I am not originally from Iowa but I grew up here, so I consider it home, and always will. Just briefly I was embarrassed when I heard what had happened to the great Iowa caucuses and then I got over it, sort of. Having the status of what is called first-in-the-nation has its upside: we have opportunities to meet people who may one day lead our country and many millions of dollars come in to the state. But I think that, finally, the party is over, which is probably as it should be.
Every four years an hilarious political circus begins a yearlong run here in the small towns of my quiet, mannered state and every four years members of the national media follow candidates in to small town cafes and restaurants, seeking out ‘ordinary’ Iowans. i.e. elderly people
And in a state of old people like me the Democratic Party decides to tally results using a cellular phone system. Brilliant. And now they are blaming the software, rather than the people who developed it, rather like blaming a bank for its misdeeds without holding an actual human accountable. But I know nothing of these things, as I don’t have cellular phone service out at my place, but I do know that pen and paper systems still work very well. And when you screw up using pen and paper you can go back and clean up your mess.
I had a feeling the reputation of Iowa (whatever that is) was in trouble when a few days before the caucuses the much-respected CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll didn’t release its final caucus polling because of some mishandling of information. It felt like we were leaning toward an off side flag, which was ultimately thrown Monday night.
So what happens now? Television stations will happily count the enormous amounts of cash made during the political season, members of the Democratic Party here will engineer a circular firing squad, and there will be lot of hand wringing by those who believe this all means something.
And me? I’m looking forward to spring but for now snow still covers the ground here and the temperatures hover quite messily just below freezing. Tomorrow a service person will come down my graveled road to do some work on a stove that quit working over the weekend, there is a Farm & Home Show I’ll likely attend in a nearby town, and I’ll probably burn the pile of the political flyers I accrued during the past year, but only after checking on the American Bald Eagles that have been working on a deer carcass in a neighbor’s cornfield. You want to feel good about America? Hang with the eagles and me.
The morning after the now infamous Iowa caucuses I drove to a nearby town to pick up a few groceries and in the fresh vegetable section I walked past a woman with a young boy in her cart. There is nothing unusual about this except that the boy was talking, and not talking to his mother. Mom had handed her son a banana and suggested he make a call, so he did, handling the banana like a telephone, gleefully chatting it up with whoever was on the other end of the line. It was a priceless human disconnect; and this week it felt just right.
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Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press