When a person lives in Iowa it is hard to avoid noticing the harvest.
74 percent of Iowa soybeans and 38 percent of corn had been harvested as of Oct. 17. We are running a few days ahead of historical averages because it has been exceedingly dry. The entire state is experiencing drought conditions. I held off burning the brush pile because there is a Red Flag Warning, which means extreme fire conditions combined with high wind and low relative humidity. Everything is parched.
As I write this post on a Saturday afternoon, the ambient temperature is 78 degrees with a high of 82 expected in a couple of hours. The average high temperature here is 61 degrees in October. For Oct. 22, it is warm. One needn’t be a scientist to understand something is going on.
On Thursday I delivered my spouse to her sister’s place in Des Moines. We had a lot to talk about as we passed fields with farmers harvesting corn and beans. Between Williamsburg and Altoona, Interstate 80 is a hinterland of row crops, wind turbines and the detritus of retail establishments grown up to service a few locals, but mostly travelers. Towns and cities are hidden from sight.
On the way back, I turned on the car radio and began searching for channels. I avoided the religious stations and settled on a couple of country music and classic rock programs to help me make it back within range of my usual ones. From the ads, it became clear that Republicans dominate rural Iowa.
Governor Kim Reynolds has a substantial campaign war chest and attorney general candidate Brenna Bird just got a major donation from the Republican Attorneys General Association to defeat incumbent Tom Miller. These two Republicans have money to burn on their campaigns. The radio ads repeated during my trip. Whether any farmers were listening while running the combines and grain wagons, I don’t know. Republican messaging filled the vacuum left by Democrats.
To be effective, radio advertising must exist and be repetitive. In the Iowa hinterlands, it is the domain of statewide candidates and big money. Tom Miller was unlikely planning to spend millions on his campaign. Republicans are trying to buy an attorney general.
Our gubernatorial candidate, Deidre DeJear, simply doesn’t have the money for radio advertising even though it is cheap. My worry is her television advertising goes dark as we enter the last two weeks of the campaign, leaving Republicans the only voices heard there as well. During the primary, another Democratic candidate for governor dropped out of the race because he couldn’t get a meeting with major Democratic donors.
As the miles fell behind me the ads repeated. Running down President Biden and associating the Democratic candidates with him because of his unpopularity. Every sentence repeated was a pack of lies. When it is the only political voice rural people hear, it’s hard to stand up to it.
The election is in 17 days. Whatever the outcome, we have to do better to dig out of the hole we dug for ourselves. It’s possible, yet without the rural areas, I’m not sure how that happens.
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