Well, Iowa is now a bright red state. Congratulations, Republicans.
The Iowa Legislature is redder. The congressional delegation is more crimson. We’re not yet sure if Donald Trump will remain president, but Iowans endorsed his brand of leadership.
The celebrations are ongoing. Cry more, libs. The gloating is the best part!
And yet, firmly red Iowa faces some dilemmas.
Our economic development types have been bending over backward for years trying to portray Iowa as a progressive place, a state where young college-educated professions can thrive. We’ve touted our welcoming ways and our Iowa niceties. We’ve emphasized our commitment to diversity, hoping cutting edge firms will look our direction. Plug the drains and keep some brains.
Our state development-pitchers set up a fake real estate office in New York City to show how affordable our housing is. Our governor touts her plan to fund outdoor recreation as a head-turner on the coasts. We’re not flyover country. We’re a destination. We have lofts, almond milk and craft beer.
Please, college graduates and young professionals, give Iowa a try. We’d also like our children to stick around. We’ve become attached to them over the years and would like to see them occasionally without having to board a jet.
But now that we’ve decided to become red as a wailing firetruck, it’s going to be a tougher sell. Not long ago we were the politically feisty purple state that legalized same-sex marriage and touted our ahead-of-the curve history of protecting civil rights. We were the discerning home of the first-in-the-nation caucuses that sent Barack Obama on his way to the White House.
Now we’re Nebraska, with more hills and no Runzas.
We’re a state with dirty water that isn’t going to clean it up. We’re a state that denies necessary medical care to transgender Iowans who rely on Medicaid or other public health insurance. If LGBTQ rights erode nationally, we will join the march backward. We’re a state that tries to restrict abortion rights and will ban abortion the minute Roe v. Wade is overturned.
We’re Trump’s Midwestern stronghold, where our Republican leaders have enthusiastically embraced the president through every sordid chapter of mendacity. We’re a state that’s given up trying to control the coronavirus pandemic, allowing our hospitals to fill up while deaths climb. We’re a state where we stiff priorities such as higher education to pay for more tax cuts. At our Statehouse, hogs have more influence over policy than people. Climate change? Don’t ask.
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Polls suggest this is not a brand of politics millennials and Generation Z will embrace. Iowa is not progressive, no matter how much lipstick we put on the pigs. Companies that care about diversity, the environment and the civil rights of their workforce will not be flocking here. And good luck keeping young, talented Iowans. The brains will keep on draining.
As for our caucuses, at least on the Democratic side, I think we’ve seen our last first-in-the nation spectacle. Why would they start their nomination process in New Nebraska?
Apparently Iowans are OK with all of this. We’re now bright red, even if that means being less bright.
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