Tone-deaf. That’s the dismal state of the political discourse in our nation these days. Regrettably, Iowa has an all-too-prominent role in this bumbling lack of awareness of how our democracy is being eaten away by the people who want to be our leaders. Pour yourself a glass of Maalox. You will need it, because your acid indigestion will flare up before we get far in today’s discussion.
With all of the frustrations, the tragedies and the maddening political chaos that have been with us this year, I have the perfect recipe for our Thanksgiving celebrations. No, it is not a new take on green bean casserole. It’s not some newfangled way to ease the strain on our belts after a holiday meal. More than anything else, what our celebrations need this year is an extra helping of gratitude. Randy Evans
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.
There is one week set aside each year to salute newspapers for the important role they have played in our nation, a role that goes back to the beginning of these United States. This year, however, waiting until Oct. 4-10 and National Newspaper Week has been difficult, because the coronavirus pandemic and a variety of major news events across our land have tested newspapers, and our communities, in ways we might never have fathomed. Taking stock of the contributions by newspapers, large and small, serves as an important reminder of why our founding fathers wrote freedom of the press into the Constitution’s Bill of Rights – and why the theme for this year’s National Newspaper Week, “America Needs Journalists,” is so appropriate. We have seen our lives and our communities change in dramatic ways because of coronavirus.
Whenever a friend or relative dies, it’s not unusual to find ourselves dwelling on the conversations we wish had occurred or the questions that never got asked. That certainly was true with my parents, Noel and June, who left long before my brothers and I ran out of questions about their memories from growing up during the Great Depression or during those anxiety-filled years of World War II. That was also the case with my friend, Berkley Bedell of Spirit Lake, who died earlier this month at age 98, a few days after suffering a stroke. Randy Evans
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register.
Here we go again. Many politicians and their followers are warning of the dangers of the United States drifting into socialism. If you listen to those sounding the alarm, the culprits behind this trend are presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Party in general, and some of the party’s young lighting rods, notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. I’m not here to defend Bernie, Elizabeth or AOC. Put me down as “highly skeptical” that a majority of us, or even a majority in Congress, want to provide everyone with government health insurance, want taxpayers to wipe out everyone’s student loan debts, or want everyone to receive a free college education.
Fifty-three years ago, I was a high school kid in southern Iowa who knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: I wanted to be a journalist. The first step on that journey occurred when I walked into the offices of the Bloomfield Democrat and introduced myself to Gary Spurgeon.
He was the editor. But Gary ended up being my “professor” at the Spurgeon School of Journalism. Working for him my final two years of high school and during vacations when I was in college, I learned lessons from Professor Spurgeon that I am now preaching to others a half century later.
Gary was motivated by a higher purpose as a newspaper editor and publisher. He believed a newspaper is much more than merely a business.
The school year is finished, but whether we like it or not, Iowans have been sent to summer school this year. Randy Evans
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register. Opinions are his own. Visit the Iowa Freedom of Information Council website at: http://ifoic.org/
The subject for our summer education: the economics of foreign trade and tariffs.
Our leaders like to remind us, and the rest of the world, too, that the United States is the most powerful nation on Earth. Yet, the events of the past week are a reminder that the U.S. appears to be incapable of dealing effectively with some events that occur in this country. When news flashed around the globe that a United States congressman had been gunned down by a sniper at a community baseball field outside of Washington, D.C., the first thing many commentators and members of Congress said were along the lines of, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congressman Steve Scalise.”
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register. Visit the Iowa Freedom of Information Council website at: http://ifoic.org/