Governor, GOP legislature sound death knell for "Iowa nice"

Herb Strentz: Iowa is now governed by a disgraceful Trump cult, masquerading as the once respected Republican Party.

The phrase “Iowa nice” used to be an annoyance to some of us, when used to express the idea that Iowans are nicer than other people. Those of us who have lived in other states, or have family and friends elsewhere, know Iowa has no monopoly on nice people.

But now, instead of being annoyed, there is good reason to mourn the loss of “Iowa nice,” thanks to Governor Kim Reynolds and the Republican-controlled state legislature.

A friend, retired Drake philosophy professor Jon Torgerson, pointed out that the “Iowa nice” label was more inclusive than merely having good neighbors. The phrase recognized our public and private institutions and the people who led them.

“Iowa nice” even included elected officials. We had our own version of the mythical Kennedy Camelot, with a real life, caring Camelot under Bob Ray and a bipartisan legislature.

Unfortunately, Iowa is now governed by a disgraceful cult, masquerading as the once respected Republican Party.

TIME magazine's Washington correspondent Philip Elliott reinforced this view of the Iowa GOP in his commentary for the latest issue. Taking stock of Governor Reynolds’ selection to deliver the rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, Elliott sees Reynolds as "an acolyte of Trump’s reboot of the GOP” and as “Sarah Palin 2.0, a conservative avatar" who revels in the "culture wars" and believes "the norms of polite politics are meant to be shredded."

Elliott argues that "In picking Reynolds, the Republican Party seems to affirm that Trumpian politics are durable and remain the de facto position of the base."

A harsh but appropriate analogy comes to mind: what was called the “Peoples Temple,” founded by Jim Jones in Indianapolis in 1955 and moved to San Francisco during the 1970s. More than 900 Temple members took their own lives in “Jonestown,” Guyana by gulping down cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in obedience to Jones in 1978.

Too many Republicans figuratively gulp down former President Donald Trump's “Kool-Aid.”

Trump's cult doesn't overtly encourage followers to kill themselves, but pushes misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines developed to combat it, which has led to many thousands of preventable deaths.

GOP elected officials have used the former president's lies and outrageous statements to justify laws that suppress votes and undermine democracy. That is the Trump cult's answer to the first Republican president’s passionate hope “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

With the Trump cult, the lies, ironies and hypocrisy never end. Recall the nickname of that first Republican president, “Honest Abe.” (Trump once boasted that Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch called Trump the greatest president ever, better than even Lincoln. Hatch’s office promptly issued a denial.)

And recall that a tally of the Trump cult leader showed he told some 30,000 lies while in office.

Reynolds bragged in her State of the Union response that in Iowa, "We take care of each other, and yes, we are as they say, Iowa nice." But here in Iowa, the governor’s and the legislature’s list of nice people apparently does not include public school teachers. According to Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman (the chamber's second-ranking Republican), teachers are pushing a “sinister agenda” and "wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest." And Republicans passed yet another education spending bill that gives public schools less state aid than they need to keep up with rising costs.

For the legislature and governor, only straight white conservatives seem to deserve the "Iowa nice" treatment. Consider what Laura Belin characterized as “cheerful cruelty”: the new law banning young transgender women from being on athletic teams in Iowa public schools, colleges and universities.

While members of the Trump cult claim keeping transgender students off the playing fields and athletic teams is about "fairness," Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott had a better perspective in her March 7 newsletter:

The reality is, most students just want to play and be part of a team. As an extension of the classroom, sports provide educational and social opportunities that are crucial to the health and wellbeing of children. This is something that transgender kids need just as much as any child.

But such children are now outside the pale of “Iowa nice” as are their school teachers.

In the way of hopes to cling to, there are questions as to whether the transgender ban is constitutional. And following legislative redistricting, Democrat Trone Garriott and Chapman are November re-election opponents in the new Senate District 14.

Of course, some Republican legislators may object to being called members of a Trump cult.

If so, their renunciation of Trump and much of the legislation passed and pending in Iowa would he refreshing. It would be in accord with an observation attributed to many, including the Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke, 1729-1797: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

While too many good people do nothing, the Trump cult continues its devastation in Iowa.

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

Top photos of Donald Trump and Jim Jones available on Wikimedia Commons.

  • Trump cult?

