What Living in Iowa During an Election is Like

When is it okay to lie? When my Wii “Fit” avatar chirps cheerily at me that “You’re OBESE!” is it a sin to tell myself the machine is outdated and not up to AMA standards, and believe it? In the grand scheme of things, that’s not hurting anyone but myself, so maybe it’s not a real lie. I hope. I grew up able to recite the Ten Commandments, but number eight I always stumbled over, mainly because it was one of the longest. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” made no sense to me at all. What’s “shalt” and just who is a false witness? (I watched some of Perry Mason when I was ten.) I knew what a witness was. And my next door neighbors were all nice. It wasn’t until finally someone told me “false witness” wasn’t a person. It meant “a lie” and so we weren’t supposed to lie – to anyone. Well, why didn’t Moses just say so?

iowaNow I’m an adult – an older adult, by the way. I am on Facebook and some other social media I’m still trying to navigate through. I am also an Iowan, born and raised here. Have never lived anywhere else, and never desired to. Oops, wait! That’s a lie. Every four years, since 1972, I have wished I lived somewhere else. That’s because that was the year Iowa became the first in the nation to hold the presidential caucus. Now, don’t get me wrong. Our democratic process is wonderful. At times, it’s exciting. Iowans are given the chance to rub elbows, chat, and/or eat with the potential next President of the United States. And don’t forget photo opps: in today’s age, selfies with a candidate pop up all over the internet. Pretty remarkable!

But there’s a downside, too. When you’re used to hitting a restaurant at the last minute to grab a quick bite to eat, and then find out that there’s no room because of reporters or candidates filling up the joint, you learn to make your lunch dates way before or after the caucus is over. Television stations, radio and newspapers relegate all the local and state news to the end. And since this is basketball season, if a favorite college team is playing some night, you’d better pray there’s no debate scheduled at the same time. Or make sure you have ESPN!

But the real reason I wish I lived elsewhere – and by that, I mean another COUNTRY – is that I’m sick and tired of trying to navigate through all the candidates’ lies. They all lie, right? They have to – it must be in the fine print of their application to become a candidate! It’s a mind-boggling game that recently has begun over a year before the caucus starts. I look at how many times the front runner changes, based, evidently, from some sort of survey which neither I nor my many friends have been asked to take, so how accurate is it really? Aha — The survey must be a LIE!! But the changes come, it seems, based on how badly a lie is told.

Remember Gary Hart? He was a presidential wannabe in the 1980s, who got caught by the press in a lie(s) about being a womanizer, which he categorically denied. Until there was a published photo. Public polls had shown a majority of people didn’t think an affair would affect a president’s ability to govern the nation. But evidently too many people didn’t like that he lied about his personal life, and he bowed out of the campaign.

This campaign is totally different. Even with fact checks like Snopes.com and Factcheck.org that prove some of the various candidates’ quotations are false, lying seems to have its advantages and leaders remain on top. It may be a sin in some religions, but it must not be a sin in politics, it seems. I guess there’s nothing I can do about it, but vote for the nicest candidate, as soon as I figure out who that might be. Oh! And I guess I could ride on the coattails of this phenomenon. Guess what? I’m five feet, eight inches tall, weigh 120 pounds, and my measurements are 36-24-36.

Now I need to go to confession…

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