Living in Society

Toward the Exit

Corey A. DeAngelis and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds at the statehouse on Jan 24, 2023.

Toward the end of Monday afternoon I was following three live video streams opened in browsers on my desktop. With recently improved data stream from our internet service provider, and an upgraded router/modem, the video was crystal clear, the sound excellent. I didn’t like all I was hearing.

One window was a Twitch streamer during a session titled “Makers and Crafting.” They were making chain mail for use with a cosplay character. I enjoy Makers and Crafting streams more than those that play video games or are “just chatting.” It felt like we were getting something accomplished.

The other two streams were the Iowa House and Senate debates over the governor’s public money for private schools bill, the Students First Act. There was never a question the bill would pass. This morning it is heading to the governor’s office where she is expected to sign it yet today. I couldn’t listen to all the speeches and shut my desktop down around 5 p.m. to prepare dinner. Everything we expected was happening and I couldn’t bear watching the disaster in real time.

As unsettling as anything about this bill was the photograph of lobbyist and consultant Corey A. DeAngelis with the governor. The out of state consultant has been pushing for the bill and with the governor’s assistance, he got his way. This photo reminded me of a photo then-governor Terry Branstad took with Drew Klein of Americans for Prosperity when the legislature gutted Iowa’s collective bargaining laws for public employees. Apparently Iowa Republican governors have an affection for lobbyists when they destroy long-established traditions.

In the post I made about this bill I wrote, “Since Jan. 1, 2017, Republicans held a trifecta, controlling the governorship, and both chambers of the legislature. They are remaking everything about state government, and in turn, about Iowa. Schools are just one part of their agenda.” According to DeAngelis and company, the governor is not finished with school choice in this session of the 90th Iowa General Assembly. I doubt she is finished re-making Iowa.

The Democratic planning for and execution of a 2022 campaign was lackluster at best. While some candidates, like state senate candidate Kevin Kinney, had money and hired an organizer, others didn’t have good planning, execution, or adequate financial resources. It was like Democrats forgot how to campaign since Obama won Iowa in 2008 and 2012. I appreciate the work House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls are doing to rebuild the party. It is not fast enough to make a difference this and probably the next couple of sessions.

On Saturday the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee is electing someone to replace Ross Wilburn as chair. I hope they pick someone young and energetic because what the state party has been doing of late won’t cut it if we want to claw our way back into legislative leadership. We have good people in the party. I hope one of them steps up, wins, and does well.

What matters more is the Democratic state central committee is increasingly irrelevant to people like me. Of course, I retired and am a pensioner now, so less people will take me seriously. If the party’s future is in younger, new people, I’m all for it. I have plenty to do in the coming years and crossing politics off my list would be a boon.

As the 90th Iowa General Assembly revs up with an early win for the governor, they have much they want to do in the next two years. I doubt I’ll like much of it. They followed commonplace advice that if one is to eat a bucket of frogs, eat the biggest frog first. With the Students First Act out of the way, and with it the big distraction it was, Iowa Republicans can be expected to continue remaking the state in their image. For me, that means it’s time to head for the exits.

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