    So anyone who isn't in lockstep with your beliefs deserves to be called a cult? I understand that this blog is Liberal but maybe, just maybe you should try talking to one of us Trump supporters. We have very good reasons for what we believe. As far as Covid, Trump has not come against the vaccines and many, many of his followers are mad at him for that. Their anger is not Jim Jones-esque.

    The folks who follow Trump realize that the whole system is broken. Greed and corruption has overtaken all the highest levels of society. Please do not judge us by the Republicans in office though we will take responsibility for them once more people awaken.

    Generally, the people who stand behind Trump stand with the Creator of this world and His Word. The values we have were not by our own decision or feeling, they are from Him. His directives are for us too to align with, not to change.

    • Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

      Janna, You say, “Generally, the people who stand behind Trump stand with the Creator of this world and His Word. The values we have were not by our own decision or feeling, they are from Him. His directives are for us too to align with, not to change.”

      For your consideration: A syllogistic fallacy happens when you make two general statements to validate a conclusion. 1) Some people who stand behind Trump are fundamentalist. 2) Fundamentalist believe non-negotiable values come from their Creator. 3) Therefore, Trump supporters are not a cult.

      How far behind Trump must one stand to avoid the stench of his hedonism? Why would a creationist stand with/behind Trump?. I would think a better way to put you faulty syllogism, would be to say the circle of people you know are all fundamentalists who also (incidentally) support Trump. Which says nothing about the attributes of Trump that merit that support.

      The author of a widely praised Wordslut, Amanda Montell (2021) analyzes the social science of cult influence and how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power. Please read the book “Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism.” Then get back to us.

  • on talking to Trump supporters

    Jenna: "Please do not judge us by the Republicans in office. . "

    His Word: ". . . by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:20

    I might even cite the whole passage: "15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them."

