by Anna Ryon
Things that make you go hmmm…
A week ago, on Wednesday, February 1, I announced that I am thinking about running to represent Iowa’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Less than 48 hours later, on the morning of Friday, February 3, conservative attacks began. The lead item on a conservative blog was a post alleging that I was violating state policy. The lawyer in me immediately reacted by running through all the ways in which the article was both legally and factually wrong. But the potential candidate in me was intrigued.
Why was this author so concerned? He obviously took the time to go through my social media posts to try to find something to discredit me. But why would he do that? I have no prior political experience, and I’m not actually a candidate. I just said I might run. I’m basically a nobody who got a whim to run for office. I announced it on Facebook because I wanted to test the waters and see what kind of reaction I got. I guess I’m seeing it.
Of particular interest to me was the difference between the blog’s post about me and a post about Mike Sherzan less than a week earlier. The post about Mike Sherzan, titled “Mike Sherzan on verge of launching in IA-03?” simply noted that he might run again and gave some background about his past campaigns. The post about me was titled “Potential IA-03 Dem candidate may be violating state policy” and had the sole purpose of alleging improprieties on my part. Hmmm…
The way I see it, the fact that the author felt compelled to go into full attack mode so soon after a woman with no political experience simply says she might run says a lot about who conservatives don’t want to run.
Then, curiously (or not so curiously depending on how cynical you are), Monday afternoon a conservative talk radio host from Cedar Rapids retweeted a tweet of mine that was critical of Donald Trump and David Young and added the comment, “I’m sure the mainstream voter will love that hat.” (I’m wearing my pussy hat from the Women’s March in my profile picture). First of all, ladies, you’ve probably experienced this scenario. You make a substantive statement on the issues and some dude who doesn’t know you thinks the appropriate way to respond is by criticizing your appearance. Sigh.
But more interesting, why does a talk radio host from Cedar Rapids care? He clearly took the time to seek out information about me and to try to goad me into some sort of social media war. He’s not even in the district where I’m thinking about running. And it’s still been less than a week since I said I might run. Again, the conclusion I reach is that the only reason he cares about the mere possibility of a woman with no political experience running for office is that he doesn’t want me run.
Does the thought of a woman who proudly wears her pussy hat make these guys nervous? Do they think they can bully me, and as a consequence other women who are considering entering politics for the first time, into going back to our place and being meek and quiet? If so, they are missing the point of the Women’s March, and all the resistance currently happening.
Regardless of their intent, these guys just revealed something important about themselves. The same old political game gets discussed in neutral terms because they know how to play (and win) that game. New voices that refuse to accept the system that got us to this point get attacked because they don’t know how to handle us. This is why we march. This is why we pack legislative forums. This is why we flood the statehouse. This is why I will continue to wear my pussy hat. They know we’re coming. And they’re scared.
I’d also like to thank these guys for the free publicity. I’m sure I have more name recognition following the blog post, which probably also generated some visits to my website. And the talk radio host has over 1,000 Twitter followers who got my tweet when he retweeted it. I always appreciate extra help getting the message out.
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus