Setting Out to Be a Stranger in a Strange Land
A Chicagoan at heart, a series of events, including falling for a local boy, led me to spending time "Iowa-adjacent," in Moline, Illinois. Moline is on the Mississippi River and part of the Quad Cities region. When I first started coming here in 2015, and when asked, "What's it like?" by friends in Chicago, I highlighted three points that stood out the most.
First, five cities make up the Quad Cities, well at least five, some might even say eight or nine. Apparently, they started as the "Tri-Cities," changed to Quad as the region grew, but "quint" never stuck. Second, split by the Mississippi River, residents move between Illinois and Iowa - sometimes many times a day - crossing the largest river in North America like it's no big deal. Being from Chicago, crossing the Mississippi meant a great adventure ahead, not, "We ran out of peanut better, so I am going to the Super Target." As a result, the little girl in me avoided Iowa to keep a sense of adventure alive. Finally, fall 2015 marked the beginning of primary season for the Iowa caucuses and although I was in Illinois, it's an Iowa media market. This proved to be incredibly painful because I don't travel with my Tivo and for the first time since 2004, I had to watch commercials - and political commercials at that! I started avoiding TV like I avoided Iowa.
Four years later, I still get a kick out of telling "newbies" here are eight towns in the Quad Cities, it's less of a rant than it used to be. I continue to avoid Iowa, but it is more about bridge construction, like the rest of the "locals." And I have convinced my boyfriend that Tivo is a great investment, so I won't be exposed to the commercials for the 23 Democrats traipsing all over Iowa again in the bid for 2020.
I vote in Illinois and I assume that by the time our primary rolls around, my choice for the Democratic candidate will not have much impact. Plus Illinois is an open-primary state, so as an "anybody-but-Trump"-er, I will be pulling a Republican ballot and voting for whoever else is on it.
But this does not stop me from supporting a candidate by volunteering in Iowa. Although I have one or two "favorites," as an "anybody-but" voter, I am not yet convinced he or she is the best candidate to beat Trump in the generals. So, I am going to take advantage of being "Iowa-adjacent" and go to as many town halls, house parties, candidate coffees, etc. within a 2-hour drive and see if I can figure it out.
At the same time, I hope Iowans, with its "first-in-the-nation" pride will be open to a stranger in their midst. But I am looking forward to listening to opinions outside of a Democratically controlled area, like Chicago. Also, I have always been skeptical of our countries primary process, as, much like the electoral college, I think it gives some states undue influence over the process. As a result, I am looking forward to seeing the process up close.
Plans for upcoming events:
I will be looking at specific policy issues (promoting responsible budgets; decreasing costs of health care, housing, child care, and education; and promoting campaign finance as a start) as well as "electability" whatever that means.... If you have a specific question you would like me to ask or something to look out for, post it in the comments below.
Includes professional topics, as well as thoughts about politics. I also keep a blog on Medium that includes these, as well as more personal posts.