WEST BRANCH— After my talk at the Quaker school, I drove west through the darkened town. The streets were familiar as I had walked them each two years ago during a political campaign. I remembered faces and conversations as each one passed. It’s not my town, so I let the memories go into the night. I was ready to be home.
West Branch is the liberal center of Cedar County, with part of the city situated in Johnson County. There are two Quaker meetings, and the birthplace and presidential library of the first Quaker president, Herbert Hoover. The city is about more than Quakerism. There was no time for that as I drove into a western sky glowing from Coralville’s bright lights.
2012 was the worst heat and drought I remember. It was relentless. I wore shorts and blue short sleeve shirts to door knock during the campaign, covering almost every street in every town, and most unincorporated areas in the district. I approached farmsteads scattered midst the drought stricken corn to tell our tale. It was a scorcher and we lost the election.
Some say people receive their information about politics from the television, but I don’t know about that. I get most of mine from people I know or meet, experiences I have, and a few trusted news sites on the Internet. There is a headiness in being involved with politics, mostly from meeting the candidates, some of whom are recognizable in the broader society. The trouble is we can’t live our lives in isolation. Like it or not, we are connected to the body politic, and to accomplish things, one is required to engage.
Yet on some nights all we care about is getting home, and Saturday night, home was enough. That and driving through the darkness to something other than the ersatz illumination of a city on the horizon—toward sleep and tomorrow’s promise.