Sadly, almost the only attention Iowa gets is from Steve King. I truly hope people in other states don’t actually think King ‘represents’ the average Iowan.
What many people don’t realize is that Iowa is a rather moderate state. We are the real Middle America. The Midwest isn’t Deep South Lite. Yes, we have our share of the worse kind of Republicans, but the Midwest is also known for having a strong element of progressivism. Gay marriage is legal in Iowa and the legalization of medical marijuana was being discussed in Iowa recently.
Because of Iowa’s moderateness, the Tea Party has had a hard time getting momentum in here. The harsh rhetoric of fear-mongering and hate speech simply doesn’t appeal to most Iowans. Polarizing rhetoric works best in poor conservative states where there is great socio-economic disparity, but in Iowa we are relatively less class conscious and we have more of an attitude of respecting our neighbors. Here is from a Tea Party in Iowa:
Doug Burnett, the event’s first speaker, urged the crowd to stress the positive rather than the negative.
“Let’s watch our words. Thoughts become attitudes, attitudes become words and words become actions. I hear too often people saying, ‘I’m scared. I’m scared for my country. I’m scared for my way of life’ and I don’t doubt the sincerity of that sentiment, but I do question the accuracy of the words.
“Scared is negative. It’s powerless. It’s debilitating. Scared is what happens when you wake up in the middle of the night to that bump, right?
“We’re frustrated. We’re angry. We’re concerned and trust me, many times I look at our elected leaders and I see the boogey man, but we are the Tea Party and we aren’t scared of anything. Are you scared? We don’t do scared.
“Think of words that are positive and accurate, like ‘I’m engaged. I’m empowered. I’m moved to action.’”
Maybe we moderate Midwesterners (excepting Rep. King of course) could be a model for the rest of the country. This is particularly true for the younger generations of Americans who have been turned away from politics because of all the divisiveness, negative rhetoric and partisan bickering. For example, Christian Fong is a young Iowa Republican who has started a bipartisan organizing campaign.
Christian Fong says The Iowa Dream Project is targeting Iowans who’re considered Millennials or part of Generation X. “The goal of the project is twofold. One, it’s just to get young people involved and engaged. I think every Iowan of any age will look and say, ‘Iowa’s going to be a better place when our young people are involved and engaged in making their communities better,’” Fong says. “But secondly it’s about making the tone something that is inviting to the next generation.”
Fong intends for The Iowa Dream Project to foster discussion about ideas and solutions rather than to be a new place for finger-pointing. “I think the next generation often looks at kind of the mean-spirited kind of slogan shouting that masquerades as political discussion and they despise it,” Fong says. “They want nothing to do with it.”
Today’s “Tea Party” rallies are a bit of a turnoff to most young people, according to Fong. ”You don’t even have to understand the issue to be able to hurl a slogan at the other side. It’s not respectful. It’s not honoring your peers. It’s not ideas-based. It’s really not what the next generation is looking for,” Fong says. “Whether it’s a political movement, a political party or a candidate — if they want to win the next generation, they’re going to have to say, ‘In five or 10 years, this is what we want Iowa to be and these are the specific steps we’re going to have to take to get there.’”