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Apr.10, 2014 | US MADNESS

US GOP Primaries: Plaid vs Dress Shirted Pioneers

This Iowan primary for the US Senate pretty much sums up the current diverging (yet parallel) trends in the Republican party, in their years-long outbound trajectories, away from the moderate center and towards the outskirts of tea-party-ism.


On the one side of the ring, a hands-on, self-characterized hog-castrator, Joni Ernst, who represents the conservative values of rural, community-knit America. This is the America of the brave prairie & wild-west pioneers, the toilers of the land; the America of proud manual self-actualization, of those who made the Western Expansion possible and thereby planted the cornerstone of modern US. In this paradigm, land ownership and farming are the building block of America's freedom. Included in this narrative are the armed forces (Ernst was a Lt.Colonel in the army in-between being a farm-lady and hog-menace), not only as token to the country's expansion and subsequent preservation but, crucially to this credo, as the embodiment of the value of physical achievement.


On the other side, we have Mark Jacobs (unfortunately not the eponymous fashion designer; now that would have been a spicy primary). This is the Wall Street type, the canny financier, the epitome of the (modern) American dream. This programmatic charter is all about the America of financial empires, of industrial & Gilded Age expansion, post-war boom & worldwide economic domination; of the freedom that money can buy you (the freedom of ownership through consumption vs the freedom of ownership though settled land). Its narrative is centered on the familiar drags-to-riches storyline and the complimentary business turnaround tale, from near-bankruptcy through financial meltdown to thriving comeback. Like above, there is no shortage of pioneers in this paradigm as well, only these ones have traded physical toil for mental prowess. From the Rockefellers and the Carnegies to the Forbes and the Kochs, all share roaringly success stories that shaped the country (for the better) and by doing so claim the title of America's godfathers (akin to the founding fathers).


Needless to say, both archetypes have the expected common grounds of faith-based upbringing, large close-knit family setups and the roll-up-sleeves mentality, as well as offering a clean-cut, you-get-what-you-see product. But more than that, they both share and extol the same core principles: the paramount importance of success and individual triumph. In a sense their differences boil down to aesthetics, plaid shirt vs dress shirt.


Poor Iowan GOP voter, to be bombarded for the next months by either farm or business related adages and clichés. 


Wall Street or Hog Castration? An Iowa Campaign Choice

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