If You Don’t Like It, Then You Need to Move, She Said
The story of how we lost an ordinary farmer, elected state senator, to the Grand QAnon Party
Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain. — State of Iowa
Across the pond, through the study window, I see an American Flag at half staff rustling in the wind. It’s been at half staff since November 7, 2020, the day the U. S. declared President Biden victorious in the election. I try not to look at it, but it’s all I can see. I watched as the family — three generations — lower it together.
Upstairs, the view from my bedroom window stretches out into the distance where a screaming red Chinese Flag hangs from a rooftop through the trees.
It’s not just flags. I’m surrounded by signs, too. Stop the Steal, and Let White Republicans Farm are increasingly trendy. Three miles south, a billboard that reads God, Country and Trump 2020 still stands at the entrance ramp headed west on Interstate 80 toward Des Moines, Iowa’s State Capitol.
It once felt safe out here in nowhere, surrounded by thousands of acres of farmland, until patriotism and the strangulating rein of Donald Trump’s Grand QAnon Party took over.
I give Trump credit for bringing out the worst in people. At least there’s one thing he’s good at.
I live on the outskirts of town, close enough to civilization for internet service but far enough to go unnoticed. Four miles west, down a gravel farm access road, is where our state senator lives. She’s in legislative session right now, voting in favor of all sorts of fucked up, whack-a-do bills.
Besides sponsoring an amendment bill to eliminate safe and legal abortion, voting to allow anyone over the age of 21 with a pulse to purchase a firearm, forcing schools to open at 100% capacity with zero COVID-19 mitigation measures in place; it was the public hearing for Senate File 413, what we Iowans refer to as the Voter Suppression Bill, that was the end of the line for me.
Over 1000 Iowans submitted comments opposing the proposed voting laws while less than two dozen submitted comments in favor of it, yet every Senate and House Republican voted to pass it. I hoped she’d speak up for us during the hearing, but she didn’t. Instead, she grabbed hold of the Big Lie as if it were the truth.
In a Trump supporting GQP trifecta controlled government, the people have little say in the matter, obviously. It was fast-tracked in 12 days and signed by Governor Reynolds the day after President Biden signed The John Lewis Voting Act to promote voter access. Meanwhile, in Iowa, we’ve become the first state to restrict it.
I’m not naïve. I know how this works. It’s Rural America. All it takes is an (R) at the end of your name and you’ll win every election.
However, knowing our state senator before her political career started a mere 71 days ago, and regardless of party affiliation, I’d like to believe she meant it when she ran her campaign on the claim of representing the small, generational family farm operations — also known as our neighbors.
It is the most populous demographic in the district, after all. She’s a row crop and cattle farmer who promised us. She gave her word.
I no longer know who this person is. Even worse, now it feels like she’s the enemy. It’s just so awkward.
“She is, or was, a good person,” I said to the Democratic Party Chapter Chair during an impromptu three hour phone discussion over a statement our state senator made during a public legislative meeting, adding, “I don’t know anymore. I’m so confused.”
“I didn’t know of her before she got elected,” the chair responded. “But everyone I’ve talked to who did said the same thing.”
In the time I’ve known her, she’s advocated for and taught agriculture in our schools, was the president of the local farm bureau chapter, an active fundraiser for local charities, a well known and respected, contributing member of the community and a super cool mom.
Regulating uteruses, restricting voting rights and passing bloodshed gun laws were never key points on the campaign trail, but telling her constituents that if they oppose something, they’ll “need to move,” especially when it directly relates to free-for-all firearm laws, is incomprehensible. Many of these families have farmed on the same land for hundreds of years.
As of this writing, I’m embarrassed to say she’s an actual trending #ialegis #hashtag on Twitter because it wasn’t bad enough that she said it aloud, a reporter shared the recording on social media and now it’s all over the place. The damage is irreversible. It’s already done.
I tried reaching out to her. I called and left a voicemail. I emailed her in an attempt to bring her back to planet District 38. You’re an average farmer who was elected to represent average people, but it’s not us who you’re representing. It’s clear you’ve lost your way. I’ll pray for you, I wrote.
“She hasn’t called me back or responded to my email,” I informed the chair.
“I don’t expect she’s going to,” she asserted.
“Neither do I.”