“…told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5 – Willie Shakespeare.

It’d be easy to bury the whole Iowa GOP primary experience with those words from the fictional fellow. Easy but not without a thought or two.

Nearly $18 million spent by eight people with questionable qualifications to pursue a presidential nomination. Charges and countercharges – some entirely outrageous. Lies and damned lies trying to influence a lot of people – many of whom pride themselves on their Bible, their religion and, thus we would think, on truth. Claims of political righteousness with no efforts to propose anything, stand for anything or even do anything. All quite forgettable.

The talking heads hashed, rehashed and left a lot of what passes for “wisdom” scattered on the ground in the aftermath. Much of it also quite forgettable. The late hour of the final outcome created a black hole of unplanned programming length so the “heads” proved once again no vacuum goes unfilled.

And, finally, there was no clear electoral outcome. A statistical dead heat between two candidates not likely to ever see the inside of the White House without a tour guide. The guy who couldn’t break 25% in all pre-polling couldn’t break 25% in the balloting which means 75% voted for someone else. He got only 14% of caucus participants who called themselves “very conservative.” Also got six – yes SIX – votes LESS than he did four years ago. No winner there.

The other guy- the one who got the bulk of those “very conservative” folk – picked up six in 10 calling themselves “evangelical Christians.” Socially interesting in Iowa but statistically not significant without a wider general election base – which he won’t widen. And the first guy won’t likely get their eventual general election votes because those folks won’t compromise.

So what did it all prove? If you’ve already made your mind made up – or listened to the talking heads – not much. And that’s where a lot of us non-Iowans are. If we’re dead set to redecorate the White House with a new occupant, Iowa didn’t come up with anyone. If we’re in the bunch that’s not going to make a change in the Oval Office – again – it didn’t mean much.

My takeaway from the whole experience was found in the very brief but consistently sent message in interviews with many of those who voted. Going in, we’d all been told of the “conservative” nature of Iowa and the tendency of the caucus process to produce very “conservative” – if not far right – participants. And there were plenty of those.

But I was struck by how little of that showed up in interviews. Many questioned were downright moderate and certainly not extreme. They talked of wanting the deficit reduced. And they wanted the economy to improve for them and for the country. There were even some who just wanted more civility.

While mass media and politicians have to attach labels to everything and everyone political, I found a lot of those people fit no particular pigeonhole. Though some were more than a bit uninformed about the candidates and their backgrounds, they were really just family people who wanted improvement in conditions in their lives. Just like the rest of us.

The candidate busses and the satellite trucks are in New Hampshire now, then South Carolina, then Florida. We’ll be treated to more of the same cacophony – the noise of claim and counterclaim – the screech of TV ads pounding all the other guys for one thing or another – the relentless appeals to possible voters containing more outrageous political blasphemy – the same media frenzy of more smoke than fire. It ain’t gonna change.

But I’d like to think the largest ignored story out there will come from some New Hampshirites, South Carolinians and Floridians who troop silently to the polls with the same simple desires as those Iowans who went largely unnoticed. Just folk – neither right nor left – who want some job security and some national check book balancing. People who are less interested in whether their particular horse wins but that a better – and more equitable- race is run.

Stories like that – real as they may be – get lost more often than not.

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