Iowa, Jimmy Carter, UH discussed on Radio Atlantic
Hi this side of the Atlantic political correspondent and this is the first I episode of the ticket politics from the Atlantic. If you're new to the show welcome and if you've been subscribed to radio LANDIK welcome back. It's twenty twenty so it's election time. Maybe the most important presidential election of any of our lifetimes the results repercussions will shape the future of the country and the planet. And so we're going all in politics but I'm trying to go at this election in a different. I'm going to dig into what matters what's happening beyond the cable news chatter and and I want to bring you along for the ride for the last year and a half. I've been traveling all around the country to all the early states in the swing states and back to DC and I'M GONNA keep racking up those frequent flyer miles as the year goes on and this week. I'm where it's all going down on Monday night. Uh and actually for the start of this episode. I wanted to bring in the person who's been making the show. Since Radio Atlanta began over two years ago. You've heard his name in the credits. Each week producer Kevin Townsend. I Kevin so I was in a few days. You're about to fly there what What number flight is this style for you this past year it? It is is hard to keep count. I have gone a lot and so this week. You interviewed someone who's running for Congress in Iowa. I'm but before we get to that conversation I thought maybe it'd be helpful to do some setup So for people that don't go to Iowa like every week like you do Why does Iowa vote I it votes I because ahead of the nineteen seventy six election? There were people in Iowa some democratic operatives who decided they wanted to have the first vote and so they got out ahead of New Hampshire which was the first primary to say that they were GonNa have caucuses and then it became a big deal right away because in nineteen seventy six Jimmy Carter who basically nobody'd ever heard of he was. The governor of Georgia was running and he did really well in Iowa. Came came in second uncommitted to anybody came in first and that creates a buzz around him and he goes on obviously to become the nominee and the president and so people say oh I was big deal and then Republicans and Democrats both started tracking their way to Iowa every four years and Here we are ultimately thank you. Jimmy Carter history's greatest monster under the if not for Jimmy Carter. I would not have a favorite restaurant in Cedar rapids so I was had this role in American elections for almost a half century. Now now but a lot of the chatter ahead of the election hasn't been just about who's going to win Iowa it's also about. Why do we let this very white very unrepresentative state decide our our president? Yeah and it's been an issue because Iowa is not reflective of the rest of the country in demographics in pretty much any way There there is no major city there In terms of the racial and ethnic breakdown. It is a more diverse state than it was even ten years ago but is ninety something percent white it is an older state it is just not what the country looks like. And so you have this. This influence over the process that has to happen is the first state that votes that is done by something that doesn't look the country's all And with that conversation that's happening thing though looks like this year might be kind of a book end to the Jimmy Carter years of innovating and creating that our caucuses essentially creating what they are now that this might kind of be possibly the end of the story. Is that right yeah. That pressure has been building for several election cycles. But this year it seems to really come to a head because this started out as the most diverse field in in the history of any political party including the Democratic Party but then ended up with a list of front runner finalists who are all white. And that has prompted a discussion discussion of whether it's because of Iowa going first so that happened Iowans would point out that Barack Obama won the caucus in two thousand eight and Hillary Clinton won the carcass in two thousand sixteen so they have a pretty good track record of not just picking white men but there are some realities that are about Iowa and then are about the race as a whole. It's not not just because of Iowa. The field ended up looking like. Yeah Yeah Okay so all eyes on Iowa now onto the show this week's guest is jd. Shelton whose campaign video you can hear narrated by Kevin Costner. Mr Field of dreams himself. It is here. Uh Among the Rolling Hills Shelton is a former baseball player and fifth generation Iowan. He ran as a Democrat against the famously. Anti immigrant and ends in PHOBIC Steve King in two thousand eighteen. He came close to beating King. Now they're up against each other again this year and I spent a lot of time in Iowa but Shelton spent most most of life their sense of who we are so while everyone else does the WHO's up and who's down punditry. I wanted to talk to him to understand how this it's really looks on the ground. Take a listen JD. Shelton thanks for being here on the ticket. it's an honor to be here. Thanks for having me so I I have spent so much time in Iowa every political reporters spent so much time in Iowa all the politicians everybody but with all this coming. It's just such a weird way of seeing a state where you go from Eventua- von there are restaurants that I like in various cities now but I was your life. It's your entire your life. What do you think we all missed about Iowa over the course of this? Well I mean if I had to guess you you probably Know Moines pretty well no cedar rapids pretty well and maybe on the eastern side of the state pretty well You're not a lot of folks. Come out to western Iowa I live in Sioux city which is an arm's length away from Des Moines. which I like to say is is an arm's length away from DC and so It's interesting we just are wrapping up our thirty nine county town hall of the fourth. Congressional district has thirty nine counties in. We're doing them. In towns of UH under a thousand people and honestly impeachment has come up twice yeah and and so things like that. It's not always the narrative that I think some some of the national folks always talk about but It's one of those things where You really see the pain. That's happening in America in rural America is pretty prevalent in in my neck of the woods. And I I think that's one thing that a lot of these presidential campaigns when they come up it's one thing to talk about some of these things and it's another thing to actually feel it in in The folks who do make it up North West Iowa think. They're they're seeing that. What is that pain We're the second most agriculture producing district in America. So it's very much Agriculture your culture driven and I think a lot of folks just assume that if the tariffs ended tomorrow which Lord knows. That's not gonNA happen but that farmers will be okay. And that's not the truth. We see market consolidation in years of allowing mergers. And and what we're seeing right now are a lot of small towns struggling just to keep their local grocery stores alive. It leads to a question. That is the bigger question that everybody always has about Iowa. It's my friends and family and I even Fella L. Journalist sometimes answers why why why why are you going there. Why is it I so I mean and and the argument comes back? Well it's representative but it's not representative obviously demographically of the country. It's representative of some things about the country. I would assume that as a good Iowan and a good island politician you are not going to take a stand against Iowa earth I'm not GonNa Houlihan Castro but You know I think there is something to be said about Diversity in in what a caucus versus a primary and all that I think we need especially as a Democratic Party. We need to be very open about things. That race does play in a lot of different things that it matters where you grow up and how much access you have to political candidates and I understand that and I think it's a dialogue that we need to really have however I think there should be even class diversity in DC working class candidates. And that's one thing I'm trying to do is be a working glass candidate who makes it To Congress and in I think that discussion needs to be had but You Know Iowa has a lot of benefits to it I think we do a really good job of forcing candidates to to be retail politics in UC traditionally senators from large states. Don't do well here because they're used to just fundraising input on TV ads. But when you have to go out there and meet people with where they're at There's something to be said about that and especially for someone who's going for the biggest office in the land and I'm proud of we've been able to do so far and it's a more and more criticism comes each time and so it'll be interesting to see what happens next. I often say a in somewhat defensive Iowa no The rationale that seems to me of this point is it may not have been the best system system in the first place.