Steve King bad for Iowa

Hello to Jefferson and Greene County.

My name is John Patterson.

I hope some of you folks might remember me from way back in the late ’50s and early ’60s.  

My grandad Pat was a Mason, he managed Turner Hybrid Seed Corn in Grand Junction, and lived his entire adult life in Jefferson. He was chairman of the Greene County zoning board for decades and chair of the county Republican Party during the Eisenhower/Nixon years.

My dad Bill owned and operated The Reminder shopper until rising postal rates made it too expensive. Later, they opened Patterson Clothing, which eventually became Olson’s.

Mom worked for the Bee.

I swam and camped and fished in Spring Lake, sledded Seven Hills and lived all summer long at the municipal pool as a child. Doreen Wilber taught me and my brother Mike how to shoot archery.  Fleet Gore drove us around in his big old cars, and always gave us Beechnut gum.  

I’m a Pink Penitentiary Alum.

One time, I snuck up Mahanay Tower with a couple compadres before construction was finished — what a view! And there’s a lot of other such adolescent mischief I won’t confess to.  

My younger years in Jefferson represent a long and fond memory that I still cherish.

I have lived in a half-dozen states across the years, and now reside in Kansas, but I still call myself “an Iowan” if anyone happens to ask.

And even though we moved to Des Moines and I went to DM Lincoln for high school,  when folks ask where I grew up, I always say, “Jefferson.”

On the merit of all those facts,  I reserve the right to speak to you folks, as an Iowan, even though I no longer call it home.  

I’ve been outside looking in for all these decades, watching carefully as the political winds seemed to tear my home state apart in ways that are still difficult to understand.

Nowadays, I’m a Democrat, and I still share the old-fashioned respect for real tradition that made my grandad such a loyal Republican back then, although I wish he and his fellows had understood what “progress” means, just a little better.

I haven’t always been an outside observer. In 2006, I came back home for a visit, to help Selden Spencer run against Steve Latham in a now-nonexistent congressional district. I haven’t been involved seriously since then, but I have never stopped watching this process unfold into the mean-spirited, hard-hearted split that now plagues my favorite state.

Losing our old congressional district really complicated that division. When Jefferson was subsumed by Steve King’s district, it only added a bigger drag on that real, living progress Iowa Republicans forgot somewhere along the way.

I would probably still be quietly observing, in remote consternation, but Congressman King’s recent retweet of racist trash from a notorious European Nazi jolted me upright once again.

I felt compelled to personally respond to his blatant and ignorant bigotry in the name of Iowa.

And then ICE started tearing infants from their mothers’  arms at our borders, as Steve King and his fellow “noble” Republicans stand by nodding in demented approval.  

Not only are they not stopping it, they are actually defending it.  

I am now quite determined to make some sort of attempt to convince some of you, ANY OF YOU, just how important it is to remove King from his rusty iron throne and replace him with someone younger, smarter and bigger-hearted.  

Someone who believes in the motto on the Statue of Liberty.

From everything I see, J.D. Scholten IS that person.

There has been a long line of good men and women who took up that cause over the years, only to lose to King because they couldn’t crack that angry shell of 21st century prejudice that has metastasized among the Iowa Republican Party that I thought I once respected.  

As I studied the results of the latest Congressional District 4 Democratic primary, I was very encouraged to learn more about J.D.

Not only do we share some common roots, he is taking on this difficult chore in a way I  always recommend to every candidate I ever help.  

J.D.’s hitting the road in a big colorful RV — he’s out on the road or down on the street, walking the neighborhoods and all about town, meeting people personally, shaking hands and networking on a personal level that the venerated Tom Harkin once advised us all was the only reliable route to victory in Iowa.

When I read about J.D., it really gave me hope that there’s a better future for the 4th District of Iowa, one where their congressman isn’t compulsively and arrogantly trashing our multiethnic fellow Americans with crude, ignorant, insensitive and downright distasteful tweets and posts and congressional speeches.

To me, that just isn’t Iowa — I was raised celebrating diversity.

Every year, my mother invited foreign families from Iowa State’s international community to our Jefferson Thanksgiving feast. It was one of the best experiences I recall as a young child, and I have always been thankful for that.

But after King eventually took his seat in Congress, what I saw happen to Iowa politics just didn’t match the dignified history I had learned and was so proud of.

When our Iowa ancestors  fought and died in the Hornets Nest to save the Union and help free our black brothers and sisters from slavery, would they ever have anticipated that a century and a half later, an Iowa congressman would promote antebellum racism on a national scale, in the name of Iowa?

I know it doesn’t matter to the xenophobic bigots out there, but  in the eyes of the rest of our nation,  and  the world,  King has been a joke for so long,  he actually managed to diminish Iowa’s reliable old “literate” label single-handedly.  

That long-standing national respect for Iowa’s exceptional literacy rate was rudely shattered, as intelligent, educated and reasonable people across the nation and around the world recoiled at King’s many hateful and ignorant comments.

And unfortunately they have conflated Iowa and King, deservedly or not.

And now, since Trump’s dubious election has instigated unhinged racial bias and outright bigotry in our political process, Steve King’s negative influence is much more deep and profound.

The international, intellectual derision and disapproval he has brought upon this state has been the result. Anyone who considers that fact trivial contributes directly to Iowa’s population drain.

It is imperative that candidates like J.D. win the day this November and sweep these heartless Trump Republicans from office.

As I watch the roiling chaos of Trump’s immigration policies devastate immigrant families, I can only hope and pray that young, strong and big-hearted Democrats like J.D. will take charge of Congress and turn that windblown ship of state around, and correct its course into the future.

Help bring Iowa into the 21st century with candidates like J.D. Scholten — bright young leaders who celebrate diversity, practice compassion and govern with true dignity.

Anyone who thinks Steve King and his big boss Trump fit those descriptions must be living on a different planet.  

Please, don’t miss this election, folks.

The future of Iowa AND our great nation depends on you.

John Patterson is a former Jefferson resident who lives in Kansas with his wife of 40 years, Paula Jaderborg Patterson. He is a progressive political activist and current affairs journalist, and a retired editor and publisher.

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