Scenes from the 2020 Campaign Trail: Field of Dreams

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every so often, some farmer in Iowa finds a woolly mammoth. Often by accident. Especially in Mahaska County, home of Oskaloosa. Buried ten feet deep, the hulking bones resemble our own skeleton. Only larger, dumber. Funny how certain species go extinct and others, like us, treat the world like a giant party that nobody is paying for. Early humans encountered the prehistoric mammoths. Well, barely. And with disastrous results. Long story short, 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age, the last of the woolly mammoths died. Consensus is, humans hunted them into non-existence. Or it could have been climate change. Either way, the consequences were far too elaborate for us. So we shrugged and grunted, and life mostly continued.

A few thousand years before that, retreating glaciers carved out the Iowa Great Lakes. As a result, the state's bedrock has shifted into plains, hills, and prairies that never end. And now, in 2019, Iowans are celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Field of Dreams," a movie about imaginary friends from the past who love to play baseball in a cornfield. Meanwhile, we as a country are cascading toward a volcanic, likely cartoonish election. The Iowa State Fair is held six months before the Iowa caucuses. Iowa is the first State to conduct any official vote. A strong showing here can transform an underdog into a President.

Iowans' decisions will determine the fate of America. So the politicians swarm. Here is Iowa, trying to enjoy their Kevin Costner legacy, and everywhere they go it's politicians ranting with a counterfeit falsetto. In other words, begging. In other words, very desperate.

Every four years, just like that, Washington D.C. cares about Iowa. Every town, every voter, every county, every demographic. And every four years, the nation turns to the Hawkeye State like it's a groundhog on February 2nd, full of decisions, full of power, possibly in need of a good coercement. Each time they flock, the candidates bring the outside world to Iowa, and these are strange times, and the innocence of Iowa either intensifies or absolves the muck. The act of bringing America to America. It is the act of asking Iowa to think about the entire country as it makes its decision, as the State Fair hums loud and bright in the cool dark sky, like an oil spill across clear ocean. This, my friends, is the beauty of America. And this is what the Democratic candidates dropped pell-mell on Iowans.

So naturally I made the trek, 700 miles from Fort Worth to Des Moines, to see as many of the 20-plus Democratic Presidential candidates as I could as they flocked on the state like it was lined with gold. It marked the start of my journey through the 2020 Presidential campaign trail.

I want to tell you my particular story, and what it unfolds about the universe. About how the highways outside Des Moines in August, 2019 skittered like a piano, bumping through my grey Jetta that was near the end of its days.

About God.

About veteran suicide.

About civility to robots.

About $1,000 a month for free, no questions asked.

About AR-15s. About fame.

About the way night captures you under an endless velvet drift full of diamond-bright stars and the sanctity of life washes over you — because nature, honest nature, is the most beautiful secret.

About sewage.

About big Pharma.

About Make America Great Again.

About a terrified media and an arrogant media and the media we need, going forward.

About friendship among sharks and bloodsuckers. About how the cornfields in Iowa never bend, except during winters, at the will of the Canadian draft.

About how music means something different to everyone, and how, to some, it means nothing at all. About how political fame is a maneuver of business and power. About Power. About the every-minute artistries we all practice. About public opinion.

About freedom.

About mystics and shawomen in punk rock sneakers. About my father, and fatherhood. About a Mexican disco near a church and a sex shop. About American politics in the Trump era of American History, world history. About a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting.

We'll start in Iowa, at a Plumber's Union in Des Moines, August 8, 2019, the opening week of the Iowa State Fair, when there were over 20 candidates, as Joe Biden compared "poor kids" to "white kids."

Who the hell knows where we'll end up. But that's the fun of life, isn't it? Not knowing where we'll go next, only that we will find meaning in our search for meaning?

And for the next year, I'll be following the 2020 election, traveling around the country like a lost bird, and I'll give you the details and scenes nobody else will. Because I'm not a political guy, really, and I don't understand most of it.

And I find a lot of it hilarious, so much that sometimes people tell me, "You aren't supposed to find that funny." Well that's okay. Because we're America, and we always find a way out of a mess. And because Americans just want the truth. And we want it told straight. No nonsense. So, as I make my way across the country, I'll tell you what I saw and heard and smelled and suspected, and you can decide what the hell all of it means.

Keep an eye on this page for new installments to this series.

This article originally appeared on TheBlaze.com.

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!

Rather than join the social media melee about Baltimore's problems, Trump supporter Scott Presler decided to do something about it. He organized a massive volunteer event, inviting "Americans to help Americans" in cleaning up the neighborhoods of West Baltimore.

On Monday, at least 170 volunteers showed up from all over the country to haul away almost 12 tons of trash. In response, media outlets such as The Baltimore Sun, slammed Scott and the group of "right-wing extremist" volunteers, saying the effort was nothing but a political ploy for President Donald Trump.