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Shotgun Season

Deer in the state park – Photo Credit Heidi Smith

Today is the first day of shotgun deer season. Until Dec. 17 Iowa shows its culture in tradition-laden, bloody and violent detail.

The deer population needs culling. The damage they do in nature and on farms goes mostly unnoticed by city dwellers. The closer one lives to the land, the more empathy there is with the deer hunt. My solution to deer over-population β€” re-introducing wolves β€” is not going to fly where cattle, hog and chicken producers and ranchers live.

Roughly a third of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun, according to PEW Research Center. Estimates vary but there is about one gun for every man, woman and child in the United States. Given that reality, hunting serves a purpose to promote education, safe gun ownership, and proper handling of firearms. Gun ownership rates have been in decline since the 1970s.

I encountered a herd of deer on my way back from the home, farm and auto supply store last night. I’m pretty sure they sense what is coming. Many of my colleagues at the store are deer hunters. In some cases, husband and wife hunt together and mount their trophies side by side in the living room. Last year’s Iowa deer harvest was reported by hunters as 101,397, a typical year.

Iowa’s hunting culture seems sane and a bit reassuring against last week’s tumultuous news cycle. Opening the Twitter app on my smart phone was like viewing a portal directly to hell. Reading this week’s news stories was like drinking from a fire hose that left me ragged and didn’t suppress the hellfire. I felt thirsty for more after each Twitter session.

Given that, what to write about?

Despite what’s been in the news ad nauseum (Republican Tax Bill, Flynn flipping in the Mueller probe; emoluments investigation; U.S. boycott of the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony; Interior Department selling vast seams of coal from national monuments for $0.41 per ton; EPA discarding Obama era rules requiring mining companies to fund cleanup from hard rock mining) the story that stuck with me is related to how we can change all the junk we see. Elections still matter and the 2018 election matters a lot.

Brent Hayworth, reporter for the Sioux City Journal, wrote about a Nov. 30 meeting  of 110 Democrats from South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska held in Sioux City.

“Let’s do something and not just have lunch,” Linda Smoley, chairwoman of the Siouxland Progressive Women said. The group worked on strategy to turn out voters during the 2018 election.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price attended the meeting.

“They said we would never win again, we could just go out to pasture,” Price said. “Democrats do what we always do β€” when we get knocked down, we get back up.”

This verbiage could have happened at any Democratic meeting after a tough election. Here’s what made the difference:

“In Iowa,” Hayworth wrote, “Price said a lesson from the 2016 election was the so-called coordinated campaign, where candidates tap the state party for help, ‘has not been working, it has been too top down.'”

This was a key learning experience for me during past campaigns. Price acknowledging it, and potentially doing something to change our political campaigns, validates the idea Iowa Democrats must and will find a new path forward to regain control of elected offices currently held by Republicans.

Good news during a hellish week. Better news than I expected.