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Rants & Reason

Here’s some ‘loud sounding wisdom’ for you

10/3/2018

Consider which incumbents should be promoted to “citizen.”

A bizarre day, indeed — providing thoughts for this round-up of current events.

First off, it began with a Des Moines Register news report that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign to stay in office has the theme “Iowa is No 1.” That’s according to a survey that found the well-to-do in Iowa are doing — what else? — well.

Reynolds’ “We’re No. 1” chant called to mind TV coverage of college football games where students — painted in school colors and mindless of a team’s 1-7 record — scream “We’re number one!”

Then off to church where a hymn is “Earth and All Stars.” The hymn is popular at college baccalaureate services because of academic references to “loud boiling test tubes…Athlete and band, loud cheering people.”

But three “academic” words in the hymn always go “CLANK” — “loud sounding wisdom.”

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Doesn’t wisdom sort of whisper its way into our lives?

“Loud sounding” is better suited to baloney, blarney or bull — like “We’re No. 1!” (Or when Reynolds called Mike Pence the greatest vice president in U.S. history.)

So that night I was going to ask State Rep. John Forbes (D) — known to his Urbandale pharmacy customers as John Forbes (Pharm D) — about Iowa being No. 1. Forbes is unopposed this November because people like him and trust him to put state and district interests ahead of partisan concerns.

No need to ask, however, because Forbes, in speaking to supporters, said that — despite Iowa’s strengths — thanks to the GOP and Reynolds, the 2018 legislative session was likely the “most damaging and egregious” in state history. Iowans and taxpayers who are not well-to-do suffered in decisions on management of Medicaid, mental
health, workers’ concerns, the environment and a host of other issues.

If you sought to escape such issues by watching, say, the women’s U.S. Open tennis championship, good luck. There the issue was not who had the best forehand or serve. It was about the backhand of Umpire Carlos Ramos maybe punishing SerenaWilliams in the final, tarnishing the tennis world and diminishing the victory by Japan’s Naomi Osaka.

Lots of loud sounding something or other there. 

Meanwhile the NFL season opened with the big questions being whether any players would not stand during the pre-game national anthem and whether owners would accede to President Trump’s demands that they fire such “sons of bitches.” Trump, after all, views the anthem as a tribute to the military, ignoring how millions of Americans have sacrificed and many have been killed in defending our freedoms on the home front.

That episode recalled wisdom from a retired U.S. Army general and former commander of NATO who spoke at a Drake commencement ceremony. Given concerns with the militarization of so many public events, Gen. Wesley Clark advised the class of 2002: “…the burden you have to bear is not the burden of conscription. It is the burden of citizenship. You must participate in making the decisions which will shape the future of this country. Your responsibilities and citizenship can’t be delegated…You are going to have to be actively engaged…in grappling with
the complex issues of civil liberties, how we trade off our freedoms for our security … And I think, when you do this, you have to recognize that all of the virtues that are traditionally Iowan are the very virtues you are going to have to live. You are going to have to debate…and that is the highest form of patriotism and loyalty to this country, that you are engaged and participating citizens, real citizens of this democracy.”

Clark echoed the wisdom of founding father Benjamin Franklin.

At the constitutional convention, the worry for some, who had lived under a monarch all their lives, was what title a former President should have. Not to worry, Franklin said. When the president leaves office, he’ll be promoted to the rank of “citizen.” As he put it: “In free government, the rulers are the servants and their people their superiors and sovereigns.” For presidents to return to the people “is not to degrade but to promote them.”

When voting Nov. 6., consider which incumbents should be promoted to “citizen.” ♦

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes the monthly Rants and Reason column for CITYVIEW.

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