Living in Society

Doing What I Can

Garden tomatoes for slicing, August 2022.

Democracy can be subverted by a minority and that’s what the radical, conservative right is doing, according to David Pepper, former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. The right realizes their views are unpopular on abortion, gun control, climate change, equal representation under the law, the economy, and other issues. Because they can’t win federal elections on their positions, their goal is to tear down democracy and the institutions built since the formation of our Democratic Republic in 1788 when the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the states. Our politics and our democracy are increasingly unstable.

People in a position to know remind us more often of threats to Democracy. What will it take to activate voters who normally sit out the midterms, voting only in presidential election years? As author Jane Mayer, Pepper and historian Michael Beschloss remind us, a lot of the action to subvert our democracy is happening at the state level. That’s true in Iowa as well as in other Republican-controlled states.

According to Pew Research, the economy was by far the most important issue to voters during the 2020 election, followed by healthcare. You wouldn’t know that in Iowa. Republicans seek to dismantle public schools, remove regulation from agricultural and other business operations, and rig the economy so it favors large-scale agricultural interests like those investing in Carbon Capture and Sequestration. The culture wars are in full engagement as Republicans pursue removing a woman’s right to control her body, transfer school funding from public to private schools, and attempts to regulate school curriculum to present a limited view of our history and lives in society. One could argue, and I do, that during the midterm elections we have to pay attention and address this radical governance.

Historian Michael Beschloss posted the following on Twitter Aug. 7:

Beschloss’ list is good and here’s how I would “do what I can.”

Supreme Court: Many of us realized the U.S. Supreme Court was an overarching issue during the 2016 presidential issue. It ranked highly in 2020. The damage of the 45th president appointing three young, conservative justices recommended by the right wing Federalist Society is done. There is no undoing a lifetime appointment to the judiciary in today’s political climate. We should watch what’s going on in the Supreme Court and support election of a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and a Democratic president.

State governors, legislature, secretaries of state and election officials: This is the ball game in 2022. The prospects of electing Democratic majorities in the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives is bleak. In the nine Johnson County precincts in Iowa House District 91, there are only three volunteer precinct captains, including me and the county auditor. In a better situation, we would have nine. There are 10,759 registered voters in the district in Johnson County, 10,824 in Iowa County. Of these, 6,357 are Democratic or 29 percent. Republicans have a 1,717 registration advantage, which means Democrats must get out a lot of non-Democratic votes to elect our candidates. As I’ve written before, our gubernatorial candidate is running behind in the recent Iowa poll, and in fundraising. A focus on voter registration and contacting the right section of the 71 percent of the electorate that is not Democrat is what’s needed.

Congress in 2022: Our first congressional district has in Christina Bohannan a candidate who is working. Whether she can win is an open question, and polling is conflicted about where she stands. The campaign has done some outreach yet what I can offer is to include her when canvassing in my Iowa House District. In retired Admiral Michael Franken we have the strongest candidate for U.S. Senate since the last time Tom Harkin ran. I know Franken better than most Senate candidates I supported in recent years. He appears to be doing the right things to increase his name recognition. He says voters are weary of Grassley. Because of his long Navy experience most Iowans could view him favorably. We need to get the word out.

Presidency in 2024: I don’t expect Joe Biden to announce whether he will run for president in 2024 until after the midterm elections. If he runs, I will support him. He has arguably done the best job, in terms of passing legislation, of any recent president. More of the same is fine by me if he’s up to it. If Biden doesn’t run, it is a jump ball. I like Kamala Harris as vice president. I don’t believe the nomination should just be handed to her if Biden doesn’t run.

When we break political activism down like this, it is easier to get a grip on what is possible for one person to do to save our democracy. Save it, we must.