Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2020 guest authors

More than 140 authors contributed to the 313 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published during 2020–a record number for the fourth year in a row. I’m proud to provide a platform for a wide range of progressive views and grateful for the hard work that went into creating these articles and commentaries.

In the 25 years I’ve been writing about politics, no event has ever dominated people’s lives and headspace like the COVID-19 pandemic. The unfolding disaster inspired many of the posts linked below. Authors raised concerns about the response by state leaders, local officials, or corporate managers. They critiqued excessive secrecy, misleading presentations of data on virus spread, and the public’s detachment from the reality of death. They shared the voices of educators whose work was upended and their own stories of personal grief. Dr. Greg Cohen’s view of the pandemic through the eyes of a rural Iowa doctor was not only the most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post of 2020, but the most-viewed in this site’s fourteen-year history.

Naturally, the election year inspired many commentaries endorsing presidential contenders before the Iowa caucuses, or discussing other state or federal campaigns. After November 3, several authors sought to identify what went wrong for Democratic candidates here and how the party can build support, especially in rural areas. The Iowa legislature’s actions (or lack of action) provided more source material.

Other authors felt compelled to write about the systemic racism, persistent inequities, and police violence that inspired a summer of protests, but left some politicians silent.

A few authors reviewed little-known or rarely remembered events in Iowa history.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2021, or if you have wildflower photos or memories to share about an Iowa political figure. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves.

Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

For the third year in a row, Ira Lacher (who writes under the handle “BronxinIowa”) was the most prolific Bleeding Heartland guest author. His 33 posts from 2020, in chronological order:

An alternative to the tPhone

Iowa niceties

Requiem for the Constitution

An ending — and a betrayal

Testing, testing

Pete’s “gay problem” that isn’t

Oy, the debate

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad way to pick a nominee

The unchanging red light

What better time?

News you cannot, should not use

Should it stay or should it go?

Needed: National Health Corps

Warning: Journalists doing deference

The divide that’s conquered . . . us

America’s Eugenics President

The dilemma of reopening

What’s a white person to do?

Props to sports without props


Sister Souljah Redux

Reclaiming what we believe

The virus: Trump’s Fifth Avenue?

On forgiveness

Three days, three words

The COVID fatigue factor

Bumper cars as Tuesday approaches

First impressions

Refuting Superman

Needed: A ceasefire

Lessons we must learn

Caucus postmortem: Don’t blame the DNC

2020: It was so . . . alien

Dan Guild wrote 25 posts:

Four weeks left to the Iowa caucuses: Fasten seat belts

Iowa caucuses: Very close and never more important

With Iowa as unsettled as it has ever been, a critical debate

Democratic presidential primary schedule needs serious evaluation

10 days left: Will someone break out?

Expectations: Yes, they REALLY matter

Another Iowa surprise?

How close was Iowa? Florida 2000 close

The road after Iowa and New Hampshire

Yes, Bernie Sanders can be stopped. But…

Super Tuesday: A reversal of fortune

Denial, economics, and COVID-19

Donald Carter Trump

The ghost of 1980

With four months left, Donald Trump follows in Jimmy Carter’s footsteps

Does a presidential nominee’s choice of running mate matter?

Joe Biden got small bounce but has commanding lead

The wrong message at the wrong time

Trump’s long shadow and Iowa’s pivotal Senate race

Presidential debates: Candidates in search of that magic moment

When it comes to the Senate, all roads lead to Iowa

Donald Trump’s last, best hope?

Youth vote could be decisive in Iowa, other states

Why the Selzer poll may be wrong

A race that ends where it began

Herb Strentz was the author of 24 posts:

Trump valiant in fight against virus — April Fool!

Let’s not return to normal

“We the people” or “We the phonies”?

Truth gets a head start (for a change)

Two takes on Trump and the religious right: A farce or fright?

