Iowa is a great place to be during an election year. Yes, the rest of the nation pisses and moans about Iowa getting to go first, but what do they know? Iowans are dismissed as monolithic, back water, goat herders, even though it was Iowa that launched Obama’s presidential campaign AND was the first to legalize gay marriage. (Regardless of how you feel about it, by the way.) For the last few months the candidates have made the rounds. My daughter and I had our picture taken with Bernie, where I told him I love his public access TV show from when he was mayor. He wasn’t impressed. I’ve talked with representatives from the Warren, Yang (I gave him a beer and then worried he wasn’t of age. He’s 30), and Buttigieg campaigns, but I’m hoping Iowa will surprise everyone on caucus night and launch Amy Klobuchar to be the next president of the United States.

When Klobuchar came to Sioux Center I shook her hand, and listened as she gave a pointed speech about why she’s the best candidate. She’s tough, maybe too tough for some, but that’s what you get from someone who launched her campaign in the middle of a snowstorm. She’s funny too. I know it doesn’t come across in the debates, but I think we can agree the debates are dumb. Give her more time and she’ll either leave you laughing or confused. (If you’re confused we’re laughing at you and not with you.)

Klobuchar’s policies are center-left. On health care and the cost of college she’s realistic. (I’m surprised no one is talking about Sander’s evasion of the question at the last debate from the audience: What will happen to insurance town’s like Des Moines if medicare for all passes? Another question: What will happen to private colleges if tuition at public universities is free?) Klobuchar knows how to work with people across the ideological spectrum from Sanders to Lindsey Graham. She knows how to get things done, which may not be flashy, but that’s my point—Minnesotans don’t trust flashy. How do I know? I’m from there. (Come hang out with my extended family if you don’t believe me about the flashy bit.)

My progressive friends think Klobuchar can’t win. They’re wrong—she has the political instincts and common sense to bring independents and moderate republicans on board to build a coalition that will vote President Trump out of office. Friends and family who support President Trump aren’t going to vote for anyone else, but I wonder if Klobuchar might at least make them think about it. She is the LBJ to Obama’s Kennedy (minus Vietnam of course)—a hard working politician who can get things done in a way that makes hope and change a reality.

Amy Klobuchar is a woman of faith, but that’s not why I’m supporting her. I don’t need my politicians to be exemplars of Christian virtue—my problem with the evangelical love affair with President Trump is they can’t just acknowledge he’s an immoral tool they’re happy to use to get what they want. (Seriously – just be honest about it and everyone can just chill out.) I make political choices in the context of faith, seeking justice and human flourishing by choosing between competing forms of imperfection. It’s the human condition; or, if you’re Lutheran, “sinning boldly”.

As far as I’m concerned, our country is best served by sending a bit of Minnesota to the White House. Hopefully next Christmas we’re done talking about impeachment; instead, we’re practicing our “uffdas” as America is introduced to lefse and lutefisk.

Jason Lief

Dr. Jason Lief teaches courses in Christian education and youth ministry. A Northwestern College graduate, he served as the chaplain for Pella (Iowa) Christian High School while earning a master’s degree in theology from Wheaton College Graduate School. He also completed a doctorate in practical theology from Luther Seminary. He previously taught theology and youth ministry at Dordt College for 10 years. Dr. Lief is the author of “Poetic Youth Ministry: Loving Young People by Learning to Let Them Go” and "Christianity and Heavy Metal as Impure Sacred Within the Secular West: Transgressing the Sacred.”

33 Comments

  • Carl Fictorie says:

    There are two issues I am trying to sort out in my head.
    One, I think the elephant in the room in health insurance is that such a huge segment is employer based. We have private insurance companies, but the average worker does not get insurance themselves, it’s a benefit of employment. Health insurance is not a “free market”–I have no choice, unless I change jobs. And why aren’t corporations screaming to congress to release them from the burden of having to provide such insurance? I submit it’s that, while expensive, it provides employers another mechanism to manipulate wages and keep the overall cost of employment down. Medicare-for-all seems to be the only proposal on the table that corrects this problem. I will grant that it will take more than one-term for a president and congress to implement such a system.
    Two, forty years of Reagan’s trickle-down economics has been an exercise in plugging leaks that result in very little trickle down such that the very wealthy and massive corporations (just read that Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google) are each worth over $1 trillion) keep getting wealthier while in the span of a generation or two the average family has gone from being able to live comfortably on a single income to needing two incomes. Warren’s career has been one of trying to tackle this problem.
    We need the non-flashy get-the-work-done people, certainly. But the above are issues that require very bold and visionary ideas, not patches and band-aids, to resolve.

