If you don’t vote, don’t complain

I have mixed emotions when it comes to voting. For years in the ’90s I avoided the lines at the polling place, justifying it with the excuse that I was too busy.  My candidate never won anyway, so what did it matter? This went on for several years, until my kids got old enough to ask who I voted for in a particular year (Come to think of it, I think it was the year George H. Bush was elected).

Iowa Flag

I started bad-mouthing the people’s choice and when my oldest asked who I voted for, I had to tell her that I didn’t vote. She muttered something and walked away, her 17-year old attitude showing through.

“What did you say?” I asked loudly, causing her to wheel around and repeat her statement.

“If you didn’t vote then don’t complain.”

I laughed, I think more out of shock than anything. “Yeah, well….” I started to say, but I had nothing more to say. She was right. I had no right to complain. I had been dodging my obligation by not voting and it was time to take responsibility.

Politics are confusing and though I took government in high school, it is still a struggle to understand them. I hate the ads and the way the candidates treat each other. But I know that’s just the way it is. As one colleague pointed out, “That’s the way they’ve always done it.”

I’m having a hard time knowing who to vote for this year. I am an independent and vote for the person I believe will do the best job. But because of the nasty TV ads it’s hard to know who’s being honest. Like so many others, I have to wonder why we would want people like that in office anyway. But once again, that’s just the way it is.

The Senate race is really the one to watch in Iowa this year. Whatever party wins will dominate the Senate. Both parties are slinging mud, so who do we believe?

Did Republican Joni Ernst really say that Iowa’s minimum wage doesn’t need to be raised? Is her campaign being funded by the infamous Koch brothers? Is Democrat Bruce Braley really against veterans? Is he really shirking his duties by not showing up for work when he is supposed to?

The questions go on and on. But one thing that has helped is Factcheck.org. This site shuffles through the misleading ads to find the truth to the many accusations.

Voting has always been a right and a privilege here in the United States, but many people don’t see it that way. I still hear, “It doesn’t matter anyway,” or, “They all do what they want; they never listen to what we want.”

But that’s why voting is so important. If we don’t vote for who we believe to be the right choice, how can we have ANY say in the matter? At least we can say we tried.






Iowans are just different people

There was a time in my life when I would have given anything to live somewhere other than Iowa, but now I’m glad I stayed.i love cr

I’ve lived other places, including Colorado and Tennessee, and still enjoy visiting other places in the US, but I’m glad I can come home. This is I belong.

I grew up in Cedar Rapids, which is the second-largest city in Iowa. (The largest is Des Moines, the capital). The 2010 Census counted almost 130,000 people living in Cedar Rapids, but I’m sure that has changed a little since the census was taken. The little towns next to CR, Marion (to the east) and Hiawatha (to the north), have grown quite a bit in the past 10 years, as has North Liberty (which is to the south). Come to think of it, they aren’t so little anymore.

I guess what made me so sentimental about my state was a post I saw on Facebook. Iowa native, Ashton Kutcher, an actor currently on the comedy show, Two and a Half Men, said in a video interview a few years ago that “Iowa’s greatest natural resource isn’t corn, it’s the people.”. He said he thinks that Iowans are the kind who, when something bad happens, don’t look for handouts. They pull up their bootstraps and get things done.

I’m sure it wasn’t just a public service announcement; Ashton really believes that about the people of Iowa. We’re different from most people, different from most states. We’re a proud people, but we know how to get things done. We are all about family, but we genuinely care about our neighbors, too.

We know one of the secrets to living a good life is working together to make it happen (whatever IT is). And no matter where we go or what we do, we will always have that.

I feel sorry for the people who have lived their whole lives in a big city. Do you think they have ever been on a hayrack ride? Or gone fishing in a “crick?” Do you think they get excited with the top two college teams meet every year?  Iowans have practically made the annual Iowa vs Iowa State Game Day a holiday!

We get made fun of a lot, but we usually laugh with them. (Another great thing about Iowans; our sense of humor!) We know we aren’t as glamorous as New York or L.A. But most of us wouldn’t want to be. We love Iowa just the way it is.

It’s like having to choose between coming home to a big, cold mansion, or a comfy cottage with a soft couch and a fire roaring in the fireplace.

If those are my options, I’ll take the comfy cottage any day.