New York City the center of the global left; Iowa the center of American conservatism

When liberal politicians or their celebrity relatives want to advance their careers to the presidency or even beyond, the first step is a trip to New York, possibly for a meeting with George Soros. When a conservative or libertarian wants to do the same, the first trip is to Iowa, possibly to shoot birds with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). 

That’s where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) was this past week. It is a great thing, the way they dress up; there is a certain uniform that goes along with shooting quail. And if you are out of place in the American heartland, it looks more like a costume, as it did when John Kerry donned the orange for a photo op during his 2004 campaign for the presidency. Cruz looks OK. He’s got a great smile. But the Princeton and Harvard degrees keep bleeding through. Iowa may not be the best fit for Cruz, but Cruz is a very good fit for Iowa. 

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New Hampshire used to be considered the vortex of conservatism. When New Hampshire Gov. Sherman Adams (R) got in his mind that Dwight Eisenhower should be president, it was a done deal. No longer. The roads today are too good and the cars too comfortable. Boston is less than an hour’s drive. Armies have moved up from Massachusetts to beat the taxes, but they bring it with them. And politicians today plan their careers in moving from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, as Scott Brown seems to be ruminating about. But Manchester will play today much as middle Massachusetts will. Today, Iowa is king.

Rightly so. Because in the 30 or so states around the middle of the country where 30 Republican governors have been elected in the last race, there are really three parties: The Republican Party, the Tea Party and the Democrats. The third, the Democrats, are increasingly slipping to the margins. In New York, there are two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, featuring NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). They are increasingly indistinguishable. The Tea Party is on the edges or nonexistent.

I have been taunting about this like the Frenchman in the castle in the classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" since February 2009. That's when New Hampshire state Reps. Dan Itse and Paul Ingbretson proposed a states' rights defense against ObamaCare and more than 30 states, all in the middle and near one another, spontaneously followed suit. It can be said today, now that the case has been through the Supreme Court, that when history looks back, it will look back to that day, because it was that (New Hampshire) moment which awakened the heartland.

But it was perhaps New Hampshire’s last hurrah as a political entity. As the seasons pass, there are fewer moose and bears in the yard and more and more New York and Massachusetts license plates. We are delighted to have them because they bring their money and hire us locals to fix their houses.

When we speak back to “the American Century” we really mean the New York century; Don Draper’s world in "Mad Men" came to global economic dominance by military conquest in World Wars I and II. Mike Mansfield’s "Pacific Century” is about the economic boost in Asia. 

But the real American Century rises today in the cornfields in Iowa, where the way they did it back east no longer fits.