When my neighbor told me he was worried about how his garden would fare while he was out of town I told him not to worry, I would take care of it. I said it without thinking, because no matter how long I spend in California, I will always be an Iowan. I was lucky to be raised somewhere acts of thoughtfulness and generosity are common. I could list dozens of instances when I didn’t ask for help but it was given to me without asking, and if your roots are in Iowa, my guess is so can you.
But it wasn’t just Iowa generally that taught me what I needed to know, it was northwest Iowa specifically. I grew up on the north side of Sioux City walking to M.G. Clark with a small group of tow-headed kids. I can drive the hilly stretches of C60 and River Road that take you to Cherokee where my father was raised by heart. People in California have no idea where this is. It’s annoying, but northwest Iowans don’t particularly care if someone knows where their hometown is.
I wasn’t taught to speak ill of people in public, but I have to say this, Rep. Steve King has raised the profile of my home region and hometown in ways I couldn’t have predicted. People I love are becoming known for virulent hatred and close-mindedness. Our values for hard work, honest dealing, and a willingness, always, to help our neighbor without being asked, are being replaced with something I don’t recognize. We are losing something important. Call it self-reliance that also embraces compassion, or call it basic Iowa decency. I fear we will soon lose it for a long, long time.
I remember the Farm Depression in the 80s, the drought and the foreclosures. Many years later, with so much fertile land, and so many hard working people, it can feel like northwest Iowa should not be struggling with sinking commodities prices, a stressful trade war, health care that keeps getting more expensive, and roads that have needed repair for far too long. Many voters made a rational choice in 2016 to test a theory that someone from the business world could right a ship that can feel like it is little by little, every year, getting more off course.
But I know you did not vote for this. You did not vote for a trade war that could hurt unestablished farmers, leading to more consolidation of land ownership. No one voted to neglect the roads necessary for every piece of the region’s economy. Northwest Iowa did not vote for two more years of Steve King spending time with extremist European leaders over spending time listening to District 4’s voters.
The people who raised me to care for my neighbors, the people who sent so many cards to my mother while she was being treated for cancer that the mailman brought them wrapped in a thick stack wrapped in a rubber band every day for months, the people who do the hard work, who do the country’s heavy lifting, did not vote for bigotry and violence.
I am writing this letter because J.D. Scholten offers a new road. It’s both a way back to what is remembered, and a way forward. He supports policies that will strengthen rural economies, put new foundations in infrastructure, and create better solutions for health care and education. I hope you’ll vote for him on November 6th.
Rev. Elizabeth E. Blair
Santa Rosa, CA