    • Jason Lief says:

      If you look at her health care plan you’ll see she is in favor of expanding medicare down to 55. This takes a group of people out of the health insurance pool who cost more. She then wants to fix the Affordable Care Act and increase competition. Incremental steps that will bring independents and moderate conservatives on board. Medicare for all means another 4 years of the Trump administration.

      • lee tanis says:

        Pretty sure a President Warren would not get all the healthcare proposals she has (nor will any candidate, likely)…so I like that she’s aiming high and will have somewhere to compromise to get to the ideas above. I have been all-out for Warren AND I could get behind the senator from Minn….she’s not getting the same kind of press air-time as Biden, Sanders, and Warren, which I think is a pity. Listening to the amount of $$ Bloomberg is dumping into his campaign, I’m wondering what kind of effect that has on later primaries.

  • Henry Ottens says:

    After reading Robert Caro’s in-depth biography on LBJ, I wonder if you really want to compare your favorite candidate with the power-hungry, self-aggrandizing, immoral Senator from Texas. Some would say he makes the current POTUS look like a Sunday-school teacher by comparison. That’s a stretch, I know, but there must be a better model for Klobuchar to emulate.

    • Jason Lief says:

      I’m referring to LBJ’s ability to build a coalition and pass legislation, not necessarily his moral character. It’s possible that if it were not for Vietnam LBJ might be considered one of the greatest presidents of all time.

      • Henry Ottens says:

        No, Jason, there’s much more nefarious stuff than Vietnam. I urge you to read the Caro books. Your generous take on LBJ illustrates time’s ameliorating effect on politicians’ nasty reputations.

        • Peter Dykstra says:

          I’ve read the Caro books and visited the LBJ ranch and the library and have developed an appreciation for LBJ’s complexity. Shrewd. Self-interested. Power-hungry. Often dishonest. Mean. And yet he started as a schoolteacher and spent his political capital on the civil rights act to help poor, disenfranchised people.

  • Henry Lise says:

    Glad you are speaking out. We need to hear from Christians who haven’t been brainwashed by Trump! Henry L

  • Gary VanHouten says:

    Loved this! For me at this point it’s either Bernie, Elizabeth, or Amy. And with Amy’s star rising you might be on to something. Just wish I hadn’t read an article about how poorly, supposedly, she’d treated her staff.

      • Jason Lief says:

        Old news. That’s why I said she might be too tough for some people’s taste. There’s a gender bias on this issue anyway.

        • Steve Van't Hof says:

          Old news maybe but still very pertinent. “Too tough for some people’s taste” is a very soft way of admitting she is extremely rude, which certainly doesn’t equate to tough. And your last statement infers all agree with you or should, rather than admitting its a two-wrongs-makes-it-right argument. If she can’t do better, we should pick someone else who can.

        • Marty Wondaal says:

          “I would trade three of you for a bottle of water.”

          Toughness is an attribute for a president. This NYT article, however, indicates her meanness and bitterness.

          I’m not a proponent of casting intersectional aspersions, but this sounds like what could be called toxic femininity. Hillary Clinton has the same reputation.

          I prefer someone who is known to be generous with his staff.

        • Jeff Carpenter says:

          When I read or am directed to an article from the NYT or any other decent paper/news source, I often read responses, as they are often from equally thoughtful persons with other points of view. This letter, in response to the article suggested by MW, added some helpful perspective:

          “ProPublica reports that Sen. Klobuchar sponsored 92 bills in the 115th Congress (2017-18). Quite a lot of those bills enjoyed bipartisan support.
          I’ll take that record of Work Accomplished over an assemblage of anecdotes that smack of sexism and a sniff of snow-flake.
          Trying isn’t doing, folks. And sometimes people have a hard time with managers who don’t hand out stickers every time you simply do your job – and don’t hesitate to call out mediocrity. Think about what legislators like Senator Klobuchar are up against with the Trump administration – and then tell me why the most important issue here is whether the Senator is the kinder, gentler candidate.”

  • Jim says:

    I’m in. This Iowan is caucusing with her people.

