So I arose on the morning after the election, after a short night’s sleep, and wrote a column arguing that Iowa’s status as a red state will make it tougher to keep and attract more liberally minded, educated young people. We sell Iowa in economic development pitches as a welcoming, progressive place to work and live, but its politics suggest something very different.
I figured Republicans wouldn’t agree. But I also thought they’d be too busy and giddy celebrating their big gains in Iowa to pay much attention to my scribblings.
Wrong again. Many weighed in. They were not pleased, nor giddy.
Many readers pointed to my ending line “We’re now bright red, even if that means being less bright.” To clarify, I meant the state would be less bright as it fails to attract diverse, talented newcomers and keep young, smart people from leaving. Readers thought I was talking about their individual brightness, or the brightness of Republicans.
“I’m surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to use our president’s rhetoric and call me ‘less bright,’” one reader wrote.
Sorry for the confusion. But reader thoughts about my intellect were much clearer.
“Hey Toddy, you truly are a dumbass. You don’t get it do you?” one said in a voicemail.
“Obviously if Iowa will experience a brain drain you’ll be staying!” wrote another reader.
“Your article should be moved to the Comics section because it’s a joke and I only read it for its predictable and laughable entertainment value,” another added.
Well, I’m no Mallard Fillmore but it’s worth exploring.
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“I am sorry you hate Iowa,” a reader said. “Actually, I would be happy to buy you a one-way ticket to California ‘utopia.’”
“Your column this morning is pathetic. You and The Gazette are so far left you should be in California or New York,” suggested another.
“Poor Toddy! It must be so difficult for someone of your superior intellect to live with all of us rubes in Iowa! You know Toddy, if you really were intelligent you would pack up your bags and move to California or Oregon with the rest of your superior intellectually gifted bath house buddies!” my most persistent anonymous troll wrote.
Some suggested I move to Illinois. Others wanted me to go further.
“At least we have a brain to drain, you have neither. If you don’t like Iowa, maybe you should go write for another paper. I think they’re taking applications in Russia!” a reader wrote.
One reader argued a brain drain would be good for Iowa.
“I, for one, would applaud that ‘brain drain.’ I also feel the loss of radically progressive college grads to be a good thing. I prefer an ounce of common sense to a pound of political correctness!” he wrote.
And I got more career advice.
“Do you suppose the Republican candidates who refused to meet with your editorial board are regretting their decision? It should be painfully obvious to you now that nobody gives a shit what you think? I’d look for a new line of work that actually means something,” a reader suggested.
“You are an embarrassment to that liberal rag you call a newspaper, and especially to the GOOD people of Iowa. No wonder The Gazette is hurting, and thanks to the sports page,” a reader said.
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“Still getting The Gazette for free, so at least my subscription don’t pay your salary, and I smile every time I think about it,” he added.
Others offered coping strategies. There seemed to be a theme.
“Todd, quit whining and just suck it up. Apparently most Iowans do not move in your stratosphere,” one wrote.
“Face it, Mr. Dorman, Iowa is a conservative state and except for the college kids that are taught by liberals, we probably always will be so suck it up!”
One reader called for a management change.
“I wonder if The Gazette could coax Jerry Elsea out of retirement so that he could revive the editorial pages that you’ve wrecked,” he suggested Thursday afternoon.
Actually, I did hear from Elsea earlier on Thursday.
“Fine words this morning, Todd,” Elsea said in an email. “I couldn’t have said it as well.”
And, frankly, I did get a lot of positive responses. Many lamented Iowa’s rightward political lurch. People of all ages are wondering whether they should stick around.
One thoughtful reader argued our divisions will only deepen.
“In addition to creating a disincentive for young people to move into Iowa from out of state, our politics will only exacerbate the shift of young people away from the rural counties and small cities toward the corridors. Blue will get bluer and red will get redder. Think it’s hard to get someone to move to Clinton or Tipton or Maquoketa or Burlington or Ottumwa now? Try in another few years when the things you write about become law,” he wrote.
Thanks to all the bright people who weighed in. Toddy’s got to go suck it up.
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