Bombs to balms

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, returned Peace Corps volunteer, former state legislator, former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service (now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service), a former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

I have reached a point in my life journey when I often wake at night and mull over the life this world and my country have given me. 

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Why should Iowans care about D.C. statehood? The truth is, we always have

Tamyra Harrison is founder and director of Iowans For D.C. Statehood. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 1978, when Congress put what was right for the American people over party interests, Republicans and Democrats came together on behalf of a large group of American citizens.  With the required two-thirds majority, they passed a proposed constitutional amendment to give full representation in both houses of Congress to the District of Columbia.

Republican Senator Strom Thurmond said it best: “The residents of the District of Columbia deserve the right to (full) representation in Congress if for no other reason than simple fairness.”  Unfortunately, only sixteen of the required 38 states needed to ratify the amendment approved it, so it failed. Iowa was one of those sixteen states.

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Must-see exhibit chronicles racist housing policies in Des Moines

“They took our land, they took the grocery store, they took the community center,” Joyce Bruce recalled of a project that destroyed the African-American neighborhood anchored by Center Street in the late 1950s and 1960s. “They just wiped that whole block completely out, all, all the way down.”

Bruce’s words and other personal stories are featured in a new interactive exhibit devoted to the history of racist housing policies in Des Moines. Federal government programs and city initiatives over many decades contributed to persistent, wide-ranging racial disparities in Iowa’s largest metro area.

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Democratic presidential primary schedule needs serious evaluation

Dan Guild: “The modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.” -promoted by Laura Belin

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us remember the importance he placed on African American access to the ballot box. A portion of a speech he gave in 1957 is below.  The whole text is worth reading.

But even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition. And so our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote. [Audience:] (Yes)

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights…

Give us the ballot (Give us the ballot), and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yeah) into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Unfortunately, the modern primary schedule greatly reduces the voice of African Americans in the selection of the Democratic presidential candidate.

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Why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump

Caleb Gates lives and works in Cedar Rapids. He provides case management to new refugee families and advocates for new Iowans. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I came to bed on election night 2016 and told my wife Donald Trump had won, she cried and asked me, “Are you going to lose your job?”

I worked with refugees. In December 2017 I learned Trump’s anti-refugee policies were shutting down the program I worked for. I lost my job the following month.

I was blessed to find another job working with refugees, but many others in that field were not so fortunate. The Trump administration has stained the moral fabric of our country and decimated our global reputation. Many lives have been damaged or even destroyed as a direct result of the actions and decisions of this President. The stakes are high, and Democrats, independents, and even many Republicans feel it.

Given the stakes, priority number 1 for election 2020 is beating Donald Trump. We Iowans have a political responsibility to send a message to the country and the world, a responsibility greater than we deserve as less than 1 percent of the U.S. population and whiter and older than the country as whole. I will vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination, but I want my caucus vote to help choose the right nominee. After mulling this decision for the last year, the answer is now clear: Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump.

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Reframing racism

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. He has endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans like to see presidential candidates in the flesh, but sometimes their surrogates offer perspectives that deserve as much attention.

In early January, Heather McGhee spoke on behalf of Elizabeth Warren to a small group of Iowans at Smokey Row in Des Moines. Her message, however, was one that deserves to be considered and heeded by Democrats and progressives more generally.

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