I’m an Iowa transplant. I was born and raised on the Illinois-side of the Quad Cities. My parents’ home is still mere minutes from Davenport, Iowa, but I will tell you: politics makes these neighboring states feel worlds apart.
When I attended Drake University eight years ago, fresh out of high school, I didn’t know what the caucus was. No one had ever knocked my door and asked for my vote (or, for that matter, my parents’ votes). Drake hadn’t yet become such a big part of the national political conversation, but even if it had, that wouldn’t have been a prominent reason for me to move here. I was going to study journalism, become a writer, and maybe go to law school; the political scene wasn’t even on my radar.
Fast forward to my first winter break. My parents and I had never discussed our political views, and I had no idea who they had ever voted for. I made the trek home after finals and finally had the talk: “Mom, I think I’m a [INSERT POLITICAL PARTY HERE].”
Today, state, local, and national politics are part of my job, at the peak of my interests, and amongst the forefront of conversation with my friends. Iowans pride themselves in being politically in-tune—we listen, we volunteer, and we vote. We live in a purple state where the stakes are high, even outside of our major cities, and you can find a presidential candidate at your neighbor’s house on the weekends.
We spark political debate, no matter your party registration. We serve as model for the country with our nonpartisan redistricting process. We’re first in the nation, and no matter how many other states wish they were as sought after as we are, we set the stage for New Hampshire and Super Tuesday like it’s our job. (Even if we aren’t that great at predicting the Republican nominee; sorry Senators Cruz and Santorum.)
I may have grown up in Illinois, but Iowa has afforded me a passion, and I’m of the opinion that there’s definitely no better place to be.