I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but now that the caucuses are over, I’m happy as a pig in mud. The national media packed up their rural colloquialisms and skee-daddled back to the coasts.
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
OK, so we don’t really say “y’all” here in Iowa. I just can’t help but think that’s the way the national media views us.
Christopher Ingraham summed it up perfectly in his book, “If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now.” Ingraham, a data reporter for the Washington Post, uprooted his life and moved his family to Red Lake Falls, Minn., population 1,400. (The background on why he moved there is a separate but fascinating story.) Having been part of the coastal media and now part of a rural community, Ingraham has unique insight.
“In your typical rural America story, a newspaper from a large city sends a reporter to a small town for a day. He arrives at a diner or a gas station in the middle of the week, in the middle of a regular workday. The only people there at those times are retirees, because everyone else is at their job or taking care of their kids or otherwise busy doing whatever they do to make the world and their part of it a better place,” Ingraham writes.
He’s exactly right, and we see it at caucus time. The people interviewed at diners over coffee are not usually the working people who are helping keep small communities vibrant. They are the folks who are pining for the good old days, when things were much better.
That’s exactly how the national picture of middle America gets sketched — by big-city media folks who spend very little time in a place they think of as “fly-over country.”
Remember last year, Politico writer Sally Goldenberg tweeted her impressions of Iowa declaring there was “more unbuilt land in one block than NYC has in an entire borough,” and complaining she couldn’t find almond milk?
You have to chuckle. Just the same, here in fly-over country, it will be kind of nice to have things get back to normal.
At the TH, we worked hard to keep up with the parade of candidates who’ve visited, covering at least 50 candidate speeches and a few noteworthy surrogates.
So when members of the national television media availed themselves to us for potential interviews, offering to provide their take on the meaning of the Iowa caucuses, we politely declined. We’ve got a pretty good idea what the caucuses mean, thanks just the same. (Iowa nice!)
While I’m ready for it to be over, I do love the quirky circus that the caucuses create. I’m proud of the way Iowans take seriously their responsibility and turn out for candidates. I wonder how many times candidates commenting on the harsh weather heard in response, “Ha, you think this is bad? You should have been here last year.”
We know the political focus comes but once every four years. And we know, too, that the national media will come back and again marvel at the political influence of the seed-capped farmer, standing on his “unbuilt” land.
While the national pundits and reporters may change, we know how the cycle goes. As we say out here in the sticks, “Ain’t no education in the second kick of the mule.”
As long as Iowa keeps its first-in-the-nation status, we’ll be right here covering the cycle — from the hometown perspective.