Living in Society

Last Walk in Solon

Solon Beef Days parade entry, July 16, 2022. Photo Credit – Johnson County Democrats

Most of my political friends no longer walk in the Solon Beef Days parade. This year may be my last, as well. If anything, participating in our politics is about nurturing long-term friendships. When old friends are absent, it’s time to make new ones or move on.

A positive thing about parades is the conversations with candidates and elected officials that are possible. The Johnson County Democrats entry included State Rep. Christina Bohannan who is running for the U.S. Congress, State Senator Kevin Kinney, County Auditor Travis Weipert, and County Supervisors Lisa Green-Douglass and Jon Green. House District 91 candidate Elle Wyant had her own entry further back in the lineup. Informal accessibility makes for good conversation and remains a positive aspect of participating in parades.

I wore a Mike Franken for U.S. Senate t-shirt with my old Solon Beef Days ball cap. Later that afternoon the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll reported Franken trails incumbent Chuck Grassley by eight points. There is a steep hill to climb for Franken to win. It’s not impossible, yet not easy either. Democrats are not afraid to do the work.

“It is his weakest showing since 1980,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said of Grassley’s results. It only takes 50 percent plus one vote to win, I retort.

Each cycle it becomes increasingly clear Iowa is returning to its conservative roots. As older folks step off the main political stage, younger people debut with different values, creating a new electorate which is taking a turn to the extreme right. Democrats have been relegated to minority party status for the time being. I plan to stay engaged in party politics in a county where Democrats hold a significant voter registration advantage. I’ll have less to say as I age.

Leaving the state is not a real option for us. Our living family was born here and starting over would take more energy than we have. Our finances are stable, we own our home, and our health is reasonably good. I don’t know to where we’d move that would offer better opportunities for septuagenarians. We are bound to the state where we were born.

The county party opened an office in nearby North Liberty on Friday. I gathered some 35 yard signs and delivered them there so they would be more available for voters. I’ll help distribute yard signs from our garage when the big push comes, yet for now, better the office has them to distribute. I didn’t stick around for the speeches from gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear, congressional candidate Christina Bohannan, and others. I heard everyone scheduled to be there speak multiple times. Before I left, I signed the volunteer sheet and will help out with the office if they need me.

Saturday was my last political walk through Solon in a parade. I’m thankful for all the experiences and have no regrets. I wish my successors well.