The crazy quilt of COVID-19

Perhaps Justice should rear its head, too

1642: “Walls do not a prison make.” 2020: Neither do they make a church

An Iowa angle on Trump’s clash with military leaders

No end to the bizarre antics–and the irony–of Donald Trump

July 4th provides a route to November 3rd

Being objective about “objectivity”

A study in contrasts: Donald Trump and communities

We deserve a break today. Two folks well worth “hooray”!

The Joni Ernst/Chuck Grassley combo in Iowa’s U.S. Senate races

Politicians rearrange deck chairs as the S.S. Iowa hits COVID-19

There will be no presidential libraries for Obama, Trump

Hoover Library and Museum–Nothing to be depressed about

Trump food program letter: Treat or trick?

For those who deplore hatred, an alternative to hating Trump

Iowa’s unstrung quartet — Chuck, Joni, Kim, and Terry

Norman Vincent Peale talked the talk. Dietrich Bonhoeffer walked the walk

Aides don’t say Trump is above the law. They say he is the law

Perspectives on our election, our future

Bruce Lear wrote 20 posts during 2020:

No crystal ball needed to predict Iowa legislative moves

Binge-watching West Wing and why I support Joe Biden

Lessons from a fight

Iowa needs level playing field for collective bargaining

Easter story, pandemic story share common themes

Dumb stuff during a pandemic

Celebrating teachers through actions

Return to Learn: Voices from the classroom

Denial is not a strategy for opening Iowa schools

It’s time for Iowa schools to step up

Iowa governor ignores health experts

An open letter to Governor Kim Reynolds

It’s time for the education and medical communities to unite

Musical chairs and other bad ideas during a pandemic

When pretending isn’t fun

An unfortunate October surprise

Voices from the classroom

Messaging matters in political campaigns

An open letter to Iowa school boards

It’s time for some soul searching

Two authors wrote or contributed to seven posts each. In alphabetical order, they are Tyler Granger:

Inaction on climate change in 2019 will be costly for Iowans

The looming environmental catastrophe

After the Fourth of July

Cindy Axne overtakes Chuck Grassley as Iowa’s renewable energy champion

Joni Ernst has failed Iowans on trade

Chuck Grassley sees electric vehicles as threat, not opportunity

Iowa’s looming water and drought crisis

Emma Schmit:

Iowa deserves to be more than just a feedlot between two rivers

Iowa lawmakers chose corporate agriculture and factory farms again (with Ava Auen-Ryan)

Ignoring Iowa’s factory farm crisis is a big mistake

Iowans lose out to industrial ag in 2020 legislative session

Senator Rozenboom’s conflict of interest on Ag Gag couldn’t be clearer (with Adam Mason)

Iowa’s water can’t wait (with Danielle Wirth)

Don’t give up on rural Iowa

Four authors contributed five posts to Bleeding Heartland during 2020. By Richard Lindgren:

The misleading math of rural coronavirus

Living Shirley Jackson’s story ‘The Lottery’ in real time

When Chuck Grassley was “pwned” by the televangelists

Donald Trump’s tax problems revisited

Chasing Benford’s Law down an election rabbit hole

Susan Nelson:

Homemade anti-virus hardware: Make your own face shield

Admiral Mike Franken: A candidate for an extraordinary time

Dark money stains the Senate primary

A clear choice: Todd Prichard over Craig Clark in Iowa House district 52

The art of showing up: J.D. Scholten in Iowa’s fourth district

Dan Piller:

Donald Trump’s oil pandemic

Down on the farm with Trump

Thoughts on a post-Trump agenda for Democrats

When Iowa farmers took to the streets–and got results

Donald Trump’s farmers: A diminishing political asset

Randy Richardson:

Iowa needs one insurance plan for all public employees

Who’ll stop the rain

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and coronavirus

Iowa governor’s proclamation creates confusion for schools

The madness of Queen Kim

Five authors wrote four posts each. Charles Bruner:

Refaming racism

Child poverty and the country’s future

As ambitious as the New Deal: Biden’s plan for caregivers, educators

Relational campaigning and our roles as influencers

Matt Chapman:

Why I will caucus for Elizabeth Warren

Iowa House, Senate have dueling bills on public assistance

Republican bill to protect housing discrimination part of a pattern

Highlights, dog whistles from an Iowa Senate debate

Paul W. Johnson:

Bombs to balms

This Old House

Make Iowa great again: Yes, we can

Iowa agriculture, climate change, and “SWAPA”

Tanya Keith:

Don’t make Iowa families suffer through a constitutional amendment on abortion

All I wanted was to scream at a billionaire

A dangerous time in Iowa

Iowa is running out of time to avoid the pain I’m living

James Larew:

April 2, 2020. Guam.

