Iowa and the country are heading into a weird place. The combination of isolated lives made more so by the pandemic, social media, and unceasing stimulus from people and corporations wanting to convince us of something brought us here. The sense of loss is palpable.
I miss the political environment we had when I was growing up, when Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were president. Democrats were in the minority in Iowa yet I felt there was a secure place for people whose opinions differed from the majority. That feeling was lost, slowly eroded until it was gone. There are few prospects of it returning. All that is visible is a bare wound with the bandages of society ripped off. We are becoming a place where our assumptions about feeling welcome are challenged.
To meet this — that is, to maintain mental health — I return to specific actions in a limited context, to wit: Once the winners of the June 7 primary election are known, it’s hammer down to the Nov. 8 general election. There will be plenty of political work to do in that five-month period. The Iowa Democratic Party reached out for an organizing event this week in the First Congressional District, and I plan to do my part. After the rout in 2020, why won’t I give up? There is a bigger picture related to needing something useful and fulfilling to do.
It begins with the idea people are not that interested in my stories about old campaigns. I told my story about helping elect Lyndon Johnson in 1964, yet there are only so many times that old saw can be brought out. It still cuts wood among people who haven’t heard it. Trouble is, most people I hang with have heard it.
As I age my views become less relevant to people on life’s main stage. I’m being mostly forgotten, not quite a has-been, but one can see it from here. I’m okay with that. I remain a predictable Democratic vote and can bring a few people with me when needed.
As far as the economy goes, my fixed income isn’t a driver. When the curtain falls on this mortal coil, my payments to the gas, telephone and cable company won’t be missed. My insurance company may miss me, yet once the final payments are made the relationship will be over.
We need short-term projects, in which to engage. Projects like the 2022 midterm election campaign. It helps us forget the hopelessness of modern society and the hegemony of rich folk hard at work deconstructing what few protections remain in government programs like Social Security and Medicare. I miss the old days, yet look forward to the new, even if the sense of loss is palpable.
I think there is a song about that.