Blaine Greteman

16 January 2024

In Iowa

In my staunchly Democratic college town, going to a Republican caucus seemed about as illicit as attending a dog-kicking convention: what kind of monsters would I encounter? But after the botched caucuses and Joe Biden’s humiliating defeat four years ago, the Democratic Party has all but abandoned the state: the GOP is the only game in town. Yesterday’s caucus was held in the cafeteria of my local elementary school. I sat next to two older guys who, true to stereotype, spent thirty minutes discussing their snowblowers. A little less predictable, they both had new rechargeable electric models, and were trading tips about the best way to replace the lithium battery packs in sub-zero temperatures without breaking them.

Read more about In Iowa

28 September 2021

Bare-Faced Grins

It’s now a commonplace that a ‘woke’ mob of ‘snowflakes’ are ruining campus life in the US. In the past month, the Times has covered the story of an American academic who claims he was forced from his job by ‘wokeism’; the Economist has fretted over ‘wokeness’ at ‘elite schools’; and the Netflix show The Chair has dramatised the story of a bumbling professor whose hypersensitive students destroy his life. In Iowa, where I’m a bumbling professor, state legislators tried to pass a ‘Suck it up, buttercup’ bill taking aim at anti-Trump and BLM protests. But the most easily triggered students on campus this year are the ones who think we’re violating their rights by asking them to wear masks or get vaccinated, even as the Delta variant has overwhelmed local hospitals.

Read more about Bare-Faced Grins

5 February 2020

Undecided Iowa Man

The gold dome of the Old Capitol Building in Iowa City is now part of the University of Iowa campus, where I work. It sits in state above the Iowa River, where bald eagles soar and dive. And there I was, running and stumbling through the snow because I was late for the Democratic caucus and had been been told repeatedly the doors would close promptly at seven o’clock. With a touch of Midwestern disdain for the tardy, a precinct volunteer told me I was ‘not going to make it’ as I pushed through the door and sprinted down the stairs. But I did make it, with time to spare. The weird mix of decorum and chaos continued through the night.

Read more about Undecided Iowa Man