I went to college in Iowa and lived in Iowa after graduating. I’ve paid taxes in Iowa, imbibed Iowa beer and gnawed Iowa corn straight off the cob on hot August afternoons. In winter, I’ve waded through deep snows and in spring watched riptide floods haul detritus off the landscape toward the great Mississippi River that forms the entire eastern border of the state of Iowa.
Iowa is also a surprisingly beautiful state if you know where to look. But admittedly, Iowa is primarily known as an agricultural state. Thus some people think it boring. From border to border there are farmers who raise corn and hogs, create dairy products and soybeans. Each plays a big part in feeding the world.
That role is one shared by stalwart farmers across the Midwest and Central plains of North America. The nation invests in that commitment with huge monetary support in a form of corporate welfare for agribusiness. Yet real farmers, the guys and gals with equipment and land on the line, have quite often been hung out to dry when markets go south on commodity products. One can’t help feel for those people, and crop insurance and other federal programs do provide a form of security for America’s agricultural sector. If I were a politician, I would likely vote for a farm bill too. Many Democrats do.
Falling in it
So it is with some reticence that I’m willing to criticize Iowa and their apparent choices in politicians. Every four years when the Presidential election settles into Iowa it astounds me that generally sensible Iowans seem to be prone to the confused lies of city-slicker politicians who descend on the state in hopes of earning support for the nomination.
The most recent politician to sway Iowa voters is none other than Ben Carson, the former surgeon now leading the Iowa polls. His public statements thus far in the political campaign have been assessed by sources such as Politifact and found severely wanting in terms of baseline truth. In sum, Ben Carson is a practiced and habitual liar at least half the way, but all the time.
Even when his clearly advertised connections to a scurrilous nutritional supplement company were exposed, he flatly denied ever having done any business for the company. It was not hard for journalists to find the commercials he’d actually done on behalf of the company. Carson is heard liberally endorsing the products. Yet Carson denies this is any sort of connection. As reported on CNN: “The WSJ reports Carson has appeared in videos that were on Mannatech’s website until earlier this month. The videos were removed soon after the Journal’s reporting. The paper also reported that Carson gave four paid speeches at company events; the most recent was in 2013 for which Carson was paid $42,000.”
But it’s not just Ben Carson who has problems with the truth. Carly Fiorina keeps getting caught in lies and exaggerations that fit her ideology, but lack verity.
Pretty much all the candidates running for the Republican nomination in Iowa have trouble not just with truth, but merely being asked what is true about their beliefs and policies, and what is not. Whenever pressed about any subject, these candidates claim it is a “gotcha” question to be held accountable for the truth in their statements.
Full of it
It reminds me of a road trip long ago through some Iowa backroads. We were driving along happily when we turned a corner and drove right into a long, deep river of hog slop washing across the road. The hog shit coated the underside of our car as we rode through 50 yards of slippery shit the color of clay and the stinkiest odor of all time.
That afternoon, when we parked our car at our campsite, every fly in the county descended on our vehicle to hang around the musky undercarriage. The flies were so thick and bothersome we had to move the vehicle far away from our campsite. It stunk like hell and the flies kept buzzing and buzzing in the heat, driving us mad.
That hog slop is symbolic of what’s going on in Iowa right now. Politicians line up to spew shit they know makes no sense, and they don’t care. They hope the next day’s media rain will wash the previous day of hog slop off the road. Yet people enamored of the idea that these political attention hogs (look at Trump demanding his own rules for debates…) have something to say. Iowans seem too willing to wade through this kind of shit without question. All to gain approval and promise of political favors if their chosen candidates are elected? Is that it? Or is there some kind of shit we don’t know about going on behind the scenes?
Of course, the media flies have long since descended on this political slop being thrown around Iowa. It’s a gadfly’s job to hang around listening to this shit and yes, even ask questions so the hog sloppers can spew out even more. The whole affair stinks to high heaven, and everyone knows it. As far as anyone can tell at this point, the whole state of Iowa is full of shit.
County Fair Carnies
Meanwhile the angry, crazy types like Marco Rubio march around this County Fair of a state like carnival barkers convinced their game is the best in the world. “You should sign up and give my game a try!” Ted Cruz snarls at the people passing by on the Iowa Midway. “It’s called Eliminate the Waste, because we all know government is the biggest waste on earth!”
Who are these guys telling us the government is full of crap when they are all desperately running for the office of President? Doesn’t anyone see the least bit of irony in any of this?
It truly makes you wonder why Iowa farmers would ever want to vote Republican. I know so many smart people in Iowa, with good common sense and a down to earth worldview. Where do all these seemingly radical conservatives get off telling Iowans what they need to think about our national affairs.
It turns out there’s something of an explanation. An article from a couple years back in TheWEEK by Keith Wagstaff addresses the reasons why so many farmers vote Republican.
“As the number of people on food stamps jumped to around 47 million after the Great Recession hit, the program’s funding also leaped, increasing to $83 billion this year, from $35 billion in 2007.
Yet the agriculture bill — which will provide $195 billion in crop insurance and commodity support to farmers over the next 10 years — was passed easily by House Republicans, even though some conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation, have criticized it for giving “perverse subsidies to profitable agricultural enterprises.”
Shit conservatives say
There’s some sort of cognitive gap going on there, as even the Heritage Foundation admits. But at the most basic level, it is apparent that farmers across the country feel like they have to vote Republican because the corporate welfare doled out to farmers is some sort of guarantee that farmers will never be the ones to go hungry, or lose the farm.
But we all know that’s a river of shit too. Because when the shit hits the fan during a tough economy, nobody seems to give a shit if small farmers get sold down the river. It’s the same pattern with the middle class in America. Just like the money flows upriver to Wall Street bankers and the 1%, agribusiness keeps coming out on top while your everyday farmers sell their equipment at auction and take a job as an accountant or real estate salesman in town.
Yes, the river of shit flowing from top to bottom in Iowa turns out to be big money for Big Ag. It’s a great big bribe if you look closely enough at the issue.
Streams of money
So it doesn’t really matter what Republicans say when they’re in Iowa. In the end, conservative Iowans apparently believe that kind of shit doesn’t stink. Well, here’s a bit of news. Democrats traditionally support farm bill funding too. That stream of money going to agribusiness has been consistent through both Republican and Democratic-controlled Congress and Senates. So who’s shitting who here?
It’s just that those darned Democrats want to give money to feed the hungry too. And that seems like an awful waste to supposedly independent people out on the plains. All those poor people in the cities want is handouts, anyway. Ain’t that true? The facts point out a little different dynamic than some might expect.
Yes, there’s all kind of shit going on in Iowa right now, most of it coming out of the mouths of politicians who really don’t give a damn about the state except for the fact that people used to the smell of hogs aren’t really that choosy about their Presidential candidates either.
Because nothing else can explain the likes of Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and all those others wallowing around in shitty debates and complaining that the media is the one thing that stinks in this world.
There’s an old country saying, folks. He who smelt it, dealt it.
Now deal with it.