Living in Society

Inner Politics of Politics

Before the Poll Opens

I’m happy to participate in Iowa politics. At the same time, it is not the sine qua non of living in society.

Despite a long patriarchal lineage of political engagement, beginning in Virginia 100 years prior to the American Revolution, I don’t care for the gossipy, back-biting, outrage-invoking folderol modern politics has become in the age of FOX News.

I’d rather be working in our garden.

Two weeks before the June 5 primary election a couple of political things are worth noting.

With so many races that matter on the ballot, it is hard to focus energy. There’s the gubernatorial race with six Democratic candidates, secretary of state with two, state Senate District 37 with four, and county supervisor with three for two positions. It’s hard to pick a uniform, actionable slate because the support matrix differs so much among voters. Mine is Norris-DeJear-Wahls-Carberry-Rettig.

There is a lot of energy around female candidates, Heiden and Weiner particularly. That energy is positive for their campaigns. With it, each of them created a viable path to the nomination.

Let’s talk about that. Two people I respect, Jean Lloyd-Jones and Maggie Tinsman, created a non-partisan, issue-neutral organization dedicated to achieving political equity for women — 50-50 in 2020. In Johnson County there is a slate to help get there, including Janice Weiner for Senate District 37 and Pat Heiden for county supervisor. Both candidates are well organized and made themselves to be contenders. They are also well-qualified. Within the people who support them is a politically correct idea about electing women. The narrative goes something like what I heard when Weiner’s campaign door knocked our house. “Janice is a well-qualified candidate in a field of good candidates, who happens to be a woman.” We’ll find out after the primary whether that kind of campaign has legs. It might.

After the disastrous for Democrats 2016 Iowa caucuses and general election, a group called Our Revolution organized the shrapnel from the Bernie Sanders campaign in an attempt to avoid assimilation with the party. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but the history of such groups includes eventual assimilation into Iowa politics whether organizers like it or not. Iowa political history is laden with the ghosts of past third party movements like the Liberal Republicans, the Greenback Movement, the Populist Movement and the familiar-sounding Progressive Movement.

The June 5 primary will test the mettle of Our Revolution which has endorsed Cathy Glasson for governor and Deidre DeJear for secretary of state. Recent polling by the Des Moines Register suggests Glasson hasn’t got the votes to win June 5. The impact the primary has on Our Revolution will be most notable in the Johnson County Supervisor race where Mike Carberry was a prominent spokesman for Bernie Sanders during the run up to the Iowa caucuses and is part of Our Revolution. I’m supporting Carberry, but if Heiden picks him off, the local efficacy of Our Revolution is sketchy at best.  I would argue such groups serve a limited long-term purpose.

Lastly, voters I know have been relatively quiet about the primary. I’m the only person in our subdivision with any political yard signs displayed. That may be because so many candidates are running and topics like gardening are more appealing than politics in neighborhood discussions. It may also be because of a lack of interest in the primary and disgust with politics more generally. The expectation among politically engaged folks I know is turnout will be good because of the disastrous Trump administration and 87th Iowa General Assembly. After the votes are counted, we’ll see how engaged Jane or Joe Democrat was. This close to the primary I don’t see any need to handicap the races.

First things first. I need to get the garden in, after which I can devote more time to politics.