Chet Culver challenges Kim Reynolds’ COVID-19 workplace rules

Chet Culver to Kim Reynolds: Have Test Iowa contract independently audited

Letter from disappointed Iowa Democrats to Senator Chuck Schumer

Six authors wrote three posts. Brett W. Copeland:

Randy Feenstra is at the center of Iowa’s failed policies (with Mitch Day and Laura Hoffman)

Change in the Iowa Democratic Party must start at the top

Trust, confidence, and progress

Glenn Hurst:

COVID-19 crisis unmasks health care system’s failures

Iowa Democratic Party vs Democratic voters: Can the shepherd find the sheep?

The long game: Where does winning in rural Iowa begin?

Julie Ann Neely:

Yearning to return to the 1950s? You may get your wish

Rural hospitals: Our canary in a coal mine

We can run. We can try to hide. But there is no Planet B

Carl Olsen:

Why I’m asking Iowa to seek an exemption from federal drug laws

State seeking federal exemption for Iowa’s medical cannabis program

Feds deny exemption for Iowa’s medical cannabis program

C.J. Petersen:

Why I hope you’ll vote by mail in the Democratic primary

Remembering Stonewall in western Iowa

We live here, too: Dirt road Democrats in the arena

Marty Ryan:

Lies, lies, and damned lies

Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Trumped-up executions

Nineteen authors wrote two posts each. John Aspray:

Governor Reynolds is missing in action on water access

Big Ag’s “Too big to fail” fails us all

“Bill from White Plains”:

Regarding the fate of the Iowa caucuses, the real point has been missed

An open letter to Iowa GOP lawmakers and Governor Reynolds

Katie Byerly:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Rough blazing star

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Purple rattlesnake-root (Glaucous white lettuce)

Jim Chrisinger:

Do Republicans even know what socialism is?

Asymmetry: When one side cheats

Randy Evans:

COVID-19 crisis underscores how vital information is

State Fair meeting was affront to open government

Amber Gustafson:

One suburban caucus chair’s experience and what it means for Iowa

Theresa Greenfield respects all Iowans

Shawn Harmsen:

Out of good group, Warren is my pick

A State Central Committee member’s thoughts on Troy Price resigning

Laura Hubka:

One Iowa Democratic county chair’s view: The work, worksheets, and disaster

I’ll fight on that hill

Andy Johnson:

Girls can wrestle, and a woman will win

OMG the sky is falling, says MSNBC

Emilene Leone:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A lawn-to-native plant garden conversion

How to make your own pallet flag yard sign

John Norwood:

Comments on the governor’s Invest in Iowa Act

We need a two-pronged COVID-19 strategy

Dave O’Connor:

Science and the governor’s Return to Learn proclamation

An open letter to the Des Moines School Board

Preethi Reddi:

Rural Iowa schools must proactively promote racial equity

Here’s why Iowa’s COVID-19 approach needs to change

Katie Rock:

Keep the lights on for our kids

Iowans deserve a plan from MidAmerican to phase out coal

J.D. Scholten:

Rural America needs reinforcements to fight COVID-19

Where Iowa Democrats go from here: Thoughts for the next party chair

Ras Smith:

Essential doesn’t mean expendable

A call for responsibility, accountability, and compassion in the new year

Patrick Swanson:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A DIY bee house using native prairie plants

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Downy yellow painted cup

Stacey Walker:

The true cost of incrementalism: defeat

Where are the freedom fighters? A plea for help from a beleaguered Black man

John Whiston:

Deaths of despair in Clinton, Oelwein, and elsewhere

Populisms Left and Right

Another 101 posts were by writers who contributed once to this site during the year.

