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I was proud to be an Iowan | News, Sports, Jobs

We dipped our toes in the snowbird water in January, escaping the cold of Iowa for the warmth and splendor of Arizona. One of the first lessons learned – you can escape Iowa, but you can’t escape Iowans.

Iowans are everywhere in Arizona – grocery stores, restaurants, hiking trails, pickle ball courts, golf courses, and more. And it’s not surprising – they enjoy life to the fullest.

Yet they remain interested in the latest news from their home country.

An example – on a beautiful 71 degree day in Arizona, we met a couple from central Iowa and struck up a conversation.

They were in their late sixties. After chatting about the weather, careers, kids and grandkids, and more, they wanted to talk about current affairs in Iowa and the latest headlines from the Iowa Capitol.

The conversation took an unexpected turn when one of them volunteered: “I was proud to be an Iowan.”

Still curious, we probed for more details.

They described themselves as conservative Democrats, more observers of politics and government than active participants, and greatly pained by what they heard from home.

They and we talked about the days when:

• Senators Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, political opponents, got along and worked together to promote Iowa’s interests.

• The Republican Party has backed smart, reasonable, and less partisan leaders like Mary Louise Smith, Bob Ray, Art Neu, and Joy Corning.

• Elected officials on all sides believed in the value of public education and worked to maintain rankings that put Iowa at or near the top.

• Teachers and administrators were held in high regard. Parents trusted educators to teach them a range of issues and ideas. The public was comfortable having books in school libraries that exposed children to places, events, and lives unknown to their parents.

• Public health was about promoting and preserving health, not about espousing political opinion or drawing attention to someone’s political aspirations.

• Leaders wanted Iowa to be more than a low-tax state. They wanted Iowa to be a place where people would grow and stay – with great education systems, high-quality jobs, vibrant communities, clean lakes and streams, maintained parks, safe bridges, and values. who tell everyone “You are welcome here.”

Much of the conversation focused on the vast decline in the attitudes and tactics of too many of our elected officials at the state level; people who:

• Say one thing and do another (example – say they support transparency in government while limiting journalists’ ability to keep Iowans informed).

• See the political value of using offensive words and gestures to make headlines and fundraise for the campaign.

• Stay silent while their elected peers derail Iowa with absurd bills (examples: throwing “sinister” teachers in prison and installing cameras in classrooms to keep them under surveillance).

• Ban books today and maybe start burning them tomorrow.

• Believe that those who control the state house can run it like a “good old boys club” and do what they want when they want, trample on the minority party, and do it with an arrogance that too often passes for meanness.

• Embrace small and limited government while micromanaging schools, cities, and counties.

• Focus relentlessly on individual rights (unless you are female, minority, student, LGBTQ, etc.) while appearing totally oblivious or indifferent to our responsibilities to others.

As the conversation faded, our fellow Iowans asked this: “Is there anything we can do to improve Iowa? »

Our response: Iowa will be what voters say it will be. If people who are unhappy with the direction Iowa is going are engaging and staying fully engaged (donating $$, knocking on doors, making calls, etc.) to support worthy candidates, there is a chance that the decline can be stopped.

If people who are upset choose to sit on the sidelines, then the Iowa we once knew will be just a fading memory.

Many more will bow their heads in sadness and join the “I was proud to be an Iowan” group.

John and Terri Hale are owners of The Hale Group, an Ankeny-based advocacy company dedicated to making Iowa a better place for everyone. John Hale is a former Fort Dodge City Councilman.

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