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It's now time for the regular bashing of the early presidential contests in New Hampshire and Iowa. Yes, their efforts over the years have not been perfect, if there is a perfect process.

But as a transplanted Iowan, an American government teacher and a legitimate "political junkie," I must offer some needed clarification to "End the kingmaking in Iowa and N.H." (editorial, Nov. 2).

Iowa presidential caucuses offer individual citizens the unique opportunity to meet and question candidates for the presidency. It's called "retail politics." Iowans are proud of this assignment.

Larger states may be jealous of Iowa's premier position. But which larger state would offer candidates and citizens a comparable opportunity to meet face-to-face?

Small states, yes, come with a media market offering easier access for a candidate with fewer resources in money and manpower. Larger states with more expensive media markets eliminate that personal contact. Then we are at the mercy of media to ask the pertinent questions, and of the glossy, 30-second ads that rarely ask the truly definitive questions of the candidates.

Iowa and New Hampshire admittedly are not as diverse as other states, but "white" Iowa did twice give the nod to Barack Obama for president. Open-minded is a better description of Hawkeye citizens.

Iowa and New Hampshire provide an opening, relatively inexpensively, as a start for outsider candidates. Remember Jimmy Carter in 1976.

We should look at Iowa as a testing ground for candidates. Can one gain traction, and as a result further support, money and manpower elsewhere? Pete Buttigieg had a surprising showing in the 2021 caucus.

I count 18 candidates from both parties whom I have personally met. Not bad for a small-town government teacher. They didn't all get their party's nomination, but they had a chance.

Iowa a kingmaker? Not always. The "top" candidates in Iowa often falter later on. Remember Bob Dole, Pat Robertson and Dick Gephardt in 1988, Rick Santorum in 2012, Ted Cruz in 2016, Buttigieg in 2020.

I submit that Iowa does its job, winnowing the candidates, a needed exercise in representative democracy. The alternative? Power brokers, with huge amounts of money, dominating our political scene.

Iowa has a moderate, centrist tradition that translates into a fairly even mix of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, liberals and conservatives.

Perhaps citizens in other states should be thankful to Iowa and New Hampshire for providing a fair, rational, reasonable, relatively inexpensive, yet vital part of our political process.

Philip L. Stone lives in Plymouth.