Living in Society

Political Landscape

Ben Keiffer (L) and Dr. Christopher Peters chatting at Pints and Politics event, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018

I hope the procession of deaths of friends and acquaintances will give it a rest for a while. I need to think about other things, namely gardening, cooking, writing, reading, and to some extent, politics. That last one sticks in my craw.

My new process of saving political newsletters to read over each weekend is working well to offload worries about political life. Better to save them and review all at once, I thought. The decision made me more productive during the week. I can see which elected officials are doing the work and which are phoning it in.

One newsletter stands out. Brad Sherman, my representative’s newsletter, sent from his campaign website. Sherman is a fringe member of political society. As a preacher, he is also on the fringe of nondenominational congregations. I compare him to other Republicans I’ve known and he doesn’t seem to work at getting to know constituents except those that produce a vote for him. Not only is Sherman on the fringe, he is plain weird. I gain insight into the weird at the expense of foregoing my priorities for state government. It is an unsavory dish to swallow.

Sherman won the election fair and square, even beating the Democrat in typically liberal Johnson County. We’re stuck with him until 2024, although depressed voter turnout and lack of interest in politics may be his ticket to reelection.

What don’t I like about him? In his last newsletter he wrote,

It has become obvious, for anyone who is not under the spell of the corrupt mainstream media, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Election fraud is now out in the open and it is time for it to be dealt with. And if the 2020 election was fraudulent, then Donald Trump is the rightful president, and we must insist that this gets fixed!

Brad Sherman legislative newsletter, April 6, 2023

It is tedious to mention Joe Biden won the 2020 general election for president the same way Sherman did, fair and square. I won’t be taking that up with him as he is off in the deep end. I don’t want to get dragged down with him as I have gardening and other things to do, as mentioned. Whether electing a Democrat in this district is possible is an open question. My sense is few people are paying attention to politics these days.

Iowa Democrats are in transition, as is the entirety of the state.

Much has been made this news cycle of the 565,000 registered Iowa voters who didn’t vote in the 2022 midterm elections. Secretary of State Paul Pate is sending letters to them all to receive confirmation they want to remain on the rolls. No response, you are purged in 2026. Yes Republicans are working to purge voters from the rolls. My comment is a little different. Did Democrats really leave 565,000 votes on the table in 2022? I believe Obama 2008 would never have left that many fish in the pond. My take is sloth set in.

Democrats have a lot of plans, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Centralized thinking about winning elections hasn’t worked for a long time, likely since the big wins in 2006 when the electorate decided they’d had it with George W. Bush and Republicans more generally. The worm has turned now.

My experience during the 2022 cycle was there were very few active Democrats in the nine Johnson County precincts in House District 91. Most have trouble filling two seats on the county central committee, let alone doing much during GOTV in the run up to the election. Partly, this is apathy, but partly the Democratic Party. More than apathy, Democrats have lost the relevance of which they are continuously reminding us. Other factors play more important roles in people’s lives. Politics is not high on the list of what is important.

Iowans are amenable to collective thought, and that serves Republicans. Farmers alone have to listen to bankers, equipment dealers, chemical companies, seed companies, and people who make a market in the commodities they grow. Without being collective farms, farmers act like them voluntarily because it serves their best interests to conform to the demands of people and organizations they rely upon. Evidence of the success of our form of agriculture is that millions of people haven’t died of hunger as they did in the hey day of collective farms in the Soviet Union.

It’s been a couple days since one of my friends and acquaintances died. Let’s see if we can go a few weeks before there is another. In the meanwhile, I’m keeping politics on the back burner.