Living in Society

Republican Romp

Iowa Capitol

We know Republicans are feeling pretty good about the way the state is going when the normally reserved Matt Windschitl includes a joke in his legislative update. “If a car uses wheat-based ethanol, does it qualify as a hy-bread vehicle?” The newsletter was about ethanol, and Republicans feel good when they address it to support corn-growers and the product from which it is made.

The Iowa House got its way with last week’s HF2128 regarding E15 ethanol in the state. It passed with many Democrats joining the Republican majority in favor. What didn’t get told in Windschitl’s newsletter was it was Democrat Mary Wolfe of District 98, ranking member of the judiciary committee, who wrote the language to help gas station operators in small towns deal with changes the new law would bring by increasing the blend of ethanol.

As has been expected for many years, especially since Republicans gained control of the Iowa Senate in 2016, each year brings more crazy legislation. Among the topics that have been broached in the early days of the final session of the 89th General Assembly are eliminating state income tax, eliminating all Iowa Code (yes, all) a bit at a time until it is revised by the legislature or deleted, putting surveillance cameras in virtually every K-12 public school classroom so parents can watch, sending teachers and librarians to jail for making unapproved classroom materials available, qualified immunity for police officers, and there will be something about taking away the rights of women to manage their health care once the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling that may impact Roe Vs. Wade later this year.

With all of these and more, Republicans are feeling pretty good about themselves. Don’t break your arm patting yourselves on the back people.

It looks like Democrats have a long road toward regaining a majority in either legislative chamber. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds rules the roost and is expected to cake walk into another term after the November election. Democrats ran one of their biggest donors against her in 2018. He came up short on charisma if not on money. Only Democrat Deidre DeJear, the losing 2018 Secretary of State candidate, is in the running against Reynolds. DeJear’s campaign hasn’t been able to achieve lift off. Being well-liked among Democrats hasn’t translated into a successful campaign for DeJear.

As I wrote yesterday, the pandemic is being normalized, even if it is not over. What hasn’t been normalized, or even adequately addressed, is how Democrats dig out of the grave they dug for themselves since Tom Vilsack was governor.

Like many Democrats, I’m willing to do my part. I also have stuff to do before I’m ready to enter my own grave. As a new septuagenarian, there is no time to wait for Democrats to get organized. That I can write that sentence does no justice to how disorganized we are as a party. The fear is there is no hope of digging out in the foreseeable future or in my lifetime.

I’m not encouraged by people who say we should wait until the campaign season is upon us. That means the 89th General Assembly adjourned sine die, summer is behind us, and the election is within shouting distance. The long-term structural change Iowa Democrats need lies outside any single election.

Some positive things have been accomplished by our leaders, especially by my state senator and senate minority leader Zach Wahls. What Ross Wilburn, Zach and the gang are doing is okay, yet not enough, and too slow in evolving.

While good people try to organize the circus we Democrats tend to be, Republicans are telling jokes and enjoying good times promoting corn ethanol during the Republican romp of which they can see no end.