Letter to the editor: O Iowa!


To the editor:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “oxymoron” as “something that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements.”

Sadly, I found the governor’s new slogan, “Iowa: Freedom to Flourish,” a laughable, absurd phrase made up of contradictory elements.

If I may state the obvious, ripping away human and civil rights and replacing them with government mandates is hardly the “freedom to flourish.” Government control of what books are in our schools, what history may be taught, what medical decisions may be made — along with denying Iowans SNAP benefits, exposing our children to more workplace dangers while expanding the hours they may work in a school week and more —  does not create an environment conducive to “flourishing.”

What graphic should be protruding from the “O” in “Iowa”? What would be more aligned with our current situation?

An “O” of handcuffs for the rights we are losing at a dizzying speed?

A shiny gold coin for the corruption the restrictions on our state auditor will allow.

How about a fist to represent the punch in the face many Iowans have felt since the GOP took control and signed a flurry of unnecessary laws that most Iowans didn’t ask for and don’t support—forgetting they are to represent all Iowans, not their narrow personal interests or desires for power.

Or maybe a white bonnet from “The Handmaid’s Tale” should cover the “O” and block our peripheral vision.

The governor’s ridiculous slogan is more congruent for me if I interpret “flourish” in the sense of “to make a bold and sweeping gesture” or “to wield with dramatic gestures.” Yes, the hard work of the governor and the legislature to dramatically demonstrate their faux commitment to the needs of Iowans—smoke and mirrors and outright lies.

However, the governor has — thankfully and likely inadvertently — given me a modified version of former President Obama’s hopeful “O” logo.

Or maybe there remains a flame of democracy burning within our lost GOP-controlled state and it is showing itself in the gold and green “O.”

Iowa is worth fighting for. If I focus on the “O,” then I can see fires of hope. The hope of change, of strengthening our democracy, of potential real progress for all. The hope that builds upon Iowa’s progressive past.

I’ll cling to the promise and hope of that democratic, Obama “O,” when Iowans were on a more progressive and positive trajectory to raise everyone up and help move Iowa and the U.S. toward its ideals. Ideals easily found in Iowa’s civil rights history but missing in our state’s more current legislative actions.

Too many Iowans are not experiencing a “freedom to flourish.” Focus on the promise of that Obama “O.” Use your Iowa work ethic, and fight for the democracy on the horizon—one that returns Iowa to a leader of civil rights versus a leader in restrictions and limitations.

Laura Stebbins


  1. Laura is a wonderful writer, an incredible heart, and a former classmate that I regret not knowing better. Thank you for pointing out the hope.

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words and positive feedback, Eric, truly appreciate it! Let’s all stay hopeful. 🙂

  3. In a list of things Iowa needs, a new slogan is dead last. I would like to have been in the room when this was chosen. I’m sure Laura would too. Let’s talk about health care in Iowa? No, let’s get a new slogan. An excellent response.

  4. This new marketing slogan is a Kim Reynolds dog whistle attempting to advertise “conservative” dominion over Iowa. Out of infinite possibilities, that this is the message she wishes to convey speaks volumes. Freedom, eh? Something (or someone) on your mind there, Kim?


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