|Leonard (Register photo by Rodney White)|
Leonard, who says he leans liberal and hates Trump, says he found his niche by listening to people and not assuming they're stupid. "He's not writing to change minds, he said, but to explore what they think," Kilen reports. His anthropological approach is no accident; Leonard has a Ph.D. in anthropology and taught it at the University of New Mexico.
Though his interviews with locals help illuminate rural Iowa for urban denizens, they also help open eyes closer to home. Megan Suhr, chairwoman of the Marion County Democratic Party, said Leonard's pieces help her understand neighboring Republicans better. "I don't always agree with his conclusions of rural Iowa," she told Kilen. "But he does make me more patient with others in my community."