Thursday, October 17, 2013

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Across the divide

Purple heart 

Lessons from Iowa’s Terry Branstad on how to run a divided state Oct 19th 2013 | DES MOINES | From the print edition 

BACK in 2009, when Terry Branstad was president of Des Moines University in Iowa, he found himself increasingly unhappy with the way his state was being run. He knew a thing or two about it: as governor between 1983 and 1999, he had steered Iowa through the farm crisis and on to a prosperous economy with a 2.6% unemployment rate. But with a comfortable university perch and a solid legacy as a public servant, politics did not beckon. That was until two law students started a Facebook campaign to draft him to run for governor again. When about 10,000 young people had joined, Mr Branstad knew he had to do something. He resigned as president that October, and in little more than a year was being sworn in for his fifth term. 

What makes Mr Branstad more remarkable is that he governs one of the most politically divided states. He is, argues Steffen Schmidt, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, the most successful and pragmatic politician in the United States. Hyperbole, perhaps; but Mr Branstad is already America’s second-longest-serving governor, and he is likely to be re-elected next year. [More...]