Anonymous legislative staffer:

An open letter to Speaker Grassley and Majority Leader Whitver

Angelisa Belden:

When is it safe to get in the water?

Aaron Belkin:

Path to Iowa caucus victory hidden in plain sight

Nancy Bobo:

Why I support Mike Franken for U.S. Senate

Ruby Bodeker:

A rural strategy we can work with

Bill Brauch:

Eight lessons of election week 2020 in Iowa

Norman Brewer:

Book excerpt: Killer Politics

Erika Brighi:

My awakening moment in the fight for justice

Rachel Bruns:

Maternal health in Iowa: You don’t know what you don’t know

Bridget Carberry Montgomery:

Bill would allow more guns in Iowa’s local government buildings, parks

Jeffrey Cárdenas:

Educating Rhonda: Law enforcement challenges

Leslie Carpenter:

What would Jesus do about Iowa’s broken mental health system?

Daniel Clark:

The T in LGBTQ has never been silent…and neither should we

Greg Cohen:

The COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of a rural Iowa doctor (most-viewed post in Bleeding Heartland history)

Edward Cohn:

Why I support Elizabeth Warren

Lora Conrad:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Pawpaw

Chad Cooper:

Mediocrity won’t motivate

Sydney Devine:

Nate Boulton and the party that promoted him

Bruce Dickerson:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A walk around my pasture

Eric Donat:

The Disability Caucus: Fighting for inclusion

Don Doumakes:

Against bipartisanship


How Polk County’s COVID-19 map skews perception of virus spread

Leslie Dow:

COVID-19 and 9/11

Jeremy Dumkrieger:

The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Sue Dvorsky:

Theresa Greenfield is our choice to defeat Joni Ernst

Jim Eliason:

My stump speech

Khadidja Elkeurti:

Christina Blackcloud would fight for the underrepresented in IA-01

Casey Erixon:

How prison abolition could save rural America

“Fake Adam”:

A queer perspective on Iowa’s U.S. Senate primary

TJ Foley:

What I learned talking to a Trump supporter for five minutes

Jerry Foxhoven:

I am pro-life. That’s why I’m a Democrat

Caleb Gates:

Why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump

Eric Giddens:

Reflection on the 2020 legislative session

Athena Gilbraith:

Keep Iowa first

Colin Gordon:

What should Iowa’s recovery look like?

Joe Gorton:

Flawed assumptions, missing elements in Kim Reynolds’ COVID-19 plan

Jon Green:

Iowa Senate Democrats’ wrongheaded thinking

David Grussing:

Thoughts on removal of Confederate monuments

Neil Hamilton:

The “death tax” is hogwash

Tamyra Harrison:

Why should Iowans care about D.C. statehood? The truth is, we always haved

Joe Henry:

Des Moines hiring practices don’t reflect community’s diversity

Mitch Henry:

Joe Biden, Theresa Greenfield best to confront challenges facing Iowa

Bill Jackson:

Why this Republican will caucus for Pete Buttigieg

Mike Jacobsen:

From the chair: Reflections on the 2020 Iowa caucuses

Rob Johnson, Al Womble, and Eddie Mauro:

No Justice No Peace: Elections, actions, and activism

Skip Kaltenheuser:

Why Bernie, Iowans? Banks!

