Progressives are Gathering Across Iowa
by Paul Deaton “It’s how we share information and live our lives. Neither the topic of politics nor the corporate media came up once that night.”
A group of locals were sitting around a table in our town last week, talking about the future of Iowa. We discussed the way the school board made investments in people and the teacher layoffs in Des Moines. We talked about the consolidation of public health services, repairing the roads in our subdivision and the foolish way some of the federal stimulus money is being spent. We covered the potential for another flood and the safety of our children. It was another winter night on the cusp of spring and our conversation was similar to many taking place across the state.
It’s who we are as Iowans, gathering together, hoping for a quorum and working on what needs doing in society. Gatherings like these are as old as our democracy and the lifeblood of the progressive movement, even if everyone at the table did not consider themselves to be “progressive.” It’s how we share information and live our lives. Neither the topic of politics nor the corporate media came up once that night.
As the local political world enters its season of conventions, we know they will not be like they were in 2008. Each election cycle has its own dynamics. There was a contested primary during the conventions in 2008, and each delegate seat was filled, all the way to the district convention. It won’t be that way this year as party regulars gather to do business in numbers that seem diminished in comparison.
The thing about our movement is that our strength has never been in the number of party regulars, especially at the county and precinct level where our organization matters most. Our strength is in the gatherings of people in our communities like the one I described. It is not about a single meeting, but of countless meetings through a lifetime that build relationships, respect, animosities and hopefully friendships. We don’t always vote the same way during elections, and certainly, we don’t always agree. However, our relationships are strong and our commitment to our community vital.
There are those who believe they can capture, for their political purposes, the anger we feel about Washington’s delayed passage of health care reform and other priorities. They are mistaken. They make assertions that are unfounded and say things that make us cringe. These tactics may garner some votes this election cycle, but the impact will not endure. Partly because we remember how harsh our lives could be when the conservatives were in power. It is partly because we have invested much of ourselves in making progress as a society. We will persevere and eventually prevail, regardless of the outcome of the 2010 election. It is not about winning an election, it is about our future and we are all in. ~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. He is also a member of Iowa Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Veterans for Peace. E-mail Paul Deaton