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What Else Are Iowa Democrats Doing?

Sage in bloom at the farm, June 1, 2021.

Associated Press ran a story on June 1, dateline Keokuk, Iowa, “Past the point of no return?” Iowa Dems hopes fading. It was a bit of a downer based on interviews with prominent Eastern Iowa Democrats bemoaning changes in the electorate that resulted in what we now know was a Republican rout in the 2020 general election.

The article featured the Second Congressional District race, which Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks won by six votes. Even this week some Democrats grumble, “count all the votes.” The race is over and candidate Rita Hart has not announced a rematch in 2022. The contest should never have been that close.

Johnson County, where I live, may be a liberal bastion in the state, yet that has little relevance to statewide elections. Even my precinct, in Iowa’s most liberal county, felt the sting of across the board Republican wins. My neighbors chose Donald Trump as president, Joni Ernst as U.S. Senator, Mariannette Miller-Meeks as U.S. Representative, Bobby Kaufmann as State Representative and Phil Hemingway for County Supervisor. Had there been two more Republicans in the race for county supervisor, they would likely have won here too.

So yeah, we Democrats are licking our wounds. We believed the results of the 2020 election would be much better than they turned out. What we didn’t expect was Secretary of State Paul Pate’s decision to mail an absentee ballot request to all registered voters because of the coronavirus pandemic would net so many Republican votes. The trope that increased voter turnout helps Democrats turned out not to apply.

What else are Democrats doing? Life goes on. We’re re-grouping.

Like most everyone in the electorate, we have lives that take precedence over politics. In my community that means continuing work with neighbors that never stops for elections. Unless I look at the county voting records, I don’t know if many of my neighbors are Democratic, Republican or something else. We felt the coronavirus pandemic here. One neighbor died of the virus and at least half a dozen got COVID-19. The condolence card I sent to the widow was no different based on party affiliation. As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to the Biden administration’s work on vaccines, we’ll exit the pandemic and take up many of the things we used to do in early 2020. A lot of my neighbors are presidential election voters, so politics is not a constant priority.

Most of my political friends are wondering which Democrats will run for office in 2022. The governor and U.S. Senate races are at the top of the ticket, and there are plenty of public sources for information about which Democrats may be running for what. Rank and file Democrats are keeping our powder dry until we know who will run to replace Governor Reynolds, Senator Grassley and Representative Miller-Meeks. There is only so much to do before there is a candidate.

We are all watching the national political scene because it impacts Iowa politics as much as anything. The expectation here is now that a grand jury has been convened in New York, Donald Trump will be brought up on criminal charges. I read an article about how he could run for president from prison. There’s no telling anything to true Trump believers.

As far as the national Democrats go, they struggle to get their voice heard amidst the noise of FOX News, talk radio, social media and, increasingly, at large employers who have disclosed their politics. According to these right-wing outlets, Democrats can do no good. I mean, God help us if the Vice President of the United States posts on Twitter, “Enjoy the long weekend.” The flippin’ sky must be falling to hear their side of it. Information about the good Democrats have done during the Biden administration — and there has been a lot of good — is being actively suppressed. Active Democrats I know are trying to understand what the administration is doing and find ways to inject that into the negativity so prominent in daily life.

To answer the AP article question, no, Democrats are not past the point of no return. We are living our lives, keeping our powder dry, and preparing for the next opportunity to mount a campaign to win in 2022. In a way, that’s what Democrats always do. We don’t expect to take guidance from the media or Republicans.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

One reply on “What Else Are Iowa Democrats Doing?”

Most depends on who runs and how many. We have lost a lot of elections because we can’t seem to find a candidate and put all the democratic votes behind that one candidate. Allowing the DNC to chose hasn’t worked well in the past and candidates that supposedly have lots of backing and plenty of money who are wealthy real estate magnates in Des Moines, don’t play well in rural Iowa. We still have people who win elections who are democrats, what they are doing appears to be getting the votes they need to win, which means they are focused on the job that needs to be done, and doing it with gusto or they wouldn’t be there. Grand standing is not a character trait of many winning candidates, they are, however, connected to their voters, whomever they are. As you say, your neighbors are still your neighbors whatever political persuasion they may be, they still react well to being treated fairly and from first hand knowledge that you are working for them and not against them. Dave Osterberg ran in a district that was tough as nails to win in because most of his district was in Cedar County. He went into the belly of the beast and talked to his intended constituents and connected with them on a personal level and he won elections where no other democrat could, it seems. It can be done, but it takes guts and it takes lots of them, but people do respond to the personal touch and they will listen to you if your arguments make sense to them. Facts be known, many an election has been won over shoe leather and pressing the flesh more often than good arguments on the stump!

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