Where has Iowa gone?



It took me awhile, but I learned to take immense pride in Iowa. There was a time when I wanted to run away from the hoghouses and cornfields for mountains or oceans or just bright city lights. But I learned.

I learned about Grant Wood and Ding Darling. I learned about Henry Wallce and Herbert Hoover and Bob Ray. I learned about how we sent more men per-capita to the Civil War as soldiers than any other state. I learned about how we welcomed slaves, stood for free speech and free religion, accepted Prussian draft dodgers. I learned about Aldo Leopold and the beauty of our rolling hills and marshes. I learned about a state of tolerance and moderation, skeptical of rain makers, tight with a dollar, concerned about the neighbor’s well-being, a people that fosters the phrase “Iowa Nice.”

And the state where an openly racist, sexist totalitarian Donald Trump is sitting on a four-point lead among likely voters in the November election. So says the Iowa Poll, the holy grail of political polling, conducted by Ann Selzer of West Des Moines and published in The Des Moines Sunday Register.

It shakes my pride.

How can it be?

How can the state that gave us the “Music Man” vote for such a vile buffoon?

The answer lies in our demographic: way too many uneducated white men.

They admire Trump when he says he is such a star he can grab women by the genitals and make it with them.

Yeah, man. You tell ’em.

He is 59 years old. He has been welding all his adult life, the same place the last 25 years. He makes $18 per hour. He cannot afford cataract surgery. The new punk on the line makes fun of him. He would like to be anywhere but there. Another is 55 years old. He has been working for The Man for 35 years. He makes $16 per hour to get down in the boiler room and paint — could he just get a glass of water? “I’ll have to check,” the supervisor says. They wonder: Why doesn’t someone give me a government grant to do nothing? Why can’t I get some tax increment financing for my hunting truck with a bad transmission? Why didn’t anyone give me a free college education?

How does Barack Obama get to the White House and I just get the shaft?

Where did I go wrong?

That’s why Trump is winning. And, no doubt, Steve King.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t appear to care. She talks about growing together, but what is she going to do for the guy in Webster City after the Electrolux plant bailed for Mexico?


They all know it.

Obama couldn’t do anything. Clinton won’t. Bush was a dweeb. They’re all the same.

That’s what the guys are saying, the ones with guns on the open range.

Except for Trump.

He gives the world the middle finger.

They like it.

Because they want to do the same but they can’t. They have a mortgage, a loan on that hunting truck and one on the way.

But they can root for him. They can vote for him. They all know he’s a sexist and racist, but down deep what man isn’t? Plus, he doesn’t pay taxes. Now that is righteous.

Take it from the dude from Dallas Center, an Iowa Poll respondent. He told The Register that when Trump uses the F word in public it is empowering. It is cool. You know this guy would like to tell the world to take a flying leap.

Trump is doing it and getting away with it. There’s a glee in that. You might take it for a movement. One that tells everybody else to kiss their moon.

Harold Hughes implored us to take stock in ourselves and lift ourselves up through our own spirit.

Robert Ray asked us to welcome the stranger whom we had abused through war and deprivation.

Grant Wood urged us to revolt against the city and its hardness.

Henry Wallace invited us to dream through science and hope.

Keith Briscoe advised us to take the lamp shade off Iowa and shine it to the world.

When half of us want to flip off everyone else and vote for Donald Trump — a man who says he is such a star he can make it with any woman — then I have already left the state I learned to love. I am living in some sort of alternate Iowa reality that says this Iowa Poll cannot come true.

What has become of us? Are we that poor?

We are. That mythical Iowa probably left us with the family farm. All we have to show for it is fouled water, hog waste in the air and a lousy job working nights in Marshalltown. Cynicism has won.