Our Poor Intern's Account of a Summer in Iowa
Guess who has a secret? Intern Justin, Justin Charity, he has a secret! Very recently, Justin casually mentioned that he worked in IOWA this summer for [I'm not telling which candidate!]. Not only did he work there, he INTERNED there, as is the employment tendency of Intern Justin. Why didn't he tell us sooner? Well, it's not like we ask for a resume or anything during the intern hiring process. Anyway, Intern Justin would like to share his experiences in Iowa to clear up some common misconceptions about it -- pig sex, corn shits, racist hicks, things like that. Read Intern Justin's manifesto after the jump.
My Summer Vacation in Iowa!
by INTERN JUSTIN
Way to fuck things up, America. This election blows and everyone knows it. Somehow, the Democrats are fielding a woman(?) and a Muslim(!) as their top two contenders, whereas the Republicans get to choose between a war hero (John McCain), an even bigger war hero (Rudy Giuliani), a former governor of Taxachussetts (Dukakis?), and that fat guy from the Subway commercials. The terrorists are winning right now (according to the latest Zogby poll).
And so Iowa, sprawling commonwealth of corn and sorrow that it is, will soon select a candidate from each party to advance to the super-semi-finals of the absurd game show that is our electoral process, just as our Founding Fathers envisioned it. May God have mercy on our souls.
For what it's worth, I spent two months of this past summer in Iowa, interning out in the field. For all of the bitchwork involved in interning on a presidential campaign ("Hi, I'm calling on behalf of..." x 9,000), I really do relish so many of the less robotic conversations that I had with people on their doorsteps and in their homes. It really is funny watching all of these candidates trip over themselves to take typical stances on the stereotypical issues when, in all honesty, people in rural Iowa are essentially as grounded, as engaged, and as engaging as anyone I've met here in DC, if not more so. I remember meeting families out in the middle of nowhere grilling me first and foremost about the genocide in Darfur and the prospects for an American intervention. I met a few organic farmers in the northeastern corner of the state who -- get this -- hate ethanol! (I know!)
In my time there, I met veterans, hippies, homophobes, racists, socialists, botanists, and everything in between. I spent my first night in Iowa at a swanky garden party with Balkan-Jewish folk music and a veritable array of interesting and, shall we say, eccentric characters. As difficult as it may be to fathom, not everyone there is a salt-of-the-earth farmer from some obscure rural backwater. The only people who don't seem to "get it" are the candidates themselves. For them, the only issues that matter are the ones they expect us to care about, and even then we're merely subjected to the most patronizing language imaginable. One of my favorite exchanges from my early encounters on the campaign trail went something like this:
ME: Well, you know, Senator Obama had the judgment and the leadership to oppose the war in Iraq from day one.
DRUNKEN VOTER AT A PARADE: So?
DRUNKEN VOTER AT A PARADE: Yes?
DRUNKEN VOTER AT A PARADE: What?
See that? I was defeated by "drunken voter at a parade," and that guy was right: it's one thing for a campaign to draw meaningful, constructive distinctions in terms of character and ideas, and another thing altogether for a candidate and their campaign to simply parrot the same points over and over again in some apparent attempt at psychological warfare. The war is bad, okay. Corporations are evil, we get it. I think it's pretty safe to assume that one's capacity to speak in platitudes probably has little bearing on their ability to actually solve the problems that they're constantly bemoaning.
Nonetheless, today's shitshow will proceed as planned, if only to provide the legions of campaign staffers that have been stranded in Iowa for the past year with some sense of closure (I sure as hell could use some). Maybe it really is just about electing a leader who is "one of us," even if that collective "we" ain't exactly presidential material (see: Dog the Bounty Hunter, George W. Bush). I mean, John Edwards is the son of a mill worker, and Mike Huckabee has a rock band! Surely these guys can handle our foreign policy? Surely they can save America?