John Nichols Calls on Iowans to Continue to Lead

Last weekend I attended the Iowa CCI convention where John Nichols was the keynote speaker. Nichols gave a great speech that made all of the Iowans in attendance proud.

His theme was that citizenship requires action, that it is more than just voting a couple times each year. It is Iowan's responsibility to pursue progressive goals that move the nation forward because Iowans has always been on the frontline of progressive change in the country.

Nichols outlined how Iowa has been leading the nation on the big issues ever since it became a state in 1846 and declared that it was not going to be a slave state. Wisconsin and Minnesota followed suit and this was the beginning of the end of slavery.

He then told the story of Smith Wildman Brookhart (Yes, Wildman was really his middle name.), who ran ran for the United States Senate in 1922 as a Republican with a populist message, saying…

Wall St. is a greater threat to America than any foreign enemy.

Brookhart won a close election and was seated in the Senate until he pissed off party leaders and the election was overturned. He is the only person ever to have the election results overturned after already being seated as a US Senator. Broookhart didn't give up though. He ran in 1926 against longtime Senator Albert B. Cummins, who was the chair of the Judiciary committee. Brookhart went on to beat Cummins in the Republican primary and went on to win in the general election.

Nichols then talked about Henry Wallace and I shot this video of him talking about Henry Wallace. I used my cell phone to take the video, so the quality isn't the best, but here it is anyway.

Nichols quoted George McGovern, who had this to say about Henry Wallace…

The only thing Henry Wallace did wrong was believe that America could be as good as Americans were.

Nichols then told how Harold Hughes spoke to end the war in Vietnam and against the strong-armed tatics being used by the Chicago police.

That led up to the 2008 Iowa caucuses. Nichols said that Iowans did what only Iowans can do. We asked the tough questions at the small town cafes and in the end, showed the rest of the nation Barack Obama could win.

Nichols stressed that our duties don't stop there. We must continue to push ahead on the issues of clean elections, local control of hog confinements, clean water, and worker's rights. If Iowans do that then the rest of the country will follow.

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