Matt Chapman wades into what is sure to be an intense debate over how Democrats should communicate with Iowans about this disastrous legislative session. -promoted by desmoinesdem
These are very divisive laws, supported by the majority of the Republican base. The same folks who many of whom were hurt by laws stripping workers of bargaining rights, mandatory wage raises and even watering down workers’ compensation.
It will be interesting to see if this strategy works. My advice to anyone outraged by this session (and I acknowledge that it is too soon to do this now) would be to try to avoid the divisive issues. We have common ground with all workers in Iowa, and if we spend a lot of energy on guns or women’s rights, we will have a hard time trying to get change in our state.
If progressive Democrats get control of our legislature all these things will be corrected. We will have put them there and we will hold them accountable. Whether you’re for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or like me (I supported both, caucused for Bernie and canvassed for Hillary), this coalition is how we get there.
If the Republican strategy is not to succeed, we can’t fall into their trap. We can’t be free advertisement for their agenda that is corrupt and dangerous. And when we engage in arguments that a lot of times turn personal, we aren’t going to change anyone’s mind. We are just cementing their opinion and doing the advertising for the opposition. And wasting time and energy.
The policies working class Republicans voted for were not attacks on their livelihoods. None of them said “please strip us of our rights to a raise, an assault on chapter 20 or to be protected from being injured and having recourse.”
It was not the working Republican folks but the wealthy and the 1 percent who quietly did support this agenda behind closed doors. Americans for Prosperity, the National Rifle Association, the National Restaurant Association, American Legislative Exchange Council and others I’m sure did have input due to support and power they have across the country. But to focus on the power brokers is not only counterproductive, it is another trap.
They will label us as conspiracy theorists, and their base will eat it up. And the cycle will start again. I was pursuing an ALEC membership and I could try embarrass my member of Congress, but it is a waste of time. And what would I gain? An attaboy from like minded folks and a second of gratification. I can do better than that.
I have heard from a few Republican lawmakers that they have to vote the interests of the people that put them there. I think that is true. And the assault on workers just highlights who this session’s representation was for. Not the workers. The special interests. It is the fact, and we need to hammer this message to all working Iowans. Not specifically ALEC or AFP, but a generic special interest. To get lost in the weeds of just who this is will be a gift. “Who are you representing? Iowas workers or someone else? Because you have hurt all Iowa workers.” I think that is the way to shed light on who they are serving.
So don’t focus on the special interests. Focus on the flesh and blood lawmakers who are there to represent us. I will take the tack of just holding lawmakers accountable for their votes, who it affects and how. And then I will share it, and hopefully like minded folks will not just get themselves to the polls next cycle, but also get a few people educated on how important their vote is. This session would be a good teachable moment.
So let’s try to avoid these traps and focus on the ways this session has hurt Iowans. We need to spread the word and get folks to turn out who are concerned about workers’ rights and beat that drum for the next eighteen months.
This is a strategy that I think can win.
Dallas County resident Matt Chapman closely follows Iowa politics and legislative affairs.