Living in Society

Withered and Whining

Prairie Grass in Late Summer

Bobby Kaufmann is not a victim. He may be an aggrieved party from time to time, but victim? No.

His latest grievance was expressed in a letter to the editor of multiple House District 73 newspapers as follows:

“I had warned the organizers of all of the debates this cycle that my family was in a serious bind right now. My grandpa is now living in a memory unit and my uncle had emergency triple bypass surgery. This left me to fill a huge void in the family farming operation. Events would have to be missed.”

In the letter Kaufmann focused on the Monday, Sept. 10, Johnson County Task Force on Aging candidate forum. He chose to miss it.

Lyle Muller, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs moderated the forum. At the beginning he said the empty seats left for Kaufmann and one other candidate were not a statement of any kind. He hadn’t heard back from them after the invitation and hoped they were running late and would appear before the end of the forum. Neither did.

All Kaufmann had to do was give Muller the courtesy of a phone call or email to say he couldn’t make it to the forum because of family concerns. We all experience those things and I for one would understand. Most reasonable people would. Instead he blew off the forum like a speck of dust after working a field, failing to show common courtesy warranted for a public figure.

It’s not that Kaufmann would have had anything new to say. We know him well. Since Kim Reynolds assumed the governorship Kaufmann repeatedly expressed his support for her and parroted talking points about why there were revenue shortfalls during the 87th Iowa General Assembly. When it comes to the final vote on bills before the House, Kaufmann has been there for the Republican majority on most of them. Where was he as chairman of the government oversight committee when Medicaid began heading south soon after the decision to privatize was made? He was in the back pocket of the Republican governor.

It is hard to say whether Kaufmann will hold his seat in the legislature this cycle. Democrat Jodi Clemens has been doing the work of a campaign — putting in the planning, volunteer organizing, fundraising, and voter contact needed to win people over. There is a lot of excitement about her campaign in the district. Beating three-term representative Bobby Kaufmann has always been a steep hill to climb. Kaufmann got 12,388 votes (73 percent) of 16,889 cast in 2016 running unopposed. When he last had an opponent in 2014, Kaufmann got 8,448 (66 percent) of 12,825 cast. He has the incumbent’s advantage this cycle and midterm voter turnout is expected to be better than in 2014 but less than 2016. All of this is to say if readers care about flipping the house, get out there and help Jodi Clemens win.

In the end it’s the voters of House District 73 who have reason to be aggrieved about our politics. Republican votes on a host of issues, combined with malpractice on the privatization of Medicaid, created a partisan environment no one asked for. Instead of bucking up and taking the heat that comes with being a public figure Kaufmann withers into a whining persona full of righteous indignation that rings hollow in the homes of people hard hit by Republican policy. Kaufmann a victim? Suck it up buttercup.

~ Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2018 edition of The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter. The Prairie Progressive is funded entirely by reader subscription, available only in hard copy for $12/yr. Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.