Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Sound of Political Silence

Iowa had its big moment last night.  It comes every four years, and you could hear the collective sigh of relief this morning as the politicians exited.  This year, with only one party  searching for a nominee, it wasn't quite as bad as 4 years ago when we were getting harassed from both sides.  But nonetheless, I'm happy to have the political commercials replaced (with anything).  There's always a lot of debate about whether or not Iowa matters.  Whether we should have such an important and high-profile spot in the presidential nominating process.  I don't know the answer to that question and I wrote a lot about it when I was in school, actually.

In early December, a University of Iowa journalism professor wrote an article in The Atlantic online that tried to paint a picture of "real" Iowa and make the argument that Iowa is not representative of the country as a whole.  He's right on that point.  And well, he has every right to have the opinion and to write the piece.  He makes valid points about Iowa's shortcomings and the issues of small towns.  But similar criticisms can be made of small towns everywhere.  When the brouhaha exploded last month, I sat down to read the article with the expectation that everyone was over-reacting, being too sensitive, and needed to put down the pitchforks.  But halfway through the article he lost me with his sweeping generalizations and stereotypes, but yes, everyone does need to put down the pitchforks.  He paints a picture of Iowa with broad strokes.  He gets basic facts wrong.  And he's a journalism professor who has chosen to live in this state for over 20 years.  Rykert, a relative newcomer to the state, didn't have quite the same visceral reaction.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of criticisms to be made about the presidential nominating process and allowing Iowa, or any state, to always go first.  Bring on those arguments.   But I don't think the argument should start by tearing Iowa apart and focusing on its every weakness.  It's like when we tell people who don't live here about less than perfect winter weather, and they respond by saying, "How do you live there?"  It's a rude and presumptuous question that drives me batty.

Anyway, a local filmmaker made a really nice response to all those flyover naysayers.  You should watch it, but as a warning there's some cursing so it's marked as NSFW:

And you know what, we are nice - even if we are, to borrow from Garrison Keilor, ostentatious about our humility.

P.S.  I also liked this blog post rebuttal from Raygun, a t-shirt shop in Des Moines.  Because I speak fluent sarcasm.   

1 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Jennifer said...

As a transported Iowan for the past 25 years, I really enjoyed your post. I left Iowa at 17, so unfortunately, never actually participated in the caucuses. I moved to NYC/CT area 17+ years ago and love being from Iowa. I often say "You can take the girl out of Iowa... but you can't take Iowa out of the girl" Hope you get some much needed political respite before the November ads start again...

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