BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
I was getting caught up on my reading Sunday morning while having the scanner and Meet the Press going on in the background. I can multi-task.
A wave came over me at about 8:10 this morning that politics has never been more prominent in our daily lives as it is right now. The GOP controls government at the federal level and in Iowa, among other states in the Union.
The Trump administration is seeing that running the country is more than saying whatever you want and cleaning it up later. It’s starting to realize that words have consequences and the country was swept up by this atypical man who wants to ‘Make America Great Again”. I, like a good portion of Americans watched with mouth agape as Trump won state after state. My daughter called from New York City.
“What’s going on Dad!?”, “He can’t win this?”
I typically watch politics play out. We do, after all, live in a Democratic Republic. It’s not oxymoronic, it’s real. We get who we get and those people draft our laws and guide our country financially, militarily, and socially. We get them through an election, but our voices are in deference to the people we elect. We just hope they are working in our best interest and, in theory, if they aren’t they risk re-election.
It doesn’t always work out that way, but as they saying goes, it may not be the best system, but it’s our system. We’ve done ok as far as hegemon standards go.
But the state level is a different horse this year. Governor Terry Branstad is clearly on his way to China and we have a Senate and House that are GOP dominated. And we’ve seen this year how powerful that scenario can be. On Thursday, Branstad signed a bill eliminating local governments’ ability to set a different minimum wage than the state. That is just a part of what could fairly be said are a series of new laws that broadly sweep away our ability to think and act for ourselves including changes in worker’s compensation laws very eerily specific to repetitive shoulder injuries and reducing benefits for those injuries in lieu of a two-year retraining benefit at a local community college.
Not that it’s not good to get people back to work – that makes sense, but the push for the change was from meat packing companies who had been paying out on the injuries because people were doing jobs for them that specifically caused the injuries.
All these changes, and potential changes to the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, have done one thing for sure. Energize the other side. Democrats are ringing the bells of their constituents in a “Are you seeing all of this?” Senators and Republicans alike on the Democrat side of the aisle are posting emails and using social media to shine a very bright light on what is going on in the Capitol Building in Des Moines.
Social media is becoming a strong weapon for legislators to post videos of hearings, speeches, even messaging to their constituents through self videos.
All this increasing second-to-second newscycle keeps politics in the forefront of people in their spare time because that time is spent on our phones where everyone is bombarding our senses with news and information.
The current climate should extend the political campaign season and with emotions as high as they are, savvy Democrats are going to keep the fire burning as they plan to take back control of the Iowa legislature. And when the legislative session ends there could be a rush of Iowans forming exploratory committees and that’s a good thing.
Let the campaigning begin. Most Iowans aren’t over the shock of the last campaign, but things have happened so quickly. The dark side is that a lot of this movement, even from what is supposed to an objective perch of the media, has been done in a way that reduces discourse and that flies in the face of what we’re supposed to be doing here.
Granted, eventually decisions have to be made and we all know that things can get ‘talked’ to death and movement must at some point take place. But this has been something different. Something a little…scary even.
So let the cards fall where they fall. We might as well take the opportunity to sniff out the very best of candidates.
Let the sandwich lunches and chicken dinners begin….but that’s Beside the Point.