Mary Krieg and Janet Metcalf:

Broadlawns board endorsement: Bill Taber and Kavi Chawla

Yoni Libbie:

Governor Reynolds, learn their names

Beth Lynch:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Iowa golden saxifrage

Erin Madsen:

To prevent Trump’s 2nd (and 3rd, and 4th) term, Democrats need Elizabeth Warren

Nick Mahlstadt:

Response to Senator Julian Garrett’s racist dog whistle

Elizabeth Marilla:

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A tour of spring flowers in southeast Iowa

Mike McCarthy:

Iowa Republicans fail to uphold promises of Older Americans Act

Brian McLain:

The Progressive Caucus: In solidarity we rise

Tyler Mills:

Kevin Warth offers unique perspective for Iowa Senate district 44

Morgan Kent Molden:

Suburban insight: Karin Derry over Eddie Andrews in House district 39

Nate Monson:

Transforming Trauma: Meeting the challenges facing youth

John Morrissey:

Iowa State Fairgrounds closed; Polk County rents dorm for COVID-19 recovery

Jon Muller:

How delaying property tax enforcement affects Iowa taxpayers, local government

John Murphy:

Let’s change the perspective

Keith Nichols:

Don’t count on a “blue wave” to deliver

Jackie Norris:

America needs Joe Biden

Jo Oldson:

Kim Reynolds’ pandemic secrets erode public trust (among 20 most-viewed posts of 2020)

Clay Pasqual:

Trust medical experts on COVID-19

Kyla Paterson:

I’m endorsing Elizabeth Warren for trans rights

Kay Pence:

Joni Ernst turned her back on Iowans

Elisa Hernández Pérez:

Kimberly Graham knows universal health care is our only choice

Janet Petersen:

Iowans deserve more transparency to help stop COVID-19

Susie Petra:

I am grateful to you, Senator Sanders

Raihan Rashidi:

Momentum builds for 100% DSM clean energy initiative

Amanda Rex-Johnson:

Why I am supporting Elizabeth Warren

Joan Rohlfing:

In Iowa and beyond, voters must demand answers on nuclear weapons policy

Scott Roland:

Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Connie Ryan:

Advocate to Iowa House: “Constitution should never be used to do harm”

Anne Schechinger:

Largest farms received most trade bailout, COVID-19 payments

Sami Scheetz:

Bernie Sanders’ success in Iowa shows Democratic Party must adapt

Michael Schmidt:

Alliant takes step forward on road to clean energy

Shawn Sebastian:

Failed politicians have turned Iowa into one of Earth’s most dangerous places

Midge Slater:

Senator Joni Ernst’s stealth attack on our Social Security

Art Small:

Athena would make the best president. But our times call for Ares

Bryce Smith:

The moral leader America needs

Rocky Sposato and Marc Ward:

Broadlawns board endorsement: Emily Webb and Dave Miglin

Heather Strachan:

Iowa needs Warren’s big structural change for mental health

“Strong Island Hawk”:

The perils of outside money

Todd Struthers:

Lessons learned from our giving table

Rod Sullivan:

Ten things Iowa Democrats should do

Greg Thielmann:

How will the Democratic candidates reduce the risk of nuclear war?

Jake Tornholm:

Elizabeth Warren: Best person for the job and the woman we need as president

Jeff Walberg:
To see the racism of Kenosha, look beyond the videos

Amy L. Ward:

Grief in the time of COVID

David Weaver:

Defeating Joni Ernst in November

Mary Weaver:

Trump’s takeover of Voice of America

John Webb:

It needs to be said: Abolish the caucus

Janice Weiner:

A decision made with head and heart for Amy Klobuchar

Jackie Wellman:

Why I support Amy Klobuchar

Tim Whipple:

Iowa’s municipal utilities already suspended water shutoffs

Aime Wichtendahl:

Why I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren for president

Kieran Williams:

Václav Havel’s “Letters to Olga” as a COVID-19 companion

Ann Wilson:

I know both candidates in House district 16. Jen Pellant is the correct choice

Tom Witosky:

Baseball scandal shows how low we go

Sarah Zdenek:

Governor Kim Reynolds chooses politics over public health

Tags: Blogging

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin

  • All I can say is WOW!

    Thank you Laura for celebrating the cooperative effort of BH contributors. It is amazing the number of people who have poured their heart and soul into these thoughtful posts.

    And finally, thank you Laura for hosting BH where you provide a great forum for all to get a better understanding of what is happening in our state.