President #1079: 'The real test in Iowa'

Reporter's Note: The Iowa caucuses are today. Yes, I know. Yay.

Dear Mr. President,

Here is a dirty secret of mine which, if I were ambitious enough, I’d probably send to Post Secret: I’ve never really cared much for politics or political news coverage. By and large I find it all too depressing, dull, and most importantly, disconnected from real life as most of us know it.

So you can imagine that all this noise from Iowa brings out mixed feelings. On one hand, I understand that picking a president is an awfully important task, and we ought to know what is happening each step along the way. On the other hand, I get tired of hearing the same old talking points, the same old cheap insults, the same old predictions, boasts, and excuses. And it really is all the same.

Do you honestly think that you have changed America so much in your three years in office that the country is unrecognizable? I’m not taking a shot at you. I’m just asking: Do you think any president ever really makes the kind of profound difference to real Americans that you all promise when you are on the campaign trail? I would argue not. Oh sure, you all make incremental differences, and if they are sustained long enough through successive administrations and Congresses, they can matter.

But mostly what happens is this: Every four years the two parties swarm the early voting and battleground states with yet another series of accusations and promises; accusations that the other party is somehow screwing the country into the ground, and promises that (insert party name here) will somehow bring back the American Garden of Eden and all will be right with the world. Voters get all riled up. The polls open and close. Someone wins, someone loses.

And then the party operatives go back to DC, and we all wake up to realize that precious little has changed. The people who don’t have jobs, still don’t have them. Housing values are still in the toilet. Faith in government is still there too.

That’s why I am interested in all this talk about Iowa, but only to a point. The real test is not who wins tonight, or who you will run against, or whether you win or lose. The real test will be a couple of years from now, when we all get to see if anything comes out of all this noise that will actually make life better for most Americans.

Regards,
Tom

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