  • Kevin McMahan says:

    Thanks for this, Jason. At this point I’m planning to caucus (maybe my favorite part of living in Iowa) for Warren for many reasons Carl shares, but while supporting health Care for all and support for higher education, I share concern about feasibility of Medicare for all and impact of free tuition on private higher ed. I like what Amy brings (Humphrey or Mondale a better comparison than LBJ?) and more than a little concerned about my own inclination to succumb to perceptions of “electability” for who to throw my support to. But what’s most confounding to me is the way a similar pragmatism leads many Dems to assume only a white male can beat Trump (“like a drum”). Please! Hillary won the popular vote by 2 million votes with, I believe, a suppressed turnout) just not enough in a few key more moderate states. And I look at that debate stage and really believe that it’s time to disabuse ourselves of such macho notions; I appreciate what Warren, Klobuchar, Yang & Booker bring to the field more than any of the white males and I don’t think it’s just because of their ethnicity or gender. When we adopt those “givens” it grants Trump an advantage before we even start! It seems to throw in the towel re values we must care about in the interest of preventing further damage by this President who is being impeached but won’t be removed from office due to the same “good old boys” way of doing things that is consolidating their power even as (and because) that privilege is eroding; THEY are a very strong MINORITY. If democracy can’t defeat that, as Amy said in the debate, we need to just give him a crown because we’ve lost our democracy. I believe the best person for this job now is a woman, and we’re fortunate to have two very able senators who could lead so much better than any of the male alternatives. Let’s pray that we don’t make the same “tool” mistake this time that Jason aptly points out Evangelicals (they are my people, and I still want to believe many will choose differently this time) have sold out to before.

    • Jason Lief says:

      I agree with much of what you say here. I’ve always liked Warren, and I agree health care is a significant issue. I just think the solution is baby steps, and Klobuchar does this. She wants to extend medicare to 55 which should, theoretically, help the cost of insurance by taking a pool of people out who have more health issues. I’m convinced that Klobuchar can build a coalition of independents and moderate republicans that Warren can’t. My conservative friends aren’t opposed to voting for a democrat – many of them don’t want to vote for Trump. Right now, as much as I respect Warren, Klobuchar has the best chance of beating Trump in the election. Warren will have to move to the center in a general election. Klobuchar’s already there.

  • Douglas Firth Anderson says:

    Thanks, Jason. Joan and I will be caucusing for Amy.

  • Loren Veldhuizen says:

    Can anyone confirm the rumor that the Yang family worships at New Hills RCA in New York? I hadn’t known that before. Just curious…….

  • Marty Wondaal says:

    Unless Michelle Obama decides to enter the race, the outcome of the election was decided when Kanye West came out with “Jesus is King” and opined publicly that it is ok for black people to not vote Democrat.

    Trump will get 20% of the African-American vote.

  • Fred Mueller says:

    “pi***s and moans” Trump’s foul mouth has nudged public discourse ever downward. So it has finally reached Christian journalism. What a shame. Please keep the level of discourse above this.

  • Sean Lucas says:

    To support your point: I have voted Republican in every presidential cycle since 1992 except for 2008 and 2016 when I sat out for principled reasons both times. Amy is the only Democrat presently running that I could envision myself voting for–and for the very reasons you mentioned. She is a true moderate, she is willing to work with the other side, she’s not afraid of her own party either. If she is not the Democrats nominee, I will be sitting out once again, because there is no way I will ever vote for Trump.

  • Pam Adams says:

    I really like what you wrote. Thank you.

  • Matt Huisman says:

    “I don’t need my politicians to be exemplars of Christian virtue—my problem with the evangelical love affair with President Trump is they can’t just acknowledge he’s an immoral tool they’re happy to use to get what they want. (Seriously – just be honest about it and everyone can just chill out.)”

    I acknowledge that it is a disgrace that Donald Trump is our President. No question. Now if the rest of us stood up and said the same thing, do you really think everyone else could just chill out? The answer is an obvious no. Nobody would chill.

    We’ve been doing the ‘you just need to acknowledge that you’re in league with Nazi’s’ game for 30 years. It’s over. Glenn Reynolds (The Instapundit) references the line from the movie Ghostbusters – ‘Choose the form of the Destructor’ when explaining Trump. Political expediency (also mentioned by Scott a few days ago) is not the primary explanation for the evangelical love affair with Trump (although I must say that I haven’t grown tired of all the winning). It was the deplorablification of half the country. Trump was the only option left to counter it. (And his immoral toolishness is just God having a laugh – every failing of Trump has exposed greater sins in the rest of us.)

    • Jason Lief says:

      I totally agree with you about the deplorablification part. Politically stupid on Clinton’s part. One of the reasons I support Klobuchar is because of her story—very blue collar.

  • RLG says:

    Hey, this has been a fun read and comments. We all have our biases. Thanks!!

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