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Essay

Clovis, TR, and WWJD

By June 27, 2014 2 Comments
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That’s a political rally right here in Alton, Iowa, circa 1903. That’s Teddy Roosevelt gesturing off the caboose of that train, making a stump speech, I’m sure, to a couple hundred locals. Good old days, right?

I didn’t pay much attention to the primary races this year in Iowa. I’m just not that cranked about politics these days, when any discussion thereof brews up so much hostility you’d think that what’s at the root of all the evil is money, which may well be true.

What I couldn’t miss were these street signs. Any trip around the county made it clear that this Sam Clovis was the huge favorite with the locals.

Now no county in America is as true-blue Republican as this one. Two years ago, our own Steve King, a man capable of ID-ing undocumented workers by the size of their calves, won bigger in this county than anywhere in the state. 

All those Clovis signs meant he had to be, religiously speaking, the chosen, or so it seemed to this Calvinist. That’s why I was flummoxed when a candidate named Joni Ernst got the Republican nod apparently for having grown up castrating hogs. Someone out flanked Sioux County Republicans–on the right? Say it ain’t so.

Apparently, Clovis was the sweetheart of Christian conservatives, of which there are more than a few about. Iowa’s Mr. Christian Conservative, Bob Vander Plaats, a northwest Iowan himself, supported Sam Clovis, while Ms. Ernst was a favorite of the party establishment, including the Gov, who determined she could win when Clovis–too hard-line CC!–couldn’t, even if he could sweep Sioux County. 

Sam Clovis lost, but he didn’t quit. He went to his website and just scratched in the word “Treasurer” instead of “Senate.” He’s still running, just walked back his ambitions. Watch for him. Shouldn’t be difficult. He’s hard to miss.

I just now read that Candidate Clovis had said somewhere that there were enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama; and, if he’d be there, he’d vote for it himself. No wonder Sioux County liked him. We haven’t had a good old impeachment hearing since Clinton. 

George W got a pass, of course.  He got us into a war over weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there. Thousands of people died–including 4500 Americans. Hey, what the heck–everyone else was wrong too, you know. Besides, W was a Christian. Obama’s a Muslim.

Last week the South Dakota Republicans officially called for Obama’s impeachment for the five-terrorist swap for that turncoat Bergdahl, the bald-faced lie about keeping your insurance under Obamacare, and seven other deadly sins. “I’ve got a thick notebook of impeachable offenses of the President,” said the guy who sponsored the South Dakota resolution. It passed.

Among this country’s conservatives, hate’s become a virtue.

Research indicates the most conservative burgs in their respective states are not only close to home, they’re heavy laden with wooden shoes. In Minnesota, it’s a tiny place named Prinsburg, which is almost exclusively Dutch Reformed. In Iowa the hot spot is Doon, just up the road. In Wisconsin, it’s Oostburg, where I was born and reared. 

What does that say?  It says that somewhere down the road of life I went far, far astray. Today, if voting laws stipulated you had to have a Dutch name to participate, Obama would long ago have been back in Oahu.

Once upon a time right here in Alton, a whole crowd of people showed up to greet Teddy Roosevelt, a candidate for President who ran on a ticket determined–get this!–to control big business. That’s right. Let me say that again: “to control big business.” 

If it wasn’t for the mustache, you could mistake TR for Elizabeth Warren.

And he was a Republican.

And he was a Dutchman.

Look at that crowd.  It’s almost embarrassing.  Wonder what they think of us in Doon?

James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.

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