Part Three: A Congressional Endeavor
A congressional candidate’s vision for rural Iowa and beyond
Disclaimer: Dr. Paul Knupp Jr. is running for Congress in the 3rd District. This article does not constitute an endorsement from PVI or the author.
By Dr. Paul Knupp Jr. with Amanda Malaski
All too often we see think pieces about rural America – how they feel, what they believe – written by coastal city dwellers. Sometimes these pieces even discuss rural Americans as the “rural problem,” as though they are just a monolithic nut to be cracked or an electoral puzzle to be solved and not equal Americans with their own lives and stories.
In this series, I will present progressive, rural Iowan lives and stories unfiltered, with as little of my own commentary as possible.
PVI: How long have you lived in rural Iowa? Has it changed during those years?
Paul: I first lived in rural Iowa when I moved here in in 1979. I first moved to Keosauqua, Iowa, Van Buren County. I moved from Princeton, NJ. I reported home to family in Youngstown, OH that we had no traffic lights in the county. They laughed and thought I was kidding. I elaborated that we had more hogs than people in the county. Again, they laughed. When one of my brothers came for a visit, driving from Ohio to Keosauqua, he remarked, “Wow, I must look a lot like you. Everyone is waving at me as I pass them.” I had to apprise my brother that people were just that friendly, it wasn’t because they thought he was me. Over the years, some of that friendliness has dissipated, but it is still a welcoming world to strangers.
PVI: How has the friendliness changed?
Paul: Overt friendliness has changed in rural Iowa. No longer do resident drivers wave at everyone they pass. They are more cautious of strangers. Still ready to help a stranger in need, though, the better part of valor.
PVI: Paul also shared a bit about the beauty he finds in Iowa’s wide open spaces.
Paul: Even though born and educated in the east, I prefer country living. “Walk on Down a Country road,” by James Taylor still gives me goose bumps. Walking down a gravel road in Iowa is one of my best experiences and memories. Walking through Lacey-Keosauqua State Park each day in Van Buren County, was a pleasure I will never forget. Iowa has beautiful state parks. I must return to one soon and hopefully live within walking distance.
PVI: What do you see as the greatest challenges facing rural Iowa?
Paul: Survival is the biggest challenge facing rural Iowa. Rural towns are dying because of the growth of malls and online purchasing. This presents an opportunity for people like me. We can purpose to live and do business in rural Iowa, much like people purposed to move back to the inner city. I propose to move my main congressional office to a rural setting, e.g., Montgomery County, to conduct official government business. This way I can help reestablish the importance and centrality of Iowa rural life.
Since Paul is a candidate, it feels extremely fitting that he shares his perspectives on how to reinvigorate rural Iowa through concrete policy ideas.
Paul: I want to enact certain legislation for Iowa and the entire country, rebuilding America;
- One trillion spent on the infrastructure, enlisting union labor.
- Medicare expansion to cover all Americans
- Citizenship for all undocumented persons with no felonies, a five year residency, and the payment of a one time $725 administrative fee.
- Free in state tuition for all undergraduates, academic or vocational.
- Restore all funding for women’s health and enact legislation guaranteeing the right-to-choose as the indisputable law of the land.
- Legislation enacting the Paris Accord agreement.
- Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
These laws need to be enacted now, with no compromise. I have a doctorate in leadership and I am ready to employ it. —
Check back next week for Part Four, which will be the first in a two-part multi-generational series where a mother and son share their stories of living in rural Iowa.
If you know someone who has a powerful rural voice, or you have one yourself, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.