  • Completely Wrong and Inaccurate view of Iowan Republicans

    I live in a pretty Republican area along the river in Western Iowa, and I do not know any Republican people that have these views! I reposted this post last night to Facebook because I knew I would get some people worked up over it apparently as much as you want, but in the other point of view. I think the typical GOP Republican Iowan is very upset anyone would say that. Most people instantly would say that this is propaganda created by the opposing party! I have a different understanding of it. It has been said that over time what was Democratic is now Republican and visa versa. Even you stated this with the reference to Kennedy. What made Kennedy a decent president? If Kennedy was running today, many of his views and actions would be considered far right wing. Times have changed. Kennedy was much more radical for his time then Gov. Reynolds is for Iowa. Robert Ray was a governor of a different time period. The issues at hand if Iowa then are no where near the the issues at hand today. Education remains the same and is something no one has fixed for 100 years. But, people are much more sensitive to issues now that didn't exist in Robert Ray's time period, or were ignored during that time.
    I don't feel like most Republicans necessarily wanted Donald Trump as president. My father voted for Ted Cruz. I voted for Donald Trump because he was for tariffs on Chinese imports. To me that topic trumps any other topic for our economy and national security. He did what he said he was going to do, and he was the most vocal president in the history of our country. It is sad he was not born with an interior monologue, and this was outright embarrassing at times. But he did win the majority vote of Iowa at 53% for re-election in 2020 and in the majority of the state that is rural, he had almost 80% of the vote. That really says something for a state that historically been mostly blue. The other reason I voted for Trump is because I did not want to see Hillary Clinton as President of the United States. If the Democrats could ever produce a decent candidate that doesn't have a shitty political history and a publicly known, out-in-the-open long term hidden agenda, then I would consider voting for them. But they can't seem to do that. GOP isn't much better. When you end up with Donald Trump as your candidate, that says a lot for the others running against him! The problem with positions like that is that the really good people that need to be in those positions are too smart to give up there lives. If you run for President now, you have to be rich or have an agenda backed by the entire party. No one else will ever make it ever again. It is really sad.
    I too agree Iowa nice is slowly going by the wayside. Our culture is changing. Less people go to church and social events. People don't even talk to each other on the phone anymore. If you are walking down the highway from a broken down vehicle, people drive on by because they expect you to have a cell phone. This isn't just Iowa, this is the entire country of change. Everyone has different representatives, but my particular state representative is the nicest person I have ever met, so at least some of the representatives are still "Iowa" nice.
    As for Gov. Reynolds, I am still concerned over the funding of education, but I think she has done one hell of a job representing out state. There is a reason why the people of Iowa re-elected Terry Branstad and elected him many times. He brought Kim Reynolds to us. And she was re-elected! The people spoke! Clearly the majority of Iowa thinks she is doing alright. I thought she made good sound judgements through Covid based on actual science and common sense and not "political" science. I thought her speech about the state of the union was right on par and I was very proud that Iowa's governor was selected to present that speech.
    Your comparison of Trump to Jim Jones is interesting and has no basis. The only thing I can tell you, is if someone hands you Kool-aid, don't drink it, lol. I haven't been overly thrilled on the Covid narrative in general. I work in the micro-biology industry, and the way things went initially seemed to be on the right track. We didn't know what exactly we had, we just knew it was bad. Fauci day one said masks will not help, and I was very upset the day his narrative changed. But what masks do is they calm the masses of people. If we had nothing to belief in, people would have panicked. Real science knows the truth, but politized science leads you astray. Remember all science is based on theory. Facts are theories that cannot be disproven by current means of knowledge. When the WHO rep didn't follow the political narrative to keep people calm, he was removed (or quit) and he was no longer speaking in mass to the people. Sad that your government cannot tell you the truth, but sometimes the truth is dangerous and can lead to instability. I personally believe the Covid epidemic was handled about as good as anyone would have handled it based on all the know facts at certain stages through time. The only difference I notice between Trump's reign and Biden's reign was that Biden's actions were trailing behind the knowledge released to the public and eventually people didn't understand why their government was recommending things that countered things we learned. Not sure why this happened, but it has increased the division of the country politically and has made people feel that Biden is completely incompetent. I am not ready to admit that yet, but they need to stay ahead of the game. Abraham Lincoln was a relative of mine. I would not hold him to the best president ever. He was president during an extremely difficult time in our country but his actions overall may not have been the best for all the land. Slavery aside, there were other issues ongoing that clearly half the country didn't agree with. Taxes on southern crops had gone up 3x the amount and the rural areas of the south felt like they were paying for the northern urban bullshit. This isn't far from the views of rural America today. If the OSHA mandate would have not been stopped by by the Supreme Court, I think that would have sparked the path towards a modern civil war. I am very pleased that things have quelled. Although I don't think Abraham Lincoln was the best president for the country, I still respect him, and clearly he was the best candidate that ran!
    Every politician lies. Every person lies. Like I said, the truth would scare the people and in most cases it is not that they can't tell you the truth, its that the truth ought not be told, at least at that point in time. If anyone tells you they have never told a lie, they are lying! I would like you to list those 30,000 lies you speak of, and you will find that most of them are generated fictitious propaganda put out by opponents who do not align politically. It is easy to say that someone is lying but it is very hard to know when someone is telling the truth.
    As for your transgender topic, I usually try to avoid saying much. I personally believe that an American citizen should have every right to pursue their own happiness and dreams and live their life to the fullest as long as it does not interfere with the lives and dreams of others around them. This is hard to achieve and balance for every situation, but the majority should not have to yield for the the minority. Plain and simple. If one child is missing an eye, the rest of team should not have to play with one eye closed. I would respect them for doing so, but it shouldn't be force upon everyone. There is no end to the differences between human beings, but as long as men's and women's sports are views separately in America, there exists one issue. Boys and girls genetically grow at different rates and sizes, so there may be many factors that need to apply to where the children are placed. Matching of teams should depend more on the physical abilities of the child no matter their size, ethnicity, or gender. We need to do away with boys soccer and girl's soccer and either have one team based on the qualified best, or have multiple teams at different levels that gives every child a fighting chance. There should never be a situation where anyone completely overpowers the majority of the peers to a certain point. I think to keep a fair chance in all sports, you need at least 3 tiers and if you reach a certain threshold, you move up in tiers. If you don't then you stay with the current matched group of players. It is a different way of thinking and nowhere near traditional sports, but its the only way to provide equal opportunity and fairness. It is very easy to criticize but constructive criticism is important and you need to have a solution if you present a problem. If you do not have a solution, then there is no problem.

    • I’m given to lengthy rants, but you take the cake, Wally🙃

      My father voted for Ted Cruz. Why?

      I voted for Donald Trump because he was for tariffs on Chinese imports.

      If this is your priority consideration, develop it so readers know what the zip you